In-house design team at RBC helps reposition and humanize the 'big bank' brand

Case Study by Tatjana Taylor RGD, Creative Director, RBC GAM



RBC Global Asset Management (RBC GAM) is an asset management firm with global scope, industry-leading capabilities and a product suite that includes mutual funds, ETFs, portfolio solutions, alternatives and more. The client needed to build their brand awareness and answer the question “Why choose RBC GAM?” 



RBC has one of the strongest brands in Canada, but RBC GAM’s story was not being heard. We conducted a brand awareness study with the target audience (independent financial advisors in Canada) and were shocked to find that as financial planning experts, many of them weren’t even aware of all of our investment solutions. Advisors viewed and often dismissed RBC GAM as “just a big bank”, but we had a great story to tell and a strong value proposition in the asset management space.



The key goal of the Personally Invested.® campaign was to build brand awareness for RBC Global Asset Management (RBC GAM) with independent financial advisors in Canada and, above all, humanize our brand.





Because of my extensive background working on advertising campaigns for financial institutions and our team’s strong range of skills, RBC GAM’s marketing leaders decided not to engage an external agency and to develop the campaign completely in-house. 


It always helps when you have a strong team of collaborators, but it’s essential to have one go-to person on the project. Someone who knows exactly where each component is at and who understands the needs of all of the stakeholders. As Creative Director, I led the project from the initial planning and creative development to execution, working closely with our teams of writers, designers and marketing managers along the way.  



Working within established brand guidelines pushes the team to be extra creative in how we're thinking about a campaign. While RBC has set brand standards, there are nuances for the different business lines that help the brand align with what is appropriate for each specific market. While we adhered to the essential common elements like colour, typography, white space, logo placement and tone of voice, we had freedom in interpreting how it could all come together.


We chose video as the medium for this campaign to address the feedback that the brand came across as 'impersonal'. Through a series of unscripted videos, we were able to humanize the message and show the passion behind the work of the organization's leaders. Our target audience didn’t know much about the people behind our firm either, the individuals who are managing their clients’ money. We knew we had some fantastic, extremely capable and passionate portfolio managers who are always thinking about their clients’ best interests and that there was no better way to showcase their ability than to let them tell the story themselves. 


Through a media mix of digital, broadcast, print and social advertising, we were able to target our audience well and produce powerful results.



We took the time to come up with three very strong concepts before presenting, but also had our preference in mind for this direction. By doing extra rounds of vetting within our team before sharing the concepts, we had filtered out most of the elements that could have ended up being contentious. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive across the board, with only a few minor edits required. At a large bank with numerous layers of approvals and more stakeholders than we can count, you usually end up going back to the drawing board at least once, so this was a pleasant change for the team.


All the ads drove traffic to, a microsite comprised of four sections featuring videos on our key differentiators: the personal commitment to our clients, our collaborative culture, innovative spirit and global expertise. The microsite also contains an interactive timeline of the company history, a downloadable infographic showcasing our global footprint and breadth of capabilities, as well as bonus footage of the team.



We also created a brochure and presentations for our internal sales teams to use with clients. The brochure has turned out to be a big ticket item with RBC’s financial advisors as well. An advisor has let us know that the RBC GAM story was a key factor in bringing in a $3 million deal.


The campaign has resonated with our target audience due to its powerful dual message. The first is that portfolio managers and leaders at RBC GAM truly care – they take the job of managing money for investors very seriously and personally. Second, the portfolio managers firmly believe in their work and have skin in the game – they invest their own savings in the funds they manage. Advisors have responded extremely well to the fact that the videos are genuine, truly authentic and show the human side of our portfolio managers.



Our internal RBC GAM Brand & Creative and Digital teams rolled out every single piece of creative, with the exception of the featured videos, where we engaged a video production company to shoot and edit the interviews.


The timeline for the project was about a year from start to finish. We conducted the brand awareness study in December 2016 and started planning the campaign in March 2017. We started by filming interviews in our global offices in May and June and developed the creative direction by August. September through the end of 2017 was all about executing the tactics, socializing the content internally and managing stakeholder feedback and approvals. Finally, on January 1, 2018, we launched the campaign.



This campaign has performed better than all of our previous efforts, with results hitting three times the industry benchmark. Traffic to the site has increased exponentially and we have seen more completes on the videos than any of our other video content. In terms of audience feedback, we have RBC advisors have shared that our story helped them bring in new business. We have seen an increase in shares of our posts on LinkedIn and the first brochure run of 20,000 copies flew off the shelves in under three weeks. Our sales teams have said that advisors (our clients) are loving the content and that it is easier than ever for them to present our value proposition. I’m looking forward to the follow-up brand perception study, which will be the final test.


Designer Takeaways

  1. For in-house projects with multiple contributors, it is important to establish and maintain a clear structure within the team. The project leader should have a comprehensive understanding of all the different components and the needs of each key stakeholder and they should see each element through from planning to development to execution. 
  2. Doing extra work up front to think through an idea in its entirety can help a campaign run more smoothly when it is time to present it to stakeholders. By vetting ideas within the project team before sharing them more widely, you have the chance to identify and filter out potential issues and avoid any contentious elements right from the start. 


Client Takeaways

  1. Brand projects should begin with research to understand how the organization is currently being perceived by the target audience. A brand awareness study is a helpful tool for establishing a clear idea of where the company stands. If the audience's perception doesn't align with the message you're trying to send, that gives you a clear starting point for launching a strong campaign. 
  2. As a large company, RBC has clear established guidelines for the entire organization, but also benefits from nuances within that larger brand. This level of flexibility allows different business lines to employ the brand in the way that is most appropriate for their specific market. Recognizing the importance of consistency while allowing for freedom and interpretation across different channels is helpful for developing creative and effective campaigns. 


Published May 2018