How Monzo Bank Became the UK’s Most Recommended Brand

Inspiring branding lessons from fintech

Alexander Boswell
Mar 25 · 4 min read
Man holding a leather wallet containing a monzo and barclays card
Man holding a leather wallet containing a monzo and barclays card
Photo by Oliur on Unsplash

I’ll come out with this straight away: I may be a little biased in this piece because I’m pretty much a brand advocate for these guys. Not only that, but I also used to work for them as the person you would speak to in the in-app chat (though not anymore, unfortunately).

However, saying that, I’m not the only one. In 2019, YouGov, an international research and analytics group, surveyed 1,500 Brits on brands they’d recommend to friends and family. Monzo Bank came out on top by a distance, followed by TransferWise and OnePlus, beating the likes of Universal Orlando, Secret Escapes, and Shark.

Monzo was launched in 2015 by CEO Tom Blomfield and a team he had met at Starling Bank (the first fintech challenger bank, in the U.K.) with the “quickest crowdfunding campaign in history.” It was initially called Mondo and was a prepaid card only, though it gained a full banking license and changed the name (due to a legal challenge) in 2017.

They even gained unicorn status by surpassing a £1 billion valuation in 2018.

So How Did the 4-Year Old Bank Do It?

As with any brand, there’s a lot of variables that have counted towards their skyrocketing success. Not least of them is having a decent platform that works functionally with continued updates, which is a basic need. Instead, I’m going to focus a bit more on the marketing stuff.

Its Earliest Stroke of Genius: the Card Itself

Early adopters of the company would be out and about in the wild using their eye-catching cards and bystanders couldn’t help but spark a conversation about it. It has been a love-it or hate-it design, but word-of-mouth got the brand going in its early days.

Next Up: Transparency

What this does is build up trust, which is essential for us to recommend a brand to other people. Think about it — would you recommend a company you didn’t trust?

They Use a Specific Way of Communicating to Customers

Besides that, they also avoid the use of passive voice wherever possible because that makes it seem like they are pushing responsibilities into the ether. Instead, they use active voice so that it’s clear who took a particular action (like closing an account). It’s about treating customers fairly, but also adds to the trust element.

They do this across all of their communications, legal documents, blogs, social media responses, and in-app copy.

Besides all of that, it’s recognisable. You know when you read something by your favourite author, and you can tell it’s them by the style of writing? That’s the goal of Monzo’s tone of voice.

They Built a Brand Community

The Monzo Community Forum has been so successful for them because it’s not just used as a way of providing answers for general FAQ or complaint procedures. It’s made up of both customers and employees, which means real engagement on a person-to-person level, not just corporate-to-customer.

They’ve also used it to gauge changes in the app by engaging savvy developer customers, and even the change in name was suggested and voted for by the community.

It’s successful here because the customer is given genuine power over how the product works, its design, and what they want out of the brand.

While a TV ad campaign does help to raise awareness of the brand, it’s the factors that I mentioned that have helped to make it the U.K.’s most recommended brand.

And look out America, Monzo is coming to you, too!

Better Marketing

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Thanks to Niklas Göke

Alexander Boswell

Written by

MSc in Marketing specialising in Consumer Behaviour but also a self-help, serial habit experiment junkie. LGB(T)Q+.

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

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