Strengthening through expansion
When KeyBank acquired First Niagara Bank, it became the 13th largest U.S. commercial bank. As a result of the acquisition, the Cleveland-based financial institution added $39 billion in assets, taking it to $135 billion. The acquisition also increased its retail presence by more than 30 percent, from approximately 900 branches to over 1,200. Today, KeyBank is in 16 states from coast to coast.
Having worked together following the acquisition of 37 HSBC retail branches in 2012, KeyBank again enlisted the Monigle team to lead the entire sign design and conversion program for First Niagara.
Screenshot of SignChart - Monigle's conversion project management tool used by KeyBank
Maximizing brand presence and impact
In any conversion project, each individual retail location has its own environmental branding challenges and opportunities for creative custom applications. The conversion began as a “like for like” program – meaning if a First Niagara location had, say, an 18-foot pylon sign, a new 18-foot pylon sign would be put in its place. The team soon realized that the project represented a unique opportunity to increase KeyBank’s brand presence by maximizing each site’s sign square footage for the biggest impact.
Optimizing each branch’s appearance is a recognition that branch locations work the same way a billboard might, attracting thousands of eyeballs. In brand terms, it equates to treating signage and other environmental assets as owned media with the potential to build awareness and perception. Thus, midway through the project we changed strategy and increased signage sizing to maximize current code allowances. The pivot tested the team’s agility as the workload shifted to researching and reviewing municipal codes again, modifying original sign recommendations, and getting new approvals from landlords.
In brand terms, it equates to treating signage and other environmental assets as owned media with the potential to build awareness and perception.
Working in sync on a deadline
This change in strategy was all the more remarkable given that from the onset, the project was particularly ambitious for the scale of transformation necessary in a compressed timeline. A project of this size usually takes 18 months to complete; this was done in a mere 11. To ensure we hit the project deadline, we drew upon our deep vendor relationships, contracted with three top manufacturers, and divided up the conversion sites between them.
When speed is the order of the day, efficiency is paramount – which means getting things right from the get-go. Before signs were put into production, Monigle conducted extensive prototyping to make certain each manufacturer would be building the same lot of signs to exact specifications. Once the manufacturers started work, we conducted weekly concurrent status calls with all three vendors, to ensure everyone was on the same page. During these calls, the team would walk through items – landlord approvals, permit acquisition, etc. – on SignChart®, a proprietary interactive project management software. Not only did this help in keeping schedules, budgets and decisions on track, it also informed the data for the custom reports Monigle delivered daily to KeyBank senior leadership, which ensured complete transparency throughout the chain of command.
A look behind the scenes at one of the many prototype models created for the KeyBank project
Minimizing risk through smart strategy
With a fast-approaching conversion period, we had to put signs into production before obtaining all of the necessary permits and landlord approvals. This represented a major risk for excess inventory. While inventory isn’t unusual, when a project requires sign production before permissions are in place, the possibility of filling a warehouse in Buffalo with a vast quantity of expensive custom signs manufactured to the precise specifications of select branches became an all too real possibility.
Minimizing inventory risk became a key priority. We did this by tiering production according to quantity and permits – producing high-quantity signs for largely permitted locations first. This helped to ensure that any excess signs were standard, rather than custom, and could be used across locations. The result of this strategy turned a potential minefield for blowing through the project budget into a relative non-issue – in the end there was a minimum of surplus signs, all of which were standard and could be used in other locations. We created an inventory process to store and document the additional signs, so that each time KeyBank does a branch renovation or builds a new site, it can pull a new sign into use and account for it accordingly.
Based on project timing, allowable approval period and installation window, this was one of our most aggressive conversions to date.
Power in numbers
In a typical conversion program, manufacturers convert around 12-14 sites per week. KeyBank’s 10-week conversion period of 404 sites meant that this rate accelerated threefold, to over 40 sites per week. Based on project timing, allowable approval period and installation window, this was one of our most aggressive conversions to date.
The ability to tackle such challenges speaks to the depth and expertise of the environmental branding team assigned to the task. Enlisting the right partners to strategically execute and scale its environmental branding has been a critical component to KeyBank’s growth and ascendancy to a national banking presence.
From prototype to finished product...a look at one of the converted KeyBank branches
From signage family and new ATM designs, to full program conversions, contact us to learn more about how our environmental brand work with KeyBank, Bank of America, TD Bank, PNC, CapitalOne, Avis and many others can help your facilities, real estate and brand marketing teams create brand-building experiences and save costs.
|Page Title||KeyBank: Environmental Branding for Accelerated Growth | Monigle|
|Page Keywords||Environmental Branding, Branded Environments, KeyBank, Environmental Signage|
|Page Description||Having worked together following the acquisition of 37 HSBC retail branches in 2012, KeyBank again enlisted the Monigle team to lead the entire sign design and conversion program for First Niagara.|