We interviewed the bank that used transparency to drive business

“Trust random people on the internet with all your savings”. You can’t get more honest than that. That’s the goal of Nordnet, a bank that wants to break out of their stereotype. You might remember Nordnet as the guys who went viral last year with these hilarious ads.

We were really excited to get the opportunity to chat with Johanna Snickars, Nordnet’s Public Relations Manager. So much about Nordnet’s campaign aligned with what we love at Blender—creating original marketing content, being pioneers of innovation, and filming awesome company videos. Read below as Johanna talks to us about the Nordnet transparency campaign, about creating the first bank podcast in Sweden, and about what it was like to see Nordnet’s videos go viral.

What gave you the idea to use transparency as the focus for this marketing campaign?

A lot of people talk about [being transparent] but it’s hard to find cases of people providing it and actually living it. We’re not that big of a bank, but we compete with the other major banks. We don’t have the same finances, so we had to think ‘what’s the most cost-efficient way of reaching a broad spectrum of clients?’ Our customers want a transparent bank with all that it entitles; transparent communication, pricing, services, etc. and we want to be that too.

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Your move toward transparency was a bold one–especially in the banking world. Have there been any challenges or pushback that you’ve seen?

A big [challenge] was not choosing to brand ourselves as transparent or get our employees on board, but to actually walk the talk. This means changing how we work, what we communicate, how public we are about certain numbers. It also means find[ing] the time to create content in order to communicate transparency with customers, shareholders, the media, and the public in all these new channels: blogs, videos, social media, podcasts, etc.

Quote 1Can you speak more about the importance Nordnet places on user-generated content in order to communicate transparency? What benefits have you seen as a result of your blog/podcast/etc? 

We launched a transparent blog in all countries, where we let our co-workers explain any questions our customers might have about our business. We turned it around from [thinking] what should we tell our customers to what do they want to know about…the blog is written by around 50 customers and ‘brand ambassadors’ for Nordnet. It was important for us to not make the blog about [Nordnet], but about savings and investment advice.

We were also the first bank in Sweden to create a podcast. All our brand ambassadors and customers really push[ed] the podcast and rall[ied] for Nordnet. We wanted to have user generated content, [so we] asked on social media ‘What would you want us to talk about in the podcast?’ We haven’t really spent a dollar in marketing in this way. We’ve really gotten popular, and usually are in the Top 10 or Top 20 biggest podcasts on iTunes in Sweden. [Also] the day or day after the podcast we see a big inflow of new customers.

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What were your main goals in this transparent-banking campaign? Did you feel that you accomplished them?

Our goals were primarily brand awareness, higher customer satisfaction, and to reach all our customers and potential customers to communicate our new brand strategy of transparency…our sales in all countries have increased, but it’s hard to see if this is all due to the campaign. Brand awareness…is easier to correlate, and there we reached our goal. Three things that also came with this successful campaign were an increase in media publicity, nominations for awards within communication and branding, and a [stronger] employer branding. We [measured success] through a combination of ad views, conversions, sales, awards, PR/publicity, and visits to the Transparent Blog.

One of the really exciting things was when we looked at the amount of mentions on social media for our brand and for transparent banking. [Before the campaign] transparent banking was mentioned about 10 times a month, but when [the campaign] was going on it was happening 150 times a day, and most mentioned Nordnet in correlation. This was the best proof that our vision of transparent banking had hit home…it seems like we’ve established that, when people talk about transparent banking, it’s usually in line with our name. Even in the last couple of months that conferences and seminars started using the phrase ‘transparent banking’. It seems like [before] no one was talking about it.

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Tell us about what it was like to see your campaign videos ‘go viral’ across the world. Did your campaign strategy change at all once you saw the success?

I came into my office one day and looked at the campaign, and I saw we had half a million views overnight! We were surprised and just watched [the videos] spread organically all over the world on social media…Eventually they were even aired on American TV channel ABC News and won prestigious Adweek’s ‘Best ad of the week’. All in all we got over 2 million views on YouTube. We did have to make some adjustments we weren’t prepared for, [like the] language gap. A lot of [attention] came from the USA. We didn’t have much information in English before, and so much traffic started coming to our webpage and our blog that we [altered] things. A lot of people were Googling us, we thought ‘do we have search engine marketing in other languages?

Has the campaign affected how current and potential clients view Nordnet?

Absolutely. We’re being approached by people both as customers and potential employees because they like our transparent communication and innovative products. We received a lot more job applications, because who doesn’t want to work for a transparent bank? Many of [these applications] mentioned the blog and the podcast. If they apply for the job because they [already] like the strategy, so much work is already done; we don’t have to teach or preach to them about our principles.

Quote 4What are two lessons you learned from this campaign?

Get the customers involved, in what kind of product they want, what services do they need, and what questions do they need answered. [Nordnet’s] customers have good lessons for other savers, I think that creates the whole transparency [point]. We’re not just transparent about our bank and who works there, we’re also transparent about the customers, what troubles they have, and how we can work to satisfy them.

Sometimes you don’t need a really worked out strategy. Start by creating content and be prepared to take that wherever. If the podcast works, take it there. If you do a video and see it’s a success, put your efforts there.

You just launched two new ads with the same concept. What are your goals for phase two of this campaign? 

As the last campaign was so successful, we wanted to build on that concept that seemed to appeal to a broad audience and differentiate us. We’re cost efficient and transparent, so this time we didn’t fly over a film team but filmed [the ads] via Skype. We [plan to] publish it in all our own channels as well as [buy] ads in our four countries.


Thanks again to Johanna Snickars and the Nordnet team! See Nordnet’s two new ads below:

Who is Nordnet?

Nordnet is a Nordic online bank that started in 1996 with a vision to democratize savings and investments and make them available for people via the internet. They have local offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and a total of 450,000 customers. They’re also on a mission to be known as the world’s most transparent and honest bank.

Marika Hirsch
Marika Hirsch

As Blender’s Content Manager (aka ‘Resident Wordsmith’) Marika enjoys bringing readers the latest and greatest in both digital trends and IR tips. Follow along on Twitter: