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Starling Bank shifts from brand to product marketing and appeals to #MakeMoneyEqual

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

UK challenger Starling Bank launches a new product-led ad campaign and extends its #MakeMoneyEqual social appeal as it paves its way to fighting the high-street banks and becoming a household brand. To learn more about the company’s latest marketing efforts, we spoke to Rachel Kerrone, Head of Brand at Starling Bank.

Rachel Kerrone, Starling Bank, #MakeMoneyEqual, Quote

Starling Bank, one of the UK’s leading fintech brands, takes its name from the sociable, adaptable, friendly and supportive bird – the starling. These qualities are everything that the challenger bank stands for, and through this, they have rapidly grown to a customer base of over 2 million accounts. In 2018, they became the first digital-only bank to launch business accounts, with no monthly fees and an in-app marketplace, allowing business owners to connect with other smart and flexible products. Starling Bank is a brand that seriously champions diversity and gender equality, which leads us onto their most recent campaign.

Starling Bank campaigning to #MakeMoneyEqual

Originally launched in 2018, Starling’s #MakeMoneyEqual social campaign aims to remove negative gender stereotypes from the public conversation around money and personal finances. After the success of its pilot study that showed how women and men are spoken to differently about money, the challenger decided to extend the campaign. Thus, in 2020, it partnered with writer and comedian Anne T. Donahue to create a practical booklet on how the media and society can change the narrative around women and money.

Fast forward to 2021, Starling is once again opening up the conversation about gender inequality in the finance world with the latest edition of their #MakeMoneyEqual campaigning. This time, the company focussed on revealing the distinctly gendered representations of men and women dealing with money in stock images used by the UK’s leading financial institutions, with the help of their campaign partners, Brunel University London.

So, the latest #MakeMoneyEqual campaign urges for a change to the way that women are pictured with money. Admirably, Starling has gone so far as to initiate this much-needed systematic change in the way that women are viewed with money, by teaming up with Lensi Photography to create the #MakeMoneyEqual image bank – a new library of much fairer depictions of women with money which are free to download.

From brand to product: Why Starling Bank has shifted its ad focus

In addition to the social #MakeMoneyEqual campaign, Starling has also recently announced the launch of a new ad campaign that will shine a light on its product and unique value proposition. For the production of the campaign, the challenger has once again worked with the UK-based creative studio, Ekstasy, which was also responsible for their highly successful debut tv campaign in 2019, Feel Good About Money.


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Whilst all past advertising efforts of the fintech were mostly focussed on increasing brand awareness, this time, Starling is going “all-in” to showcase its unique product offering and value proposition.

Rachel Kerrone, Head of Brand at Starling Bank, explained that the shift from brand to product naturally followed the success of the bank’s previous branding efforts that helped boost its awareness to the impressive 64% in 2020.

“Our previous advertising campaigns were all about brand awareness and about telling the nation who we were and what we stood for and it worked. Awareness increased from 22% to 38% in 2019 and in 2020 our ‘Helping Britain Fly’ campaign brought our awareness to around 64%. These previous successes have meant that we can now talk about why people should join us and not just who we are, hence the shift to this particular campaign focussing on product marketing and highlighting the USPs that Starling has to offer.”

In terms of creatives, the new campaign will be all about the end of lockdown in the UK and the upcoming summer season. In unison with the happy vibes of summer, Starling’s new ads will be upbeat and playful.

“Tapping into the positivity of summer and the end of lockdown, the campaign is upbeat and playful, whilst at the same time showing that when life gets in the way, Starling is there to fit in with that and the ease of opening an account is just one way of showing what a great customer experience we offer,” said Rachel.

A glimpse into Starling Bank’s marketing plan for the rest of 2021

As we’re fast approaching Q3, we were also curious to learn what else Rachel and her team are currently working on. Here's what she shared:

“We have just announced that we are the official sponsor of Kew Gardens Secret Word of Plants - a lovely summer-long exhibition encouraging people to meet up outside, appreciate nature and learn about the behaviour of plants. We have other sponsorships up our sleeves which we will announce shortly.

We have also recently run a social media influencer campaign with Purple Goat - an agency that represents people with disabilities. Starling is a product for everyone and we want to support the disabled community.”


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What will be the biggest challenge for fintech marketers in 2021?

According to Rachel, the biggest challenge for fintech marketers this year is to stay relevant and relatable. At the end of the day, fintechs’ ultimate goal should be about making the life of their customers a bit easier and fighting the old, inefficient ways of doing finance.

“Our biggest challenge will be to ensure that everything we do is to be relevant and relatable. Everyone’s lives have changed in the past year and we want to be a brand people feel they can connect with, even if their day-to-day life has changed.

The banking market is crowded with large banks spending huge budgets on marketing. For FinTech’s it’s about showing how we are different, that we are built for consumers, and that our products genuinely make people’s lives easier. It’s answering the ‘Why?’”, said Rachel.


About Rachel Kerrone: Rachel is a Brand Director at Starling Bank, an award-winning digital bank founded in 2014. Rachel joined Starling 3.5 years ago to be part of the brand's ambition to change banking for good, having worked in marketing roles at some of the world’s largest financial services organisations. Rachel has been pivotal in building Starling’s mass awareness in the UK, through integrated campaigns spanning TV, radio, digital channels, partnerships and events.


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