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Banque de luxe

06/03/2008 - par Mark Tungate

The last time Barclays Bank rebranded itself, it tried to become friendlier and more approachable. It failed. Now I'm told Barclays wants to resposition itself as a luxury brand. This sounds even more ridiculous, although there is certainly a gap in the market for a luxury bank.

I thought about this after a gruelling phone call to HSBC, where I have my UK bank account. You can tell it is The World's Local Bank, because in the space of half an hour I spoke to people in England, Scotland and - I'm fairly certain - India. I was forced to remember a huge list of passwords and listen to Bryan Adams while on hold. Then I was cut off. This torture was about as far from a luxury experience as I can imagine.

Let's consider how the ­concept of accessible luxury might apply to a bank. First of all, there's usually a selection process. I assume a luxury bank would want high-spending, aspiring types. After that, we come to the crucial matter of service. It should be personal, and it should be impeccable. Most banks are supermarkets ; this would be a tailor. When I phone my luxury bank, I want to speak to somebody who knows my name. I should recognise their voice - and they mine. They sound keen to help. Ideally, they would be the same person I meet each time I visit my suavely decorated local branch, where I am served tea and biscuits while I discuss my vast fortune. It all sounds great. Now all we need is an ad campaign shot by Mert&Marcus, and we're on our way.

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Banque de luxe

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