The Nation's Newest Branch: Getting Brand and Branch Right

Banking Branch and Brand

When it comes to marketing, Umpqua (OR, $11B total assets) is a community bank that is one of the best in the industry. The Bank long ago figured out that banking should not be a transaction, but should be an experience.  More importantly, the Bank is hyper aware of not only the development of its brand and culture but how that brand manifests itself in everything it does. Along those lines, the Bank’s strategy into the San Francisco market is a template for all community banks that believe the physical branch still plays a role in banking’s future.


When entering a new market, the Bank makes sure it can instill a team that has the strong core culture of the current bank. Hiring new employees for a new area doesn’t really work, as the Bank’s way of doing things gets diluted and their culture watered down. This ultimately hurts the brand. The better approach is to send a team of strong current managers to get a branch going that can instill a good foundation of what the Bank stands for and what their clear value proposition is to potential new customers.


From a tactical point of view, Umpqua invests in a flagship store (about 3,600 sq. ft.) in a dense metro area that has suitable demographics to their targeted customer base and then seeks to surround the area with lower cost branches that average 1,100 square feet and have great signage. In this manner, the Bank can get the most marketing and service impact for the lowest cost investment.


From a service point of view, Umpqua sends many of its managers to the Ritz-Carlton customer service training school. Many of those ideas that came from the Ritz-Carlton organization are incorporated into this new branch. For example, instead of handing you a receipt, account managers will often put all your transaction documents together and pass them to you on a wooden trey complete with a piece of chocolate. If you are a customer, how do you not recognize that this bank is different and that customer service is truly important to the very fiber of the Bank?


Similar to the Ritz-Carlton, the concierge at the front of the branch will quickly take your name, look up your account/profitability information and then pass that information onto others via a Blue tooth enabled system. A customer walks in, is greeted, tells the concierge how the Bank can help and the concierge quickly passes the information onto an account manager that comes to the front and greets you by name, before taking you back to a private area.


Opening up today, the branch has an open feel that brings in the environment.  In fact, love of the environment is one of Umpqua’s brand themes which is why this branch comes complete with outdoor seating (how many banks have that?), bike racks and environmentally friendly decor.


Once inside, the branch is designed to make you feel welcomed and to immerse you in the culture. Workstations are provided if you just need a place to get free Wifi, and small meeting areas are all around where you can meet with friends or friendly bankers.




The concierge station is right when you walk in that serves to not only greet you, but direct you to an available service member.




This flagship branch has an “inspiration area” that highlights a local business. This ties the branch and the community closer together which is a further articulation of the brand chord of community support. Every quarter a new business is highlighted. Next to the inspirational area is an interactive wall that highlights a product with both print and an interactive digital display. In this particular case at the opening, the branch is highlighting the all-important treasury management.




Past the Product Wall is the “Teller Bar” that was designed after a Ritz-Carlton registration desk.




Each new branch in this style has a configurable open area where executives, customers and experts can give monthly lectures and workshops for local customers.




In addition, the branch makes their conference rooms available to customers should they want to hold meetings or have a place to work while they are in the city. The Bank found that the optimal conference room for small groups is about 130 square feet. While it doesn’t always work out that way, future branch design tries to incorporate this footprint into all future branch designs.




Again, in a blending of customers and bank, this is another example of how the branch allows for cross-selling and marketing. Within the reading/meeting area there are a set of pre-loaded iPads. These iPads not only show off Umpqua’s tablet banking application, but have subscriptions to expensive publications such as the Harvard Business Review that might entice you to stop by next time to catch up on the latest issue. A public computer gives small business owners access to proprietary databases such as LexisNexis, enticing them to come in if there close.




If you are a corporate or private banking customer, Umpqua also maintains offices a dozen floors up. As proof of concept, we are often told that both corporate and high net worth customers often stop into the branch just to get a cup of the Bank’s private coffee blend and to catch up on their reading.


If you are going to make a capital investment in real estate and open more branches, it pays to make sure your branch is working as hard as you do in customer engagement and cross-selling. Umpqua is a bank that defines best practices when it comes to marketing and branching. 


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