Patrick Kuijsters & Rogier IJzermans on new ABN AMRO work

March 4, 2024



ABN AMRO has reevaluated its positioning and is now introducing a completely new communication construct and marketing approach. In close collaboration with their lead agency ACE, the bank introduces the payoff 'Voor ieder begin' (For every new beginning) along with the new brand promise: 'For anyone with a drive to move forward, we are here to support you.'

The launch campaign includes various storylines, each capturing the moment right before embarking on something new—whether it's a moment of silence, a deep breath, or the signal to begin ("go!"). It encapsulates the instant when actions are set in motion, whether big or small. At the heart of the commercial and the new ABN AMRO narrative is the emotion of 'drive'. Why? Because people's determination is an incredible asset to harness. It propels them to take the first step, enabling progress and forward momentum.

Prior to initiating an agency pitch, Kuijsters had already outlined the major strategic direction and brand promise. ABN AMRO aimed to re-establish its significance in the hearts of the target audience, focusing on associating with progress and solidifying the image of ABN AMRO as an expert bank. And yes, spontaneous brand awareness could also stand to be a bit higher. Kuijsters' approach was evident in the agency pitch, which was described as 'very thorough'. Six months passed before ACE was announced as the new lead agency. Now, seven months later, Rogier IJzermans, CEO of ACE, is also present in the strategy room. He was eager to help renew and rejuvenate the brand. He guides us through the rationale behind the communication strategy.

This strategy centers on individuals with a certain drive to start something. No hesitation, just action! IJzermans elaborates: "It could, for instance, be a passionate entrepreneur who identifies an opportunity for improvement." The beauty of the slogan 'Voor ieder begin' (For every new beginning) lies in its universality—it applies to every start, whether grand and sweeping or small and simple." The rationale behind the communication strategy presents a range of such starting points: embarking on a new job, launching a YouTube channel, undertaking a sustainable renovation, or planning for early retirement. Claiming the concept of 'beginning' is ingenious, as it often signifies a commercially significant moment for a bank, typically linked with a financial product. However, the proof must lie in expertise.

"Our experts are dedicated to finding the best financial solutions for you." Both Kuijsters and IJzermans stress that the term 'experts' resonates more effectively with the new ABN AMRO ethos compared to 'expertise,' which conveys a more formal, business-oriented tone. The brand attributes of 'progress' and 'expertise' are intended to position the bank as a leading authority in advancing both individuals and society. However, the aim is to accomplish this in a significantly more personalized manner than what may have been the norm in the past—a norm characterized by an overwhelming volume of standard information that may not always be relevant or meaningful to you. Often, this information is presented in a distant, inaccessible, and impersonal manner, a trend that ABN AMRO is determined to drastically improve. Later this year, ABN AMRO will unveil a comprehensive service offering to further this initiative (with Kuijsters maintaining discretion on the specifics). Nonetheless, all efforts undertaken thus far are geared toward this overarching goal.

The campaign framework, already largely in place but still requiring further development, encompasses 54 life events—moments that often mark significant new beginnings for individuals. These events include moving out, getting married, divorcing, starting a business, and more. ABN AMRO's experts aim to map out the possibilities, opportunities, and threats associated with each event, determining which financial products or expertise can be of assistance. This serves as a foundation for future campaigns that focus on life events. For Kuijsters, however, it's not just about practicalities; it's also about emotion. "If someone wants to retire early, what's on their mind?" This emotional aspect necessitates a significant cultural shift for ABN AMRO. "We are here for people who want to move forward, we are here to make personal connections." The brand should permeate throughout the organization, with our experts playing a crucial role. Over the past 4 to 5 months, we have engaged everyone internally through training sessions, exploring questions like "What does it mean for my role?" and "What can I do?" Undoubtedly, there will be challenges along the way, and we'll need to fine-tune our approach over the next few years, but the goal remains clear.