Coffee, Wii Bowling, Yoga and…Banking?

3 May

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


A natural sequence, right? Not exactly. It’s probably pretty likely that, unless you grew up in the Pacific Northwest or have spent extensive time there, you’ve never heard of Umpqua Bank. That’s ok, but the people in the area definitely have. They have quite an amazing little branding story. A bank? Read on…

The mid-sized bank in Oregon first opened in 1953 with one branch, six employees and $70,00. In 1995, the new President and CEO Ray Davis shifted the company’s focus to retail-oriented banking, a relatively new innovation in the financial world. So what does retail banking entail? It means that branches are “stores” which host community events, movie nights, coffeehouses and yoga. It means that customer service is the backbone of their philosophy, the basis for all the activities they conduct. “The store[s] focus on intimate, cozy banking for walk-in traffic.”1

The key to their success? Well it could be that “it’s becoming a pretty big bank by acting small.”1 They focus on making banking an experience, not just an errand. They’ve integrated into the funky Portland scene with a cool coffee house vibe and eco-friendly services.

They have also branded themselves as a community presence as the friendly, hip neighbor who knows everyone and everything that’s going on. In 2004, the first Umpqua Bank ice cream truck which delivers free ice cream was introduced to enthusiastic fans. In 2007, “Umpqua open[ed] the Innovation Lab in Portland’s Southwest waterfront…a [o]ne-of-a-kind store [that] blends state-of-the-art technology into the customer experience, experimenting with new ideas and initiatives.”1 They even launched an album showcasing the talent of local artists.

What does your bank do? Maverick CEO Davis says that “[b]ank products are a commodity. Everyone has different-colored checks and terms on a loan, but basically the same products. We weren’t going to out-resource or outgun the bigger fellows. So how do you differentiate a bank?”2 In Portland, one of the stores, which is also available for community meetings and even a concert by the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, opens its doors for a monthly Wii bowling night on the bank’s big screen TV. 

Note: Umpqua Bank has grown to nearly 200 stores and $12 billion in assets with acquisitions in California, Nevada and Washington. 

Discussion: What services/aspects do you value from your bank?

*Umpqua Bank logo from Umpqua Bank.

1 Umpqua Bank
2 NPR’s Marketplace 

More posts from this series:
Winter Classic: Save!
GAP’s Branding Blunder
Success in China: KFC
Bird-Watching: It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Hobby Anymore


2 Responses to “Coffee, Wii Bowling, Yoga and…Banking?”

  1. Gene May 4, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Now that is thinking outside the “Teller Window”!

    • delaneymarketing May 4, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      Exactly. They’ve really figured out that customer service is a vital (and the easiest) form of public relations.

Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: