Unlike the rest of us, brands truly have no age. The ones that endure for decades—centuries, even—merely find a way to reinvent themselves time and time again. And sometimes that “way” comes in the form of an opportune moment in popular culture, like in the case of 232 year-old company BNY Mellon. BNY Mellon saw and seized the chance to engage with an insanely popular Broadway musical whose starring character just happened to be its founder—Alexander Hamilton. As Global Head of Corporate Marketing Aniko Delaney tells it, “Hamilton” opened a stage door that allowed her company to share its story in a more engaging way than ever before.
(To listen to the podcast click here. What follows was originally published on AdAge.com in late 2016).
The Opening Scene
When Aniko Delaney became the Head of Corporate Marketing, she was well versed in the BNY Mellon brand, having been the head of marketing for six of its businesses. In addition to further building a reputation as a respected and trusted organization, says Ms. Delaney, BNY Mellon’s executives also hoped to modernize its message.
Fortunately, when Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton, became Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation, the real Mr. Hamilton had already been playing a starring role at BNY Mellon—for over two centuries. “As long as I’ve been at the company,” says Ms. Delaney, “we’ve always celebrated our founder Alexander Hamilton and his pioneering and innovative spirit.” As the show garnered acclaim, Ms. Delaney and her team understood that popular culture was celebrating a hero they knew well. They seized the opportunity, launching a year-long campaign to complement the moment.
“We affectionately call it the Hamilton campaign,” she says, “but we officially call it our ‘Invested In Our Legacy’ campaign.” Throughout, BNY Mellon’s message can evolve into something relatable and relevant, with a story well-suited for digital and social media.
Act I: The Content
Ms. Delaney and her team worked with creative agencies like Chiat/Day to bring the BNY Mellon story to life, launching on the organization’s 232nd anniversary. The company rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, deployed shareable fun facts about Hamilton’s bank on Facebook and LinkedIn, GIFs during the “Hamilton”-swept Tony Awards and a dose of humor from the voice of Alexander himself. For example, this Tweet: “Lin-Manuel gets a Tony for Best Book! Much-deserved, tho at a mere 20,000 words, I call it a pamphlet. A.Hamilton.” Says Ms. Delaney, “Hamilton was such a prolific writer, so can you imagine him trying to tweet?”
With a blessing from the C-suite, the social component of the campaign allows BNY Mellon to enter conversations where it may not have been welcome before, Ms. Delaney says, ultimately boosting brand visibility. “Gerald Hassell, our chairman and CEO, is an Influencer on LinkedIn, so he really has set the bar very high for our company,” she says. “It’s very important to reach out to our diverse constituents in channels that they use.”
The campaign also features a series of videos for web and social, as well as TV spots bookending PBS/WNET’s documentary, “Hamilton’s America,” of which BNY Mellon is a sponsor. “It really brings to life not only the story of the show, but also the story of Alexander Hamilton,” says Ms. Delaney.
Act II: The Continuing Story
As Ms. Delaney and her team move forward with the campaign, she floats the idea of using new media, even VR, to tell their story. But to remain effective, the message must still resonate. “More and more, especially with social media channels, we have to be really careful to make sure the content is educational and meaningful, but then have some fun with the creative,” she says. “Again, this is a theme we’ve been using as long as I’ve been with the company. Now, we’re just able to tell the story in a much more engaging way.”
So far, the collective effort to modernize has put up impressive numbers, with triple-digit increases in engagement and awareness on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, according to Ms. Delaney. Maybe more impressive, however, is the intangible impact on not just BNY Mellon’s public audience but also the company—the true measure of a good story. Call it the Hamilton effect.
“The content resonated, and I think it’s more than just how cool Hamilton has become, but it’s the person he was. He was truly insightful and innovative, but he also got things done. He was an implementer,” says Ms. Delaney. “Having that special connection has inspired our employees, clients, and other constituents to be really proud of the company that Hamilton founded.”
(This article first appeared on AdAge in late 2016).
Meet the Guest
Aniko Delaney studied French Literature and Art History at Middlebury College with absolutely no intention to pursue a banking career prior to joining BNY Mellon (formerly Bank of New York). She joined the company as part of its management training program, where she fell in love with marketing and decided to return to school for an MBA in finance and marketing. As a strategic, results-oriented leader and global brand-builder, Delaney held the title of Head of Marketing for six of BNY Mellon’s different businesses before being promoted to Head of Corporate Marketing three years ago.
What You'll Learn
- How to recognize moments of opportunity for reinventing your brand.
- Why it’s important to make sure your campaign message resonates across platforms.
- The key to reviving a seasoned brand and keeping it current.
- The importance of executing a campaign both internally and externally.
Quotes from Aniko DeLaney
- What we've been trying to do over the past several years is really modernize our brand to make it much more conversational.
- I think social media is incredibly important for raising our brand visibility. Gerald Hassell, our chairman and CEO, is an influencer on LinkedIn, so he really has set the bar very high for the executives at the firm.
- It’s important to have a unique and authentic story that represents your brand. More and more, especially with social media channels, we have to be really careful to make sure the content is educational and meaningful, but then have some fun with the creative.
- I have to say the biggest surprise were the engagement rates both internally as well as externally. This concept resonated and I think it's more than just how cool Hamilton has become, but it's the person he was. He was truly insightful and innovative, but he also got things done.