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TSB may have blown their biggest brand opportunity yet

Last night as I got home from a Korean-town dinner in NYC with the Moven management team, I got a message via Facebook from Rob Findlay (Next Bank) about a recently launched Youtube video supposedly promoting the upcoming revamped TSB website - sort of a trailer for the future launch and the accompanying news story on Finextra hailing their 'responsive design' approach.

Now I really, really, really hope this is one of those early marketing attempts at A/B 'testing' possible concepts on the public in order to determine creative direction, but I suspect it is probably nothing of the sort. If you haven't watched the offending video you can view it here on youtube...

Here are my issues

Firstly if you want to promote your website, promote the website. Don't give me a trailer of a website you're going to launch sometime in the future, just launch the thing and promote it! TSB - the time you spent promoting the future website via a video in this instance would definitely have been better spent on just getting the website launched. But...

That's if the website actually engaged customers. 

In the blurb on YouTube this is what TSB says about their efforts to revamp their website:

"Since the TSB website was launched last year we've had a lot of feedback. We have listened to your comments and have been working on producing a brand new site which will be launched later this summer.
The site will have a new design, will be simpler to navigate and will work on smart phones and tablets as well as traditional web browsers. There will also be a new branch locator tool to help you to easily find your local branch of TSB."
TSB YouTube Channel 

I can only assume that the feedback on the current site is not good, otherwise they wouldn't be needing a revamp. Let's face it - with a launch in September of 2013, having to relaunch your website less than a year later only means one thing.

So having recognized that the first thing you'd probably do is look at benchmarks via best practice new digital pure plays, brand new mobile and app-based service providers, and generally any new service business who is using the web effectively to generate revenue effectively. What you would find is not just "responsive design" websites, which is TSB's first positioning statement in their new promo video, but you would find a site designed to engage. 

Let me just cite a few decent examples.

  • Simple - acquired by BBVA for $117m earlier this year, starts with the simplest of approaches, up front with a video on how your banking experience should be and then invites you to apply for an invite
  • Moven - our own site starts with a video and encourages you to download the app, because you sign-up for an account in the app. 
  • - AXA's retail play starts with a fantastic interactive image illustrating how to use their app for everyday banking
  • Square - An immediate call to action for starting with a Square merchant account, start selling today!
  • PayPal - Huge video and the core message that it's not about buyers and sellers, it's about people
  • PaywithISIS (soon to be rebranded) - big image of an Amex card in your phone and the simple call to action "Pay with your Phone"
  • AMEX Bluebird - a simple message. Loaded with features, no fees - call to action: Register


I could go on and on with Hello Bank, MBank poland, Che Banca in Italy, Frank by OCBC, ASB in New Zealand, etc, but the message is the same. The web first and foremost is about a positive call to action to generate online direct revenue or to engage the customer.

Each of these sites is generally visually stunning - the hero image is clear and huge (if not video based) and the text is minimal, funneling you to the primary revenue engagement opportunity first and foremost. If you want other stuff, you scroll down or navigate away. These sites know EXACTLY how to deliver revenue and engage customers in their brand experience.  

Thus, I would really like someone from TSB to explain why is it that fully the first 36 seconds of the 1 minute TSB website promo video is about their revamped super-branch locator tool, with the innovative ability to see what times the branches are open, and even what products and services they offer at a branch?? Seriously folks? Have we timewarped back to 2001?

Then the next 30 seconds are about comparing products/services and logging in to internet banking (which we're told hasn't changed). If this is really their new website design, then TSB has got some serious issues. 

There are two primary opportunities that TSB had with the revamp of their site that global benchmarks in site design dictate

  1. Engage me and tell me why I should bank with you, 
  2. Let me onboard/register/download/apply with minimal friction

Neither of these objectives are even close to being met with the new site design. I'm sorry TSB, but the web has not been about drive to branch for fully 5 years now. Every other retail business in the world realizes your website is really about two key metrics today today getting me to download your app, and getting me to apply or buy stuff. They are the two single most important metrics. 

On these measures the redesign is not even close, and appears from the promo video as it stands to achieve neither.  

I know this sounds like a rant, and if I am to be honest it is. However, it doesn't take a lot of research today to understand that the biggest challenge to the high street banks today is the ability to generate cross-sell and up-sell revenue through web and mobile. Perputating "drive-to-branch" strategies online and avoiding real revenue through digital only means that if and when the revenue crunch comes, you've lost all your leverage entirely and by that stage you likely won't get a second chance.

So Finextra - tell me why I'm wrong here... 


Comments: (11)

Jane Adams
Jane Adams - Currently looking for a job - Edinburgh 17 July, 2014, 10:391 like 1 like

I suspect that part of the reason for this is the target market for TSB. It's not and has never been an aspirational brand. It's firmly aimed at older and lower income people, who I would suggest are those who are most in favour of branch use and least interested in mobile and web banking. The message that the fancy new tech bit is easier to use and based on customer feedback is probably precisely what those sorts of customers want to hear, if they even feel they want to use the website at all.

Chris Errington
Chris Errington - None - London 17 July, 2014, 10:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

It is possible that some of the perhaps unusual behaviour that you quite rightly point out has its roots in the slightly odd and contrived manner in which TSB plc was conceived and then finally born.

In its whopping 332 pages, the public prospectus ( ) provides some revealing insights into the business model that perhaps start to explain the focus on web branch locators and maybe inhibitors to technology innovation.

The bank was born into an apparently bright new world where it could become a real challenger. But in TSB's case a world that also required it to hold, dare I say, 'old style' fixed distribution channel, comprising 631 branches, and a requirement to buy IT and Payments Related Services from Lloyds until the age of about 10 years old (no wonder they say online banking isn't changing).

Growth and innovation is pretty hard at the best of times but must be significantly harder when a major distribution channel is fixed (and worse, regarded by many as yesterday's channel) and technology differentiation is to a large extent based on and sub-contracted long term from a competitor.

The opportunity remains to properly engage with customers (and prospects) but the ability to do this digitally appears dependent to some greater or lesser extent on just how digital Lloyds wants to be. And you have to maintain that branch network of course... 

Matt White
Matt White - Finextra - Toronto 17 July, 2014, 11:05Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Chris puts his finger on it. TSB has all these branches that it has to keep so what choice does it have but to make a virtue of them?

The other thing that TSB has is customers, millions of them. It's not in the same boat as the upstart examples Brett cites. It's less concerned with attracting new customers than with keeping existing ones happy and it's taken a conservative approach to this, reassuring people who didn't ask to leave the old Lloyds TSB that things aren't changing.

That's why the video focuses on branches and keeping the same login process (which is terrible – they definitely should change it).

That's not to say that I think Brett is wrong – I agree that it would be better if TSB was bolder and actually tried to sell itself to new customers. to try to stand out by being different to the other big high street banks. But I can see why they've gone with safety first. 

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 17 July, 2014, 14:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I agree there is some pressure on TSB to focus on their traditional demographic and that they are lumped with 600+ branches. It also quite possible that the website is actually not as badly designed as the video leads us to believe. 

At the end of the day, however, if the key metric is indeed drive to branch my view is that this is functionality built for existing customers who actually already know where their branch is, or at best case might use this functionality once or twice, but it won't get me regularly using the website. In which case means that TSB has spent a bucket load of money ostensibly to improve CX, but undoubtedly seeking ROI, neither of which would be achieved by this design 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 17 July, 2014, 15:161 like 1 like

Right now I would just like more branches, I know where they are and they are all a pain to get to! Also I would like a website that isn't the old Lloyds TSB site painted blue.

Steve Ellis
Steve Ellis - Finextra Research - London 17 July, 2014, 19:43Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi Brett

As an agency, I'd say the 'tell' here is that the bank very much wants to announce that they have a new website. It implies that launching the site is the main objective they are focused upon. It also implies they aren't adopting a constantly iterative approach to site refinements. If they did the notion of a launch fades away.

On positive note, when clients talk about achieving levels of utility, refining shopper journeys and measuring end outcomes delivered, these are all 'tells' that the client gets it and great work might be done.

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 17 July, 2014, 19:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


So you feel the "tells" are that this is a one time iteration and they don't see the channel as inherently strategic?


Steve Ellis
Steve Ellis - Finextra Research - London 17 July, 2014, 20:531 like 1 like


For me the 'tell' is they feel the need to announce that a new web site coming, not simply soft launch it as and when.

I'm sure TSB are more than competent enough to have a roadmap and functional backlog they will be working through. And I'm sure someone in the bank will regard online as strategic. How close they are to actually delivering the site I don't know.

Its more the mindset that this announcement 'tell' betrays. If clients think their site is worth announcing to the planet with a pre-launch video, etc, they are possibly looking at it more from their own perspective, than their customer's viewpoint.

In my experience customers are fairly unforgiving in taking up a 'so what' attitude. Unless a new site materially improves something for them.

One of the clients we learned a lot from in terms of their approach is a very large online retailer. While we built mobile apps for them, as a result we also got visibility of the sheer volume of site testing and refinements they were constantly making (continuously, daily, hourly) to refine customer journeys in pursuit of fractional improvements in the end outcomes that drove revenue. Their relentless mono focus and rigour were amazing. And no-one ever knew. No announcements were ever made.

The point is, they understood that their development or UX skills weren't the story; the customer's online experience was the only story that mattered. And the thing that mattered most was how many visitors moved through the desired steps to increase performance (revenue in their case).

I've seen this mindset among retailers and tech firms, not so much among banks. Can't speak for the new wave of startups / challengers.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 22 July, 2014, 15:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I’m Lorraine Donington and I’m the Head of Digital User Experience at TSB.  I’ve read your blog with interest and am really interested in your thoughts.


If I may, I wanted to give you my view on some of what you’ve said and explain a bit about the wider picture. Hopefully it will help you and your readers understand some context and explain why we chose to create the video about the new TSB website.


Communicating with our customers is really important to us.  The reason we produced a trailer for the website is because we didn’t want customers to be concerned when they came to the new site, only to discover a different site that they weren’t expecting.  For example, customers might be concerned it’s a phishing site.  So, considering we are launching a whole new website, we feel this is a sensible part of raising awareness and responsibly informing our customers of the change.  While we could have launched a ‘beta’ version and given customers the choice, we were keen to give everyone the new site at the same time.


You’re correct that we only launched in September 2013.  We’ve had a lot of feedback from customers since then and I’ve been very honest about that (see Finextra’s main story at  That’s why we’re looking to re-launch now with an improved website that takes account of the feedback received.


While generating business online is important to any company with a multi-channel approach, it’s only right that we address feedback about the website from existing customers.  We want to give customers choice in how they bank with us (hence the new branch locator tool, which is the first to go live) and, naturally, the branch network continues to be a very important channel for them.  The new website will be aimed at giving new and existing customers the information they need to make informed choices about how they manage their money – we’re trying to strike a balance.


Launching the new site is just the first step. As you know, a website never stands still and we’re launching not just a new site but a whole new platform, which will allow us to make improvements once it goes live.


Thanks and I look forward to hearing about your (and others’) feedback once the new website is fully launched.  If you want to be kept updated about the new website, please contact my colleagues in the media team – their details can be found here or you can contact them on Twitter @TSB_News.  They can put you in touch with me too if you have any other feedback.

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 22 July, 2014, 16:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Thanks for your response. I don't have any doubt that the video you guys produced was focused on comms. In fact, my issue isn't as much with the site (as I haven't yet actually seen the end product), but with the focus on the video being very much about reinforcing old behaviors. In that sense I hope the video isn't representative of what the site delivers.

I would have been much more keen to see how this new TSB website makes my life better as a TSB customer - how it helps me everyday. Instead, it reinforced that the site is all about TSB - your branches, your products - how and what I get from TSB.

I would have really loved to know how TSB is going to help me everyday, and how the website is part of that solution. If the only way TSB can help me is through the branch, that's just not enough.

Which is why when the video also told me that "we're not doing anything to change Internet Banking" I think what I actually heard as a customer is that TSB is not actually going to help you with your money better than TSB already is, TSB is just going to try to sell you more stuff.

I know that feedback is important to the process, and I have a long history with your agency Foolproof who I have learned helped you with the site - so I'm actually pretty confident the site will be great. I think the video didn't demonstrate that potential at all, however. 

That was the nuanced view of the video

Thanks for taking the time to respond! Good luck with the launch...


A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 July, 2014, 08:211 like 1 like


Thanks for your feedback and good luck wishes. It really is much appreciated and taken on board.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts when the site launches!


Brett King

Brett King

CEO & Founder


Member since

14 Apr 2010


New York

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