Building a Better Bank



PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. wanted to understand how consumers feel on a deeper level about the role of financial institutions in meeting their life goals, and use this insight to reposition the brand.


We conducted ZMET® interviews with younger and older consumers with $100–$500K in investible assets. Our topic: "How people think and feel about financial institutions, including PNC."


Two Deep Metaphors™ emerged: Journey and Resource. Consumers are on a life Journey that can be perilous and unpredictable. No one knows what will happen down the road, although consumers have at least a vague end point in mind.

Money is a Resource on that Journey, although it is a bit of a loose cannon. Money can be "dangerous" and warp one's values, but money is a force for good when it is metaphorically "restrained" and "controlled." When money is controlled it grows and becomes stronger and can offer protection and open up new pathways as consumers move ahead on their Journey.

A financial institution can help control money's wild and unrestrained tendencies.


PNC Bank created a campaign called “Leading the Way,” combining both metaphors, and positioned itself as a guide and helper for this important Journey. Outcomes included:

  1. A significant increase in consideration to purchase

  2. Double-digit increases in relevance, likeability & persuasiveness of advertising over prior campaign

  3. Improved brand equity


"The process is very engaging. Our campaign is fundamentally based on the critical insight we uncovered through the ZMET® process."

Mark Hendrix
Executive VP and Director of Corporate Marketing
PNC Bank


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