Q&A with Andrew Zimakas, CMO, Tangerine Bank

In a country dominated by five big banks, it pays to be different. For Tangerine Bank, its upstart/innovative edge has attracted over two million customers to the brand.

Known as the bank that helps Canadians save their money, Tangerine offers consumers an alternative that it calls “Forward Banking”—one that is innovative, inspiring, and simple. Removing brick-and-mortar branches from the equation, Tangerine connects with customers through its online platform as well as mobile banking, café locations, and contact centers. The company offers a streamlined portfolio of savings and checking accounts, mutual funds, and mortgages, which further reinforces a banking experience that is easy and convenient.

1. How has the fight for talent changed over the past few years in the financial services sector? What skills do you need now that may not have been required in the past? 

A key change we have seen in the way we recruit is the need to attract talent with diverse skill sets and capabilities across the team. This ranges from in-depth analytics and modeling to content creation and curation.

What we’re really seeing now—that we haven’t seen as much in the past—is a need for “Marketing Technologists,” those individuals who not only have a deep understanding of how technology can enable our marketing objectives, but who also have the ability to harness that technology in a way that is meaningful to our customers and is practical to implement and use.

2. How has your organization attempted to position itself in the post financial crisis world (i.e., since 2008) to current and future employees?

We want our employees and prospective employees to think of Tangerine as being innovative and progressive. As a team, we bring a new and relevant way of banking to the market. And, although we operate independently, we are backed by a strong, trusted, and domestically-based brand in Scotiabank (ranked as Canada’s fastest riser on the 2014 Canadian Best Global Brands).

This positioning is reflected in the way we go to market. Leading up to—and coming out of—the financial crisis, Tangerine has been an advocate for Canadian customers. We have an unwavering commitment to creating a safe, unique and simplified customer experience.

3. If we asked a range of employees or leaders about what your company stands for and why it is different, do you think we would get more or less the same answer?

Tangerine stands for “Forward Banking.” This is what differentiates us. Life is busy and complicated and banking shouldn’t be one more thing to worry about. We think our customers’ money should work as hard as they do and we can help make that happen by simplifying how they bank. This idea is at the core of our brand and is reflected by everyone in our organization through the experiences we create for our customers.

4. Do you feel that your current external positioning and communication aligns with your organization’s internal behaviors, attitudes, and values?

Great brands are built from the inside out. Our four core values, which we call Promises (We Dare, We Share, We Care, We Deliver), are linked directly to our external positioning and communications.

We also have a performance management system that helps employees understand and internalize these values by measuring and rewarding the behaviors and attitudes that demonstrate living our Promises.

5. Do you think your recruitment messages and materials are aligned with your brand positioning? 

I believe they generally are, which reflects good collaboration between Marketing and HR. But I think we can still improve, in terms of single-mindedness in our message and consistency across communication channels (including digital/social).

Given the importance of recruiting top-tier talent and the fact that Tangerine’s reputation as a purpose-led brand has the potential to resonate with prospective employees, employer branding will remain a critical part of our overall brand focus.

6. If the majority of your organization had a good understanding of your purpose (i.e., why you are in business) and point of difference, and found this motivating, in what ways do you think that would create value for your organization? 

Having a strong, organization-wide understanding of our purpose can create value for Tangerine in three ways:

1. Employee recruitment and retention: A strong understanding of our purpose can help attract and retain employees who are truly motivated by our business and can become strong brand ambassadors.

2.  Enhanced product and service innovation: Motivation that is driven by our brand and business objectives can spur more innovative ideas for products, services, programs, experiences and partnerships that align with our purpose.

3. Balance of short- and long-term priorities: As a team, rallying around our common purpose can help create a balance between short- and long-term time horizons that enable people to deliver near-term results while realizing the long-term strategy.




Managing Director, Interbrand Canada