How would you feel about seeing your rebrand unveiled for the first time live on stage at one of the industry’s biggest conferences (and with your COO sitting in the audience)?

Last week, among the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, marketing leaders from the top financial institutions showed up for the 3rd Financial Brand Forum at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. For 2 1/2 days, it was mostly standard fare as conference goers shuttled between educational breakout sessions and the trade-you-a-business-card-for-a-candy exhibitor hall.

However, the lights came up and the noise broke out when the Forum introduced one of the most unique keynote presentations ever delivered at a conference: Reality TV meets bank marketing in the live Brand Identity Makeover.

Rolling the Rebrand Dice

Liz Mach, VP of Berkshire Bank, had been talking with the Monigle team about a possible rebrand for 24 months when all of a sudden both were invited by the Forum to participate in the session. The need for a quick decision and both parties’ excitement left no time to think about the potential risks we had signed up for. Sounds like a normal project, right? But the one key difference: no one from the Berkshire Bank team will have seen any of the final materials prior to the final reveal.

Berkshire Bank, located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is positioned as “America’s Most Exciting Bank“. For four months, Monigle worked through an entire brand process resulting in a defined future direction for the new Berkshire Bank brand.

As Liz and her team (Mark T. and Mark P.) walked onto stage and settled down in front of the bright lights, the reality dawned on them that instead of seeing their brand reveal presentation in a conventional boardroom setting, they would be watching in real-time under the curious gaze of 800 other bank marketers along for the ride. What could possibly go wrong?

“Better Bold than Boring”

Berkshire Bank’s stock price is on the rise, customers are happy and the organization has been successfully expanding into new markets through strategic acquisitions. With a proud 170-year history and an incredibly tight-knit culture, this seemed to be an organization with no burning need for change. But Berkshire Bank’s leadership team was acutely aware of the disruptions occurring in banking and knew that – with new competitors and seismic shifts in consumer behavior – now was not the time to rest on their laurels. Moreover, Berkshire was in the midst of fostering a progressive, modern culture which the brand no longer reflected.

Chief Operating Officer and executive sponsor, Sean Gray, summed up the bank philosophy: “We can’t do old banking. That would be the kiss of death. Better bold than boring”.

Setting the Scene

Monigle’s initial discovery phase, backed by consumer research, exposed opportunities to unlock value. Berkshire’s brand had become overly complicated, with several competing assets and confusing messages.

The bank’s elements weren’t resonating and lacked meaning. The gold leaf symbol in the mark felt stodgy and traditional; huge “X” signage outside branches, meant to stand for “eXcitement,” caused confusion; overuse of the “America’s Most Exciting Bank” positioning diluted into an acronym – “AMEB.”


The first milestone of the makeover presentation was the reveal of the brand platform – the foundation for expressing the company’s values, purpose and experience for the next decade and beyond.

The opportunity zone was clear: build off the “AMEB” idea that was already so engrained within Berkshire Bank’s culture and translate it into an experience founded on a simple human truth: “Great Excitement Awaits.”

Berkshire is the bank that is there for you for all of the exciting times in life, good or bad. The excitements you’ve been waiting to check off your list – paying a mortgage or merging bank accounts. The excitements you didn’t see coming – a totaled car or needing a loan. Excitement manifests itself in many different ways, and the new Berkshire brand – from culture and behavior to the branch of the future – reflects that the bank is ready because great excitement awaits.

The Big Reveal

Having established a brand strategy that guides how Berkshire Bank delivers on banking differently, it was time for the big reveal. The moment everyone – from the client on stage to the audience in the room to even the Monigle team back in Denver – had been waiting for. How would this brand platform come to life? What does “Great Excitement Awaits” look like? How would it present itself as an identity?

The lights faded and the room fell silent…

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Beyond the enthusiastic response from the audience and the visual and verbal elements, it was important to see how the brand work translated into all facets of the experience and operations. From culture and behaviors to corporate social responsibility programs, from digital apps to a re-imagined branch experience, it was critical to demonstrate a 360-degree viewpoint of the business strategy and the brand.

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Time for our Poker Faces

The Berkshire Bank team – seeing everything for the first time live on stage – kept reactions and emotions in check. As the Monigle team wrapped up the presentation landing on a future American Banker magazine cover featuring Berkshire Bank’s CEO Michael Daly saying goodbye to “Old Banking,” it was time sit back and hear the teams’ true reactions.

“Definitely bold, not boring”: watch Mark Tomassi, Creative Director at Berkshire Bank give his reaction:

Away from the cameras, COO Gray said, “The strategy was perfect. It encapsulated the essence of AMEB, but articulated it in the context of how our purpose translates into something meaningful to consumers and connects with our own DNA”.

As bank marketers in the audience turned to online channels to share their thoughts, one thing became clear: Berkshire Bank’s leap represents a big step for the industry as it leaves old banking in the rear view mirror.

Continue the #oldbanking conversation with us online.

Jordyn Greenberg is a Senior Strategy Analyst who is always ready to bring the “excitement factor” to her brand work.

Drop us a line: if you’d like a copy of the full presentation or to talk to the Monigle and Berkshire Bank teams that participated in the session.

Jordyn Greenberg
May 27, 2016 By Jordyn Greenberg