How Monzo Bank Became the UK’s Most Recommended Brand
Inspiring branding lessons from fintech
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?
It is a little crazy to think that a bank would become the U.K’.s most recommended brand, considering our very British aversion to talking about money generally. Not only that, but it’s only four (well, now five) years old, and had a change of name halfway through that time!
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
It was a happy accident of design, but they came out with a bright neon coral colour for their cards, which was a bold move that turned out to work very much in their favour.
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
Transparency is one of Monzo’s most revered traits. They baked it into their DNA. It’s why the bank was founded in the first place: to make money work for everyone. It does this by making the legal lingo easy for the layman to understand, but they also admit when things don’t go right, even when they don’t necessarily have to.
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
They call this their tone of voice. It’s mostly informal, conversational, and includes the use of emojis wherever possible. In doing this, they aim to speak in the language that their customers are using, which also builds trust like transparency does. That’s because customers feel a sense of connection with the brand.
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
Brand communities are all the rage right now, for good reason. But it’s quite hard to get it right. However, it’s another essential factor that contributed to the success of the Monzo brand.
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.