Severn Savings Bank

Severn Savings Bank

Reposition venerable community bank, grow assets and increase loan volume.


This county bank was the largest local bank in terms of assets, but with only a few branch locations they suffered from a lack of awareness and a reputation as an “old school” bank, great for real estate transactions, but not everyday banking.


Primary and secondary research revealed an enduring backlash against “Big Banks” even as the financial crisis began to fade into memory. The belief was that these banks were “too big to fail” and therefore had no reason to care about the everyday banker. Severn’s greatest strength was serving residents as a genuine community bank you could trust. You talk to a real person when you call, decisions are handled by people who live in the community and you have a genuine relationship with your bank. The “Toobigaphobia” concept drives home the USP in an attention-grabbing, humorous fashion. This memorable concept was reinforced with the tagline, “It’s Safe Here.”

Media selection needed to be just as creative to be effective in this smaller market sandwiched between two larger metro areas:
  • Reach and frequency were magnified with outdoor and non-traditional outlets like ads on tables in the mall food court, bus shelters, Facebook ads and “sticky note” ads on the cover of the local newspaper.
  • A strong schedule of event sponsorship and participation was added. This guerrilla tactic provided another outlet for Severn’s message through banners and promotional items.
  • Rather than standard radio spots, the team pitched a “Bank Minute” to the local station, where Severn’s president personally delivered banking tips to further round out their friendly, community commitment.
  • Bank customers were further engaged through targeted email and direct mail.
  • Facebook and Twitter were used as a soft sell for the bank, focusing mainly on promoting local events and the causes they supported.


Severn Savings Bank exceeded goals for growing their loan portfolio, consumer and business deposits. A recent survey confirmed a significant increase in brand awareness and that a majority of county residents considered Severn one of the few true remaining community banks.

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