Widening the flock of prepaid credit cards, American Express has teamed up with Walmart to launch Bluebird. The card boasts a number of convenient ways to add funds, most notably at freestanding kiosks found in nearly all Walmart stores, and without many of the fees that competitors charge. The pitch: this is a simple, convenient, and freeing way to make purchases. And the name, Bluebird, says so beautifully.
CONSUMER IMPACT: 5/5 (Category Leader)
Bluebird excels at capturing beneficial financial features into a name that’s as far from “financial” as it gets: transcending bankspeak, and emphasizing the benefits in purely emotional ways.
Financial brands continue to wake up to the opportunity that naming represents. After innovating convenient, time-saving, life-simplifying features, they’re getting better at once-squandered opportunities to select language and imagery that actually captures the lifestyle benefits that their features enable. We’ve written at length about the commonly missed opportunity for banks to do so, both on our Financial Naming page, and in a recent ABA Bank Marketing Magazine article about the benefits of putting a friendly face on friendly financial products. Brands like SmartyPig and Popmoney are appearing more and more: embodying the carefree sentiment that goes along with simplifying features. Framing banking products around customers’ lives, rather than forcing customers to acclimate to a cold and foreign financial vocabulary.
Bluebird is a hopeful name, evoking flight, worry-free shopping, sing-song ease of use. At face value, it has nothing to do with money. Liquid, the name of Chase’s competitive entry, has similarly convenient, fluid meaning. But it’s still rooted in familiar financial terminology. Yes, somewhere in our unconscious, we want to know that our assets are “liquid” when shopping for holiday presents, but Bluebird is more enticing – and more freeing – in saying the same thing without grounding us in the mire of financial considerations.
COMPETITIVE DISTINCTION: 5/5 (Category Leader)
As mentioned, Bluebird pushes the financial naming convention into new territory. It is not so descriptive as Liquid, or Visa’s Buxx or UPside (let alone Mastercard “Prepaid”) – all of which have at least subtle tiebacks to financial concepts or themes. Even when most financial institutions try their hardest to escape the ubiquitously dry, descriptive industry vocabulary, they seem unable to avoid some degree of attachment to the well-worn concepts that get affixed to our money, and the ideas we’ve all come to expect from bank marketing.
Bluebird’s strength is in its purely suggestive nature. There is no need to say “easy money” literally within the name, as the metaphor and visual mnemonic of a flitting bird is enough to tell the story. It is competitively distinctive both in the originality of the bird theme – and in the very convention of a suggestive name.
BRAND EXPRESSION: 4/5 (Creates Advantage)
Another brilliant feature of Bluebird’s most brilliant feature is the way it harkens back to American Express, resonating the “blue” equity that they’ve built through years of support for their successful personal card brand.
Blue has become synonymous with American Express: their Blue, Blue Sky and Blue Cash rewards cards, even their JetBlue relationship, have cemented ownership of the color.
Some might fear that Bluebird as a standalone name would be too vague to drive understanding that this is a prepaid card, lacking those descriptive cues that other names like Buxx and Liquid (let alone Walmart’s “Moneycard”) offer. Many financial institutions would shy away from such a suggestive name on the grounds that it “requires too much explanation.” While we explain here why this is a common misconception, Bluebird does benefit greatly from the immediate recognition of the American Express brand that sits beneath it on the card. The quick recognition that Amex=credit card enables them to build upon a strong foundation with evocative imagery. “Blue” further drives the tie-in, helping an already great name deliver even greater clarity.
Not to mention, Walmart, another blue brand, only strengthens the color coordination.
In short, Bluebird delivers on the growing trend of financial institutions realizing that their brands needn’t be articulated with well-worn bankspeak. In the same way that customers respond to features that make their life easier, they embrace names that tell a similarly happy story.