Power of Storytelling

Banking On The Power Of Brand Story Telling

What Can Chase Possibly Learn about Marketing from Global Luxury Brands?


Turns out JP Morgan Chase has plenty to learn, and directly benefit from, global luxury brand marketers!


It is a generally accepted fact that marketing is more effective when it sells end benefits vs. product / service features. And that both “rational” and “emotional” messages can work equally well in making a marketing pitch, even for business-to-business cases.


These basic marketing tenets seem to be lost by many large money-center banks – who usually tout the features of their product and services in a cut-and-dried / factual and often uninteresting way. There is a lost opportunity to connect with prospective customers by creating empathetic and even emotional success stories.


Well-told stories are far better remembered and convincing than facts. Through emotional influence, storytelling brands can create a holistic image and communicate desired product / service benefits. Luxury brands such as Burberry have used this approach, focusing on the brand’s rich history of creating high-quality trench coats with their signature plaid.


Empowering success, creating trust, and offering actionable insights that help customers seize opportunities are powerful motivators for sparking a conversation with a prospective commercial bank. This is especially important because the most unique thing most banks sell is there is nothing unique about what they sell. Their banking products and services are nearly identical and often sold on price (rates / fees) not value.


Now consider JP Morgan Chase’s Commercial Banking Unit, and its new CMO Linda Arrington. JP Morgan’s commercial banking unit provides credit and financing, treasury and payment services, international banking, and real estate services to their clients. These clients include corporations, municipalities, institutions, real estate investors and owners and not-for-profit organizations.


Arrington was named the CMO of the JP Morgan Chase Commercial banking unit, after serving as a marketing strategist at major cosmetic and clothing companies – including a stint as Global Brand Manager for Estee Lauder. Linda rejoined JP Morgan Chase in February of 2021 after a 21-year hiatus, having started her career and subsequently spending 11 years as an investment banker at JP Morgan. She brings a unique convergence of financial services expertise along with luxury brand marketing.


She was name to the Adweek 2021 list of top 100 Chief Marketing Officers back in April of 2021 – only one of three people on the list from the financial services sector. This recognition was the result of her admirable effort to revamp the marketing messages of JP Morgan Chase’s Commercial Banking Unit. As she noted at a recent Financial Communications Society (FCS) event in NYC “We are executing our value proposition through client success stories by humanizing the message, creating connective tissue with the marketplace.


Arrington’s background in investment banking coupled with extensive experience marketing luxury lifestyle brands like Estee Lauder, Benetton and Chanel gives her the ability to identify and then tell relevant and engaging customer stories. Just what the doctor ordered to help JP Morgan Chase differentiate itself in the crowded and hypercompetitive commercial banking sector. Good examples of this approach are showcased with client stories on their website featuring the following clients:


Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) – New York City. Refreshingly, the story focuses on the vision and accomplishments of HSS and its mission to restore mobility and improve quality of life for individuals with musculoskeletal conditions. JP Morgan Chase serves as HSS’ main credit and operating bank, providing treasury and merchant services to help create a more seamless and higher quality end-to-end patient experience.


The Bank leverages its healthcare sector expertise for HSS, and even stepped up at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and provided HSS with additional credit – enabling the hospital to continue to deliver best-of-class patient care under highly uncertain conditions.


Harpoon Brewery – Boston, MA. This story includes a video featuring Harpoon’s CEO & Co-Founder Dan Kenary discussing how and why he got into the beer business. JP Morgan Chase helped this middle market-sized brewer with an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) treasury services and access to capital to help the business grow.


This story celebrates Harpoon’s journey to become a successful Boston brewery and deeply rooted New England company – providing jobs, support the local economy and bringing people together around beer. As Kenary notes Harpoon stands for “Love beer, love life, make thing better.”


Chewy, Inc. – Dania Beach, FL. This story focuses on Chewy’s rapid growth based bringing a personal touch to the pet-parenting experience. In essence they offer the expertise and personalized service of a local pet store with the convenience of online shopping. This business model has been a huge success, with Chewy now serving more than 20 million happy customers across the country, with an astonishing 50% share of market for pet care products. “We do more than compete on price.” Said Mario Marte, CFO at Chewy. “Our high-bar customer service is really what makes us unique and created such strong loyalty with pet parents.”


A shared customer-obsession provided the foundation for JP Morgan’s relationship with Chewy. Since 2016, J.P. Morgan has been present for many of Chewy’s significant milestones, including serving as a co-lead on Chewy’s 2019 IPO and supporting Chewy with services as it scaled its business—ranging from receipts through J.P. Morgan’s merchant services, to card payments and raising capital through convertible securities and a credit facility. It has provided data-driven insights on Chewy’s payments strategy and worked closely with the company to accept innovative digital payment products and platforms, such as Apple Pay,so that Chewy can utilize pet parents’ preferred payment methods.


During Arrington’s remarks to the FCS she cited the opportunity to inject humanity into the often staid and dry world of B2B marketing. “We have been looking for that single moment of truth in the relationships with our clients, what we are doing to help drive their success…we focused more on story telling than sales.”


In the end this marketing approach appears to be a much more effective way to target the busy C-suite level audience for the JP Morgan’s Commercial Bank. Of course, saying nice things about other people -rather than taking about yourself – is usually a better way to attract and engage someone. A lesson that has been embraced by Linda Arrington, and seems to have been lost on a majority other Wall Street Marketers.