Having a competitive advantage is not just about being better in ways that can be measured, it’s about understanding your difference and about knowing how that difference will impact the lives of your customers. Great business leaders know what they want to do well and also importantly what they won’t do.
While other banks were competing on interest rates and bank charges Umpqua Bank aspired to become ‘The World’s Greatest Bank’—not the world’s most profitable, or biggest, or most competitive bank, just the greatest bank to the communities they served. And they did it by making a promise with intention that translated into what they call ‘a state of mind’.
Umpqua behaves and operates less like a bank and more like a trusted neighbour (in fact the bank was originally set up by a group of ‘neighbourhood folks’ 60 years ago to help support each others’ financial needs and aspirations). People who work for a bank that says it’s about “understanding customer’s financial needs and at the same time realising that there’s more to life than money”, which becomes not just a place to bank, but a community hub where knitting groups and yoga classes are held, understand their intention. When you answer the phone with “Umpqua, the world’s greatest bank”, (they do) you know what you’re shooting for in every interaction.
The truth is that the brands we love don’t just create products and services, they find ways to have a role in our lives. That truth applies as much to a phone that people fall in love with, or a thermostat that makes them feel both comfortable and smart as it does to a bank.
Image by Rick Obst.