As it neared its 150th anniversary, Huntington National Bank was in a position to break out as the premier bank in the Midwest and one of America’s best regional banks. It had come through the global financial crisis in part by investing in the region when others left. However, the bank’s footprint stretched across 11 geographic regions, and a culture gap existed between new hires and long-tenured employees. The anniversary provided an opportunity to renew a sense of common purpose.
The bank engaged History Factory to create a strategic communications program with storytelling at its center for its 150th anniversary. By sharing stories about its legacy of service and role in the Midwest’s growth and celebrating the people who contributed to its success, Huntington Bank hoped to unify and inspire colleagues, customers and community members. The publication, an anniversary gift for stakeholders, honored the generations who built the bank and unified stakeholders with stories they could carry forward.
Using History Factory’s methodology and with Huntington Bank’s buy-in, we outlined the publication’s objectives:
- Weave together Huntington Bank’s institutional history with the histories of its acquired and merged banks
- Develop an educational tool to preserve culture and knowledge across generations
- Engage and inspire customers, colleagues and community members across the bank’s regions
- Create a lasting keepsake of the 150th anniversary to deepen the bank’s relationship with its stakeholders
Research across all of Huntington Bank’s regions yielded a common theme. Huntington Bank emerged as a true “family business” in that its founders handed down their enterprise to future generations and also helped establish countless businesses that grew to enjoy similarly multigenerational leadership. This concept of generations became a unifying theme.
We developed a content library that served as a basis for the book and other deliverables, conducting interviews with employees, leaders, nonprofit partners and customers. Huntington Bank’s story highlighted the myriad ways that it had doubled down on its investments in communities as other banks retreated. Recent history served as an antidote to the horror stories of the global financial crisis, as Huntington Bank continued to help people and communities through banking and lending.
When adapting the content library for use in the publication, we approached the project with the following considerations:
- Repurposing individual stories into a cohesive and compelling long-form book
- Balancing stories from 11 regions with the bank’s institutional history in Columbus, Ohio
- Using the growth and development of the Midwest as a compelling background for the overarching narrative
- Seamlessly integrating a recent merger
We took a chronological approach to the narrative, with sidebars about colleagues, customers, partners and communities. As the book’s production deadline approached, the bank completed the biggest acquisition in its history, adding new regions and states to its footprint. The publication covers the acquisition’s parallel history in an epilogue, reflecting the shared heritage, culture and purpose of the newly acquired regions and colleagues.
The resulting publication and its reception outperformed expectations:
- Demand exceeded the initial print run of 6,300 books
- We created an e-book version downloadable from Huntington Bank’s website
- The official launch video has been viewed more than 26,000 times on Facebook
To read Huntington Bank’s anniversary case study, click here.