The American Bankers Association recognized the nation’s best bank marketing initiatives at the 2020 ABA Unconventional Convention. The 2020 ABA Brand Slam awards honored elite bank marketing strategies that stood out among hundreds of entries from banks of all sizes nationwide. 

“Marketing is essential to nurturing a company’s reputation and enhancing its engagement with customers,” said Jim Edrington, ABA’s chief member engagement officer. “During a year filled with extraordinary challenges, these award winners have excelled at implementing creative solutions to make powerful connections with their customers and communities.” 

A volunteer panel of 124 Certified Financial Marketing Professional-credentialed experts judged the concept, strategy, creativity, execution and impact of entries in seven different categories: Crisis Communication, Integrated Marketing Campaign, Out of the Box Idea, Public Relations/Community Engagement Activity, Social Media Campaign, Video Campaign, and Website Redesign. A winner was selected for each category.

The 2020 Brand Slam award winners are:

Crisis Communications
A bank that excelled at supporting customers and the community during a challenging time by adapting, sharing valuable information and going above and beyond to connect with its people.

Park Bank, Middleton, Wis., for its video and campaign titled “Supporting our Clients through High Profits and High Water.”

With 11 to 15 inches of rain falling in less than 24 hours, roads became rushing rivers, and standing water up to several feet deep remained on main thoroughfares in the county for several days. Both the Middleton Park Bank branch and a neighboring salon and spa with whom it had a close relationship had to close down for months to repair the damage caused by this flood. On the one-year anniversary of the flooding, Park Bank released a video featuring the salon’s founder and owner as a way to celebrate the Middleton community coming back from devastating flooding, highlight a local business, and demonstrate the bank’s commitment to the success of its customers. The video was promoted and performed well on social media platforms while generating significant good will throughout the community.

Website Redesign
A website redesign that effectively employs concept, strategy, creativity and execution to achieve the bank’s desired results, whether it be to refresh the look or to enhance the efficiency of the user experience.

Bremer Bank, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., for its redesign of Bremer.com.

As the bank adopted a new brand platform to position itself as a commercial and ag bank, a redesign of Bremer.com was needed to launch the bank’s new brand identity. The site was built in an accelerated 6-month development window and has performed well, delivering a 19% increase in pageviews year-over-year, and impressive increases in usership and site sessions, including an 18% growth in average daily users. 

Integrated Marketing Campaign
A bank that as launched a product, promoted a service or set out to market a particular line of business using multichannel tactics.

Bank Iowa, a community bank serving 23 towns throughout the state of Iowa, for its campaign titled “Purpose, Vision, Values.” 

Bank Iowa took a multifaceted approach to communicating its purpose, vision and values to team members to greatly increase team member connection and engagement. It took a grassroots approach in forming a committee to define its purpose and roll it out company-wide via in-person CEO visits to all 26 branches, emails, direct mail, customized “brand boxes” and other merchandise promoting the company’s purpose, vision and values. The campaign resulted in an increase in the number of employees feeling more connected to Bank Iowa’s purpose, attendance increases at company events, and an increase in company communication open rates.

Out of the Box Idea
A bank strategy, campaign, promo item or another form of marketing genius that doesn’t fit in any other category.

MNB Bank, headquartered in Nebraska, for its “Dog Days of Summer” promotion. 

In response to the national coin circulation issue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Dog Days of Summer” promotion was created to encourage local residents to cash in their coin jars at the bank and in return support a local non-profit. 1% of the total coin volume taken in during the campaign was donated to the McCook K9 Korner Dog Park in McCook, Neb. and the Eastern Plains Animal Welfare Alliance (EPAWA) in the MNB Bank Burlington, Colo. The initiative generated more than $20,000 of coins and more than $350 toward the charities.

Public Relations/Community Engagement Activity
A bank PR/Community Engagement initiative generating positive buzz and fostering goodwill in the community.

Howard Bank, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., for its campaign titled “Keep It Local.” 

This contest was designed to celebrate the importance of small businesses in the community, and not only recognize them, but turn a spotlight on them so everyone can see the real drivers of our economy. The bank encouraged the community to nominate their favorite local business, building a buzz around the contest by posting on social media, sending out emails to its client base, writing press releases, and generating coverage in local media. A team of impartial judges as well as the community itself participated in selecting the winner. Bank employees, including the CEO, surprise the winning company with a check for $10,000, and runners up receive a $1,000 prize. 

Social Media Campaign
A social media strategy that resulted in clicks, conversions, engagement, and impressions. 

Town and Country Bank, headquartered in Springfield, Ill., for its social media campaign titled “Skater Dudes Promote Digital Platform Upgrade.” 

When the bank was upgrading its digital platform, it was essential to communicate to its thousands of users that they would need to re-establish their login credentials, download a new mobile app, and re-sign up for all emailed statements on a certain date. The bank leveraged the local celebrity status of its former president and his wife to create and promote creative skateboarding-themed videos that worked in messaging about the scheduled digital services upgrade, the action users would be required to take, the day on which it would happen, and why it would be worth the effort. The videos reached more than 22,000 people and were effective in spurring customers to take the desired action. 

Video Campaign
A campaign that uses video, whether digital or television, to effectively tell your bank’s story. 

First Dakota National Bank, headquartered in S.D., for its video campaign titled “Not Cancelled.” 

In early March, South Dakota consumers had weathered a steady stream of preemptive event cancellations and business closures as the novel coronavirus started impacting American lives. To help soften the blow, First Dakota created an uplifting TV spot encouraging consumers that there’s still plenty of good all around us, and that some things – like family, charity, kindness and compassion – can’t be canceled no matter how bleak things might seem.