Nationwide - Navigating COVID-19.

Helping one of Britain’s most loved financial brands navigate the impact of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that many of Nationwide’s members were suddenly plunged into financial difficulty, and social distancing measures meant that branches had to close, leaving many struggling.

We advised Nationwide’s communications and marketing teams throughout the pandemic to help them clearly and succinctly communicate key messages to their Members, with a particular focus on aiding those in financial difficulty.

Nationwide is unlike its competitors in that it’s a building society, not a bank, and is owned by its members. Because of this, doing the right thing for wider society is a core principle for Nationwide – it's not driven by profit, rather a founding purpose to do good. During the pandemic, many of Nationwide’s 15 million members were themselves hit hard, and it was crucial that Nationwide responded and supported its members in a way that only it, as a mutual, could.

Strategy for commitment

We worked closely and swiftly alongside Nationwide to put in place a clear strategy and action plan that ensured that those hit hardest by the pandemic, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, had the support that they needed.

Nationwide needed to demonstrate that a deep commitment to help its Members and the wider community was the driving force behind business critical decisions. Changing opening hours, offering mortgage holidays and championing the cause of renters during the pandemic were all framed by this mission.

Driving #TogetherAgainstHate

Nationwide also tackled the pressures on retail workers throughout the pandemic, driving the #TogetherAgainstHate campaign to highlight abuse. This campaign culminated in a much-lauded 3-and-a-half-minute ad-break takeover which saw Nationwide partner with Channel 4, The Co-Op and Network Rail to support essential workers in the midst of rising abuse levels.

Through a daily call, we acted as trusted third-party advisors and helped shape key product changes and media strategies to ensure that those most financially vulnerable were protected and reassured effectively. This included changing branch opening hours to support the most vulnerable in society and releasing a financial support package.

We worked closely with the communications teams to ensure messaging and responses were aligned across all of Nationwide’s channels, from internal staff engagement through to external digital channels, such as Nationwide’s social media channels and in-branch radio. For us, it was crucial that all channels were sending the same messages, clearly and concisely, at the same time.

Alongside supporting Nationwide on key product changes, we also knew we needed to help the society show practical solutions and empathy through their senior team. We briefed and formed key messaging documents with C-Suite members to allow them to convey crucial messages with empathy and clarity to a broad audience, including interviews with The Evening Standard and The Times.

Scoring high in trust

Nationwide’s communications team scored the highest in an independent survey which asked consumers which bank’s communications had instilled trust most during the pandemic, as well as scoring highest on the bank or building society that looked after its employees best during COVID-19. Our communications strategy supported Nationwide through a difficult time, and laid the groundwork for the building society to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic in a position of considerable strength, poised to start rebuilding society as the world opened up.