Umpqua bank has charmed us before with their gorgeous web site and their coffee-serving branches that feel like living-rooms or hotel lobbies. They continue to push the envelope.
Their latest move is to offer CDs to customers that have compilations of local, lesser known musicians, as documented in the NY Times Magazine story, Branching Out. The program, called "Discover Local Music" is not an attempt to make money on the music -- just a way to entice people into the stores and build the brand. Check out their online store here.
Their corporate voice is really interesting as well. Like this little sample from the music store page:
"We might be biased, but it seems our little corner of the world turns out a staggering amount of amazing music. Having grown up on the West Coast ourselves, we thought it might be nice to share a bit of that local flavor with you. You find your new favorite band. Local culture flourishes. Everybody's happy. We hope you enjoy."
Go, Reach, Savor and Cruise - these are bank accounts?
Bank products and packages are well known for their mystifying names, usually all about the bank, or pointing to a specific feature of pricing or interest rate. [See samples of Wachovia here and BMO here] Umpqua's packages have names that speak to life-stage aspirations. They may not tell you much about the account, but they at least appeal at an emotional level. And there are other goodies too:
"Club Carefree 50 is an exclusive club geared toward people 50 or better with tons of great benefits such as travel discounts, The World's Greatest Reads Book Club, Club Carefree 50 Community Connection Corps, and much, much more. Visit your nearest Umpqua Bank to get involved or to find out more."
The current offers for this Umpqua club include a newsletter, travel discounts, charity events that members can get involved in, socials, and safe driving programs. It's easy to join -- you just open a Cruise account, available to those over 50. The name implies all the good things that we hope for in the second half of life: less hard work, more ease and fun, and of course travel.
Can a bank be a lifestyle brand?
Some people think that Umpqua doesn't have enough of a "bank" look and feel -- but what they are doing seems to be working for them in terms of business growth. They are distinct, they are pursuing their own pathway, and like Apple, they are bound to get better and better as they keep persisting.
Because after all, who really wants banking -- banking is boring, complex, sometimes scary, potentially frustrating and risky. It's only a means to an end. We want status, security, safety and comfort. And perhaps some fun.