“How strongly do you agree with the following statement: ‘I can’t imagine a world without PNC.’”
I have to admit, I was a bit stunned to hear that question pop up in a phone survey from PNC Bank. I was asked to respond on a 1 to 5 scale. I replied with a 1, indicating I did not agree with it at all.
I really do like PNC. I rated their service very highly through the rest of the survey, and I do most of my banking with them. Still, I can easily imagine world without them, and I suppose that means they haven’t truly differentiated themselves. In this alternate world, my bank statements would arrive with a different logo on them, and the branches would be decked out in a different color scheme. I would still be able to write checks, use ATM machines and pay bills online. Despite my level of satisfaction with PNC, I just wouldn’t feel their absence that intensely.
That suggests to me that, despite how successful they have been, they need to try harder to innovate and bring new value to the lives of their customers. We miss things when those things bring something special to our lives. We miss them when its obvious to us that the alternatives wouldn’t really be replacements. I can imagine a world without Apple, but I wouldn’t like it. The same goes for HBO, Disney and Hershey’s. This is what every brand should aspire to be: so special and unique that its absence would cause us heartache.
I understand why PNC wants to ask this question, and I’m proud of them for asking it. They probably won’t like the responses, but hopefully it will inspire them to reach higher and work harder to become one of the indispensable brands.