East West Bank

Giving a growing global bank a story to match its stature

From its beginning in 1963 as a regional retail bank based in Southern California, East West Bank has grown into a $23+ billion enterprise—and, says Forbes.com, one of the ten best banks in the United States. As one of the very few US banks with a direct presence in Greater China, East West Bank has become a formidable commercial banking player in both countries and a trusted advisor to companies and investors seeking to do business across the US-China bridge.

Supersede to succeed. Despite unique dual-market advantages and record year-over-year earnings, the bank’s brand still reflected its community-based retail banking beginnings instead of its current strategic focus. Starting with a work session that involved the bank’s 24 top executives, Applied Storytelling challenged East West Bank to own its success and rethink how it told its U.S.-China story. From the sales process and customer profiling to investor communications and even talent attraction, the shift in narrative had far-ranging implications.

Empowering ownership at every level. With the new story in place, Applied Storytelling worked closely with bank leaders to activate it throughout the organization. As a first step, we concepted, scripted and produced a multimedia event to introduce the new brand and strategy to the bank’s 700 top personnel. Following that effort, we introduced the new brand to senior leaders and top commercial salespeople through a series of work sessions in which we explored its implications for every facet of the business.

At the same time, the bank used its 2012 annual report to communicate the change in brand focus to investors and financial markets, translating the narrative into traditional and simplified Chinese to ensure a unified understanding across every market. The following year, we completely rewrote the bank’s updated web site to align its content around the new story.

Supported by its new positioning and brand focus, East West Bank is now able to pursue and secure the new deals on which future growth depends from a vastly more purposeful and credible-sounding place.

“Prior to engaging with us, East West Bank’s leadership had articulated a vision of being the premier financial bridge between East and West. We translated that vision into an actionable, sharply focused brand and marketing strategy.”