Why Purpose Branding Needs to Start From the Inside

CMO Spotlight: Jennifer Dominiquini, BBVA Compass

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BBVA Compass Chief Marketing and Digital Sales Officer Jennifer Dominiquini just finished a 500-mile bike trip for charity.
BBVA Compass Chief Marketing and Digital Sales Officer Jennifer Dominiquini just finished a 500-mile bike trip for charity. Credit: iStock

When most companies rebrand, it's essentially like adding a new coat of paint to a house. The structure looks better momentarily with a shiny new identity but nothing's really changed. Avoiding a superficial makeover, especially when touting a purpose, requires rebuilding an organization and the corresponding customer experience from the inside out. This is exactly what is happening at BBVA Compass, a bank whose stated purpose is "to bring the age of opportunity to everyone."

Jennifer Dominiquini
Jennifer Dominiquini

Leading that charge is Chief Marketing and Digital Sales Officer Jennifer Dominiquini. Jennifer and the other employees at the bank don't just talk about "Banking on a Brighter Future," they are living brightly, performing both random and deliberate "acts of brightness" on a regular basis. Jennifer, for example, just completed a 500-mile bike trip for a charity that was also a BBVA customer. It's that kind of commitment that makes a purpose statement have genuine purpose. In the following Q&A, she talks about how purpose branding needs to start from the inside.

What is BBVA Compass's purpose?

Ms. Dominiquini: Since its founding in 1857, this company has believed its corporate purpose should be about creating a better future for people. Recently, our chairman and our CEO realized that we needed to make it more explicit that we are a purpose-driven organization, and so last year we set out to do just that by specifically stating that our purpose is to bring the age of opportunity to everyone.

This purpose inspired your "Banking on a Brighter Future" campaign. How did this play out?

Ms. Dominiquini: We tried to infuse as much "bright" vocabulary into the work we were already doing internally. We also ensured that every element of our end-to-end client experience was bright. We highlighted bright moments of associates out in the field who went the extra mile to help a client. At our employee launch, our CEO and key leaders hosted a fireside chat-style forum to share the brand strategy and communicate the message that every associate has the responsibility to bring the brand to life. We wanted all employees to understand that this was not just a new tagline but rather a way of doing business, a way of living and breathing the brand.

Can you provide an example of how employees went out into the community?

Ms. Dominiquini: We equipped everybody with the opportunity to volunteer and do random acts of brightness in the community. Essentially, employees formed groups of five to 10 people, then went out and did acts of kindness in the community using their $25 gift cards provided by BBVA Compass. For example, we saw one person pay off a debt for a family whose son was in the hospital.

I personally had the honor of surprising a shopper in a grocery store who was about to spend her last $20 of the week. I think the tipping point in the brand roll out was when employees started to have fun. They realized this is not just a marketing strategy exercise -- this is a way of living.

Do you have a sense of what percentage of employees participated? Did you have a goal?

Ms. Dominiquini: This was one of our most successful volunteer outreaches ever. We started at 12% the first time, and now we're up to 30%. This time, the updated program -- now called "100 Days of Brightness" -- extends beyond a single day to give employees the flexibility to choose any day over the course of 100 days.

So have you changed or adjusted your hiring practices to emphasize brightness among candidates?

Ms. Dominiquini: People are definitely looking to bring in others with a like-minded, positive energy. We aim to on-board people who share our purpose-driven methodology and look for ways to empower people to act brightly across our employee base.

Tell us about your 500-mile bike ride. What a great example of how you are living the brand purpose.

Ms. Dominiquini: Well, it was the experience of a lifetime seeing our client, David Baldwin, literally ride from coast to coast. The trip really encapsulated living bright: everybody was happy, helping each other, and teaching each other. It was very powerful to know that we were doing something for a good cause, and that we were able to put ourselves literally our client's shoes. The Pursuit ride raised $12.5 million for the Center, a private, not-for-profit organization caring for adults with intellectual and development disabilities, while raising awareness for adults with disabilities nationwide. I could not be more proud of riding alongside David and team. As the chief marketing officer, it is my responsibility and honor to not only shape the brand but believe in it and live it, too.

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