There is a new bank in town. A Dutch-born answer to the Too Big To Fail banks that have dominated the country’s (and international) headlines with news of exorbitant bonus policies, risky investments with customer funds, state bailouts and the invention of high fees that are popping up everywhere.
The bank aims to turn the banking world on its head with services that place financial planning and management at the fingertips of the customer – in a language they understand.
Funded by Dutch Insurance giant Aegon, this bank is a sister to the already successful and ground-breaking online personal investing bank Alex that operates under a similar philosophy.
Compelling banking model
With a bulk of my clients hailing from the Financial and Sustainable Banking sector – and as someone personally drawn to the concept and practice of sustainable, social banking – you can imagine that I was very curious to learn more.
And as a copywriter, content strategist, and localisation specialist who often works translating concepts from Dutch to English, my curiosity peaked even more.
An unfortunate name
But then I saw their name…
A deliberate choice as they aim to turn the banking world around (hence the their name being ‘Bank’ spelled backwards), putting ‘the customer before the bank’ – in Dutch as it puts the ‘K’ from ‘klant’ (customer) before the ‘b’ from ‘bank’ as Knab itself explains.
Logical, if not a little gimmicky, and makes more sense in the Dutch language. But in the international community, and particularly the English-speaking community, the brand’s intended word play gives a very different message.
It refers to something many think we’ve had enough of from the banking sector at this point. And with a €15 per month administrative fee for a personal bank account plus various digital and live support services, I wonder if their target community will truly see asking a €180 per year minimum to be as ground-breaking as the brand promises.
It certainly doesn’t help that their answer to the question ‘Why Knab?’ is that they want to empower their customers with the right financial ‘tools’.
I sincerely hope they are not looking for international press, much less that they have international growth ambitions.
Localisation and branding
Localisation is about communicating your message and brand in a language that reaches out to your focus communities and invites dialogue. This can be taken literally and traditionally as applied to translation – but it should also be considered when reaching out to a specific community who shares your main language.
Knab seems to have missed the mark on both fronts. Firstly, by assuming their big brand message on turning the bank world upside down falls flat once those fees are discovered. They are walking a thin line in the juxtaposition between their band promise and the reality of their highly fee-based service.
When companies with big ambitions create a brand and brand promise, language localisation is often not even considered. Especially in a country like the Netherlands, where most of the population speaks some degree of English and thus has a false confidence in their English abilities.
The importance of bringing a native English copywriter on board when building an internationally ambitious brand is essential, whether those ambitions are to enter the market or merely gain international attention for your model.
A native speaker with copywriting, branding, translation, digital community and content experience can bring in the best of all these worlds in order to make your brand and business ready for this vast world we live in.
So how does your company consider localisation?