For reasons sufficiently mundane for me to have just typed them out, read them back and deleted them, I had to pay a cheque for £9.72 into my bank account last week. This necessitated a rare trip to the bank.
I strode into my local branch and was astonished to be confronted by a row of sullen people in smart clothing sat behind sheets of reinforced glass, processing transactions using rubber stamps and computer keyboards. Current TV ads for this bank indicate that it has supposedly undergone a significant remodelling in order to make it less "banky", and I don't know precisely what I was expecting when I walked through the door, but something like a sun-kissed meadow across which two young lovers are skipping, one carrying a wicker basket and a ukelele, the other carrying a bunch of pay-in slips and miniature biros or whatever the minimum administrative requirement is to be a bank. But it wasn't like that. It was like a bank.
Through the distorted prism of marketing, one particular British lender now appears to be more like an alternative therapist, all tea lights, pan pipes and a sign on the wall in friendly, lower-case letters that reads "hello you". Another gives the impression that its head office reverberates to the sound of the Benny Hill theme tune while employees spend the day gurning into carnival mirrors and belching interest rates at each other. Imagine what the marketing meetings are like. "For god's sake don't let anyone think we're a bank," says someone important. "Let's pretend not to be that. Let's be the anti-bank, the non-bank." Of course, it only takes a trip to a bank to reveal how "unexpected" your bank is. It's a bank. As my friend Ed said the other day, it's probably a pretty bloody expected bank when you go overdrawn.
But maybe this kind of marketing really works. Hey – maybe I should rebrand in the same way. "I'm not really me, honest." Reposition myself as not me in order to broaden my appeal. Strive for a certain me-lessness in order to highlight my un-me-like nature. Yep. From now on I'll be represented across all media channels by a cushion, the voice of Mariella Frostrup and the gentle ping of a glockenspiel.
I'll still be a dickhead, of course, but hey. Image is everything.