Like many banks, Huntington had suffered a major blow during the Great Recession, but in the years that followed, it rebounded strongly. While many national retail banks had reduced their footprints in the Rust Belt during the recession, Huntington doubled down on its commitment to the Midwest. As the bank approached its 150th anniversary, Huntington’s leadership team was focused on strengthening a brand and culture that would attract and retain employees and customers alike.
Huntington approached its 150th anniversary with a unique story. It is one of few large banks that still bears the name of its founder—Pelatiah Webster (P.W.) Huntington—and it was family-led for more than 90 years. Huntington and his sons built a strong financial cornerstone in Columbus, Ohio, and they helped develop many of the region’s cultural and community service institutions. The bank’s winning strategy was putting it in one of its strongest positions in decades. The History Factory was engaged to make the most of the milestone.
The History Factory started work a year before the anniversary year, beginning with a planning process. We engaged senior leaders in setting a vision for the 150th, using The History Factory’s Clear Line of Sight™ methodology. With this input, we outlined a single objective for the anniversary; established a storytelling and engagement platform to drive Huntington’s mission, vision and values; and complemented these with distinct and measurable goals. We also identified target audiences—colleagues, customers and community partners—for anniversary programs and messaging.
With alignment on the strategic direction, we set out to create a unifying theme and tactical plan that would form the backbone of the campaign. The theme Welcome. Our Story for Generations served three purposes:
- It seamlessly tied into the bank’s current brand positioning of Welcome.
- It included all who work at or do business with the bank (“Our Story”).
- It paid homage to the heritage of multigenerational customers and leadership of the bank.
Next, we went into the field and gathered Huntington’s history across the bank’s 11 regions using a mix of approaches: StoryARC™ sessions with groups of longtime colleagues in Ohio and Michigan to gather stories and anecdotes from those who knew the bank well; research visits to banks and local historical societies in Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky; and more than 50 one-on-one interviews. The process enabled us to capture real, personal stories from dozens of Huntington’s colleagues, customers and community partners throughout the Midwest, painting an authentic and well-rounded portrait of the bank’s impact throughout the region.
Finally, we created tactics that brought Huntington’s story to colleagues, customers and community partners, both in person and over digital channels. These tactics included pop-up and traveling exhibits, a coffee table publication, a highly interactive microsite, a social media video campaign, and local customer events. With community engagement being a core strategy for the bank, Huntington embarked on a multi-year community service initiative with Habitat for Humanity, building or restoring 150 homes throughout its footprint with colleagues serving as volunteers.
Huntington entered its 150th anniversary armed with the road map, communications materials and tactics required to implement a successful anniversary program. More than 25,000 visitors clicked on the anniversary microsite, and nearly 7,000 copies of its anniversary publication were published. Social media results were equally impressive: Facebook achieved over 800,000 impressions; Twitter achieved over 348,000 impressions; and LinkedIn chimed in with over 434,000 impressions.
The chairman of Huntington’s 150th anniversary steering committee had this to say about the program:
By all measures, the anniversary has been an overwhelming success. Your early guidance on focus and clarity around the scope and direction of the anniversary efforts was invaluable, and the specific program recommendations were both well-conceived and well-executed. From overall strategy to branding, messaging and actual program elements, the full year of anniversary programs far exceeded any of our expectations.