SURREY, British Columbia - Coast Capital Savings' new online greeter "Julie" is generating quite a branding buzz.
Launched as part of the credit union's strategy to provide an enhanced, user-friendly online experience to members, Julie uses humor to chat up current products and services to Web site visitors.
For example, while discussing the many insurance offerings the credit union has she lines up visual aids on her desk like a plastic car for auto insurance and says the reason why the credit union offers such variety is "because you never know what can happen in life", as she takes a hammer to smash all the objects on her desk.
While not live, Julie is a real person played by an actor. The online greeter is programmed to run a movie file corresponding to questions asked by visitors. Fully interactive, while waiting to be asked questions Julie can be found knocking on the computer screen saying "hello?" or taking a moment to scratch her head with a stuffed animal. She provides online skit responses to more than 580 questions.
According to Coast Capital Savings Chief Information Officer Sheila Baker, the new site also includes improved features such as easier navigation; integration of online banking and information pages so members can access product information without being logged off; and simple jargon-free language on products and services.
The concept and design of the online greeter, which reinforces Coast Capital's aperio store branches, were a joint effort between Vancouver-based ad agency Rethink and the credit union.
"We recognize that businesses can no longer think of branding only in terms of traditional media like TV, radio and print," said Coast Capital Senior Vice President of Marketing Lawrie Ferguson. "Our goal is to define Coast Capital Savings as a helpful and innovative financial institution and we want to take advantage of the world of branding opportunities online, which is where that all important youth demographic hangs out."
Rethink Creative Director Chris Staples adds that Julie took the same level of creative thinking to produce a television commercial.
"The signs are clear that Internet branding will become increasingly important in the future," said Staples. "This is a great way for the credit union to covey its brand personality, fun spirit and commitment to simple financial help to a growing online community."
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Canada leads in per capita broadband penetration with 21 broadband subscribers for every 100 Canadians.