Gravity Global wins big at the TITAN Awards

Exploding green apple

Gravity Global recently received a series of prestigious accolades at this season’s TITAN Business Awards. These awards attracted over a 1,000 entries from 56 countries. It was therefore an honour to be named Marketing Agency of the Year 2023, a long with a host of Platinum and Gold Awards – 13 categories in total, including Financial Services marketing, Banking and Best Integrated Marketing campaign. 

While Marketing Agency of the Year is a phenomenal result for us, we also celebrate the category awards as it honors not only the clients who trust in us, but also our talented teams who create and deliver the award-winning work.  

We strongly believe in sharing our work and putting it forward to be judged against our peers because it contributes to elevating creative standards, and it independently proves the effectiveness of the work we do with our clients. 

To find out about how we could help you and your brand, get in touch.

10 Baidu SEO Tips to unlock the Chinese Market

Baidu SEO on laptop

Just because a digital marketing strategy works in the West, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate to Asia. China, in particular, can be a tough nut for marketers to crack. In the domain of search engine optimisation (SEO), the biggest barrier is the Baidu search engine. 

Baidu is China’s Google. Google may have a global market share of 84%, but in China its presence is minimal. Baidu is very much the default choice for Chinese internet users, facilitating some 70% of the nation’s searches. When you apply that percentage to China’s 1.4 billion-strong population, you’re looking at a lot of potential customers. But if you want to reach them, you need to understand how Baidu works. 

Establishing yourself in Baidu’s rankings is easier said than done. I spent 10 years covering start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Korea, over which time I witnessed many attempts to break into China. Some were successful – but many more failed. 

Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss SEO strategy with many of the business leaders who did successfully make the leap into the Chinese market. And I have insights to share! In this article, I’ll give you 10 Baidu tips that will set you up for SEO success. 

Baidu Basics 

First, here are a few general guidelines to bear in mind when creating content for Baidu: 

  • All content should be in simplified Chinese characters. Whereas traditional Chinese consists of over 50,000 characters, simplified Chinese uses just over 8,000.  
  • Make sure to have fewer than 32 characters in your title, and aim for around 3,000 characters with your content. 3,000 characters is equivalent to around 1,800 English words.  
  • As with Google, the number of backlinks and referring domains are ranking factors for Baidu, as well as whether your site is mobile friendly.  

Now let’s get into 10 SEO tips to help rank better on Baidu. 

1. Get an ICP License  

An ICP license is a state-issued permit which allows a China-based website to legally operate in China.  

Getting an ICP license is not a strict requirement, and your site will still rank on Baidu without it. ICP licenses are issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and IT. However, you can only get one if you have an office registered and located within China. Without an ICP license you cannot host your website on a Chinese server, which will hurt your site’s load speed time.  

Many start-ups in South Korea that have entered China display their ICP license on the site. There are myths that say Baidu ranks sites with visible ICP licenses higher in rankings, but this has never been proven. Still, if you do get an ICP license it can only be a potential benefit to display on the footer of your site.  

2. Use HTTPS in China 

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The “Secure” part of its name refers to a security feature that encrypts the data being transferred over the internet between computers and servers. The old standard, Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), was vulnerable to hacking – which is why it’s being phased out in favour of HTTPS. 

Before 2017, Baidu only crawled sites with HTTP. Back then, it was vital for all sites to use this protocol rather than HTTPS. However, in 2017 Baidu started to crawl HTTPS URLs. Now, more than half of the ranking pages use HTTPS. Given that Baidu has officially confirmed it uses HTTPS as a ranking factor, the share of pages using HTTPS will increase in years to come. 

3. Answer questions on Baidu Zhidao and Baidu Zhihu

Facebook, YouTube, and Google are all blocked in China, along with other Western mainstays like: 

  • TikTok 
  • LinkedIn 
  • Netflix 
  • Yahoo 
  • Zoom 
  • WhatsApp 
  • Twitch 
  • Skype 
  • Instagram 
  • Snapchat 
  • Quora 

Baidu prioritises content hosted on properties they own. Accordingly, many of the search results for informational queries come from Baidu Zhidao and Baidu Zhihu.  

Baidu Zhidao
Baidu Zhidao 

Baidu Zhidao is China’s largest question and answer platform. It’s comparable to Quora and Yahoo Answers in the West. They have a wide range of content covering everyday topics for a broad audience as well as niche, business-related content. As Baidu Zhidao often ranks high for many search queries, proper consideration of this platform is a must for any company looking to promote their brand.  


Baidu Zhihu is a similarly well-regarded question and answer platform. It is known for having strict rules regarding user behaviour and spam. Many of the answers given on Zhihu tend to be longer and have deeper insights.  

Many start-ups and SMEs in South Korea stated they spent an average of 2 hours on these two platforms answering questions related to their niche. They found out quickly that it was much easier to rank for certain long tail queries through these platforms than creating content on their website and having the website rank for these queries.  

4. Get your Brand on Baidu Baike  

Baidu Baike is the Wikipedia of China. Many of the search results will feature Baidu Baike near the top of the rankings (typically in position 1), so it is crucial for brands to have a page on this platform.  

The content on Baidu Baike is heavily censored. Editors are required to register accounts with their personal information before they can create or edit articles on Baidu Baike. Additionally, Baidu Baike administrators will review and edit articles before they become public, making sure they accord with Chinese government guidelines.  

5. Exact match for keywords is not important 

Gone are the days of spamming your content with the exact match keyword repeatedly. That’s true for Google and it’s true for Baidu too. 

While it is important to have the exact match keyword in the title (preferably at the front), it is more important to make your content sound natural. Excessively mentioning the exact match keyword could even have a negative effect and drop your rankings. Instead, focus on the individual characters or pairs of two characters in the content.  

Remember, your goal should always be creating the best user experience. Baidu is a business, and they want to deliver good results to keep their users returning time and again. They’re wise to SEO professionals trying to game the system – so don’t attempt it! 

6. Be concise

When you search for ‘best car insurance’ on Baidu, a high-volume commercial query, the top result is the below post on Baidu Zhidao. The answer is short and to the point. 

Example of searching for 'best car insurance' in Baidu

What happens when you do the same on Google? 

Example of searching for 'best car insurance' in Google

The result is a very detailed long form article – over 7,800 words! 

The lesson here is that Baidu, unlike Google, isn’t fond of spotlighting long-form deep dives. Most Baidu results focus on one highly specific topic – this is probably why Q&A platforms like Baidu Zhidao and Baidu Zhihu do so well.  

So, if you’re adapting long-form guides for the Chinese market, it’s best to dissect them into smaller, more digestible pieces of content. These bite-sized snippets lend themselves well to Baidu Zhidao, Baidu Zhihu and social media channels.  

7. Lists Rank High

The Korean start-ups that found success in China tended to prioritise a certain kind of content: listicles without a numerical ranking.  

These companies noticed that Baidu search results gave priority to articles in list form – but looking deeper, they noticed that these lists were unnumbered and unordered. So, when it comes to lists, opt for the unordered version. 

8. Add fresh new content and add it to the top of an existing page

Baidu gives priority to websites that update their content frequently. More so than Google, in fact. Many Korean companies with Chinese websites noticed that their rankings started to drop after just a couple of weeks of inactivity. 

Because publishing content every day is a big ask, many startups instead opted to add fresh new content to the top of existing pages and republish them. This signalled to Baidu that the page had been updated. While such practices aren’t a substitute for publishing fresh content, they are nevertheless worth doing on days when you don’t have anything new to share. 

9. Having non-Chinese social media on websites does not affect rankings 

There is a myth that having links to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other social media accounts that are blocked in China from your website will hurt your rankings. This is not true.  

Run a simple search on Baidu and you’ll find that many of the top results include these social media links on their company site or article. What really matters is that these features do not break or slow down your page. The vast majority of Chinese users know these links won’t work for them.  

10. Use .cn only when tailored to the Chinese market

One of the top questions when it comes to creating a website for the Chinese market is whether to use a .cn domain. Our recommendation is to only use .cn if the site is being tailor-made for the Chinese market. If your domain is targeting multiple markets – perhaps using a translation plugin to serve up localised content – stick to your original domain. 

It’s worth stressing the benefits of using a .cn domain. Doing so is a great way of signalling you are all-in on the Chinese market, and that you’re actively catering to Chinese users. 

With that said, Baidu is adept at finding websites with simplified Chinese content, no matter the domain. Because Baidu doesn’t let you use the hreflang tag to specify the geographical target, it relies on the content-language HTML attribute. So, as ever, content is king.  

The Chinese market is huge and growing

In order to play catchup after the COVID-19 pandemic, China may well open itself up to more international business in 2023. Western businesses should see this as the huge opportunity it is. 

Add to that China’s massive growth in their e-commerce tech, both on the hardware and the software side, and the opportunity becomes even more tantalising. 

It won’t be plain sailing, of course. Even for Korean companies, success in China was far from guaranteed. Global brands looking to establish themselves in China need strategies for localized branding, communications, e-commerce and logistics. 

Baidu SEO is an essential piece of that puzzle. Get it right and you’ll see major rewards. 

To find out more about our SEO expertise and services, contact us.

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AI content writing: is it really the future?

Example of what ChatGPT looks like

AI content writing: is it really the future?

Picture the scene. You’re writing a blog article (much like this one) and you can’t find a way in. You write a sentence then erase it. You write another and erase that too. This continues for a while. An hour passes and you’re in the same spot you started.

If your writing process resembles mine, this is when you let out a big sigh, slam the laptop lid and sulk off in search of something sugary to eat.

Of course, writer’s block isn’t anything new. It’s been around ever since humans started carving letters into stone tablets. But what if I told you this age-old problem has a cutting-edge solution? It’s simple: let artificial intelligence (AI) write the content for you. The year is 2023 – enter ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is an AI writing app developed by OpenAI, an AI research laboratory founded in 2015 by collaborators including Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. This clever tech has been the subject of countless incredulous news stories. For example, here’s a report about how the Computer Science department at UCL has scrapped the essay component from one of its modules because it was too easy for students to game it with ChatGPT. Here’s one about how ChatGPT is generating research-paper summaries convincing enough to fool scientists. Here’s one about an Australian MP using ChatGPT to part-write a speech.

Thinkpieces about ChatGPT can veer towards the dramatic. At times the tone is faintly apocalyptic. There is an abiding question of whether ChatGPT, and tools like it – such as Google’s upcoming Bard chatbot – will ultimately spell doom for the human creative process.

Is this true, or are media commentators overstating their case to fill column inches? Are we really on the verge of an AI revolution? Let’s examine the case for and against.

What is ChatGPT?

On a surface level, ChatGPT is an app that generates text in response to “prompts” you provide it with. It’s available to the general public on the OpenAI website, allowing anyone with a computer to log in and put the tool through its paces – though you might have to wait in a queue first. Once you get in, the interface looks this:

It looks a lot like an instant messenger client, and this is a clue to how you interact with ChatGPT. You can ask it a question or tell it to do a task, much as you would a human on the other side of a text chat, and ChatGPT responds accordingly.

Another option is to feed ChatGPT a fragment of something and let it complete the rest. The something can be almost anything – the opening paragraph to a business plan, the first sentence of a social media post or even a song lyric or a stanza of poetry.

How does ChatGPT work?

In recent years we’ve seen AI make big strides across multiple domains. Not just writing, but fields as disparate as facial recognition, financial modelling and illustration. A common technology powers these advances: neural networks.

Neural networks are complicated technology, but you can understand them as a family of data-processing algorithms with a structure that mimics the human brain. They consist of a vast number of individual nodes, all of which can make connections between each other, much like the neurons in our grey matter.

Complex neural networks facilitate what is known as Deep Learning, where the model parses through enormous quantities of training data and in doing so forms an understanding of how the data relates to itself.


GPT-3, the language model behind ChatGPT, is what happens when you take a neural network and pump it full of human-generated text. The model unpicks the patterns in how language is used, forming a rules-based understanding of what linguistic constructions tend to go together. This grants it the ability to “auto-complete” according to the prompt you type in – like an advanced version of the predictive text functionality on your smartphone.

What distinguishes GPT-3 from its predecessors GPT and GPT-1 is the sheer volume of data it was trained on. Over 175 billion parameters – a measure of that input data – were fed into the model, making GPT-3 the largest neural network ever created. This dwarfs the 1.5 billion parameters that went into GPT-2, which itself dwarfs the 117 million parameters of GPT-1. (The next version in line, GPT-4, will have 100 trillion parameters.)

The leaps forward that GPT-3 has made compared to its predecessors seem inherently tied to its added scale. In other words, bigger is better. The richness of GPT-3’s training data also contributes to its ability to perform a near-infinite range of tasks without any specific training. When given a prompt, the model seems to understand what is being asked of it on a level that goes way beyond the pre-training it was given. Experts call this capability “meta-learning”, and it’s a big part of why GPT-3 has so much potential.

What can ChatGPT do?

Lots. From emails and social media posts to stories and songs, ChatGPT can do nearly anything. Here’s a far-from-exhaustive summary:

  • Professional applications: Emails, ads, copywriting, CV writing, blog writing, note taking, social media posts
  • Non-fiction: Dialogue, impersonation, essays, news articles
  • Arts and creativity: Fiction, poetry, songs, games, jokes, memes, cooking recipes, guitar tabs
  • Rationality: Logic, analogies, concept blending, counting, anagrams, forecasting, categorising.

By way of example, we gave ChatGPT the prompt “Write a social media post about the dangers of AI” and here’s what it generated:

“Attention all! As we continue to advance in the field of AI, it’s important to remember the potential dangers that come with this technology. From job displacement to biased algorithms, it’s crucial that we proceed with caution and consider the long-term consequences of our actions. Let’s work together to ensure that AI is developed ethically and responsibly for the betterment of society as a whole. #AIdangers #ethicalAI #responsibledevelopment”

This sort of result is highly impressive. With a little editing and a visual to accompany it (perhaps generated by Dall-E or Midjourney), you could easily see it slotting into an influencer’s Instagram calendar.

Do a little Googling and you’ll find many other interesting ChatGPT applications. It’s been used to write a humorous story about George Cantor ordering food, a dialogue between God and Richard Dawkins, and a Dr Seuss poem about Elon Musk. Programmer Nick Walton even used it to create an entire role-playing game, titled AI Dungeon. Delve a little further and you’ll find people have used GPT-4 to write entire books

The power of proper prompting

Arguably, the biggest factor influencing the quality of ChatGPT’s output is the prompt you feed into it. Many commentators see prompt engineering as a new kind of programming. Each prompt transforms ChatGPT into a different kind of expert – the trick is to devise a prompt that makes ChatGPT the right kind of expert for the task you want it to complete.

Which isn’t always easy. At times, it feels a little like that famous scene in A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where an alien civilisation asks a hyper-intelligent computer to answer the “Ultimate question of life, the universe and everything”. The computer takes several million years to process the question, only to give the famously underwhelming answer of “42”. It then explains that to know what that answer means, the aliens would need to fully understand the nature of the question they asked. Which sets in motion another process to discover what that question actually is.

And so it is with ChatGPT. You keep keying in prompt after prompt, trying to come up with the phrasing that will make ChatGPT truly “get it”, and give you the perfect output. It’s a process of trial and error, with ChatGPT gradually iterating its response as you make your prompt more and more specific.

But given the speed at which ChatGPT generates answers, this may well be a feature rather than a bug. It forces you to provide a proper brief. Sure, you have to be specific about what you want – but this specificity results in copy that better fulfils the purpose you originally had in mind.

What can’t ChatGPT do?

But what about the question ChatGPT prompts everyone in the creative industries to ask: Is AI going to steal our jobs?

First, a clarification: no one knows with certainty what the trajectory of AI will look like. We still haven’t fully explored the potential of ChatGPT as it exists right now, let alone the souped-up versions that surely await us in the future. Any answer I give can only speak to the present situation – and even then, only reservedly.

With that said, ChatGPT does have limitations. Below I’ll outline the roadblocks restricting ChatGPT’s practical usefulness, for now at least.

It lacks ‘common sense’

ChatGPT is good at turning a phrase, but it lacks the sensory, experiential knowledge of the world that human beings take for granted.

Kevin Lacker, a computer scientist, wrote a blog article showing some of the areas where GPT-3 commonly trips up. He discovered that the AI’s error rate increased when he gave it questions with such mundane, obvious answers that they don’t actually show up all that often on that internet. For example:

Q: Which is heavier, a mouse or an elephant?
A: An elephant is heavier than a mouse.
Q: Which is heavier, a mouse or a toaster?
A: A toaster is heavier than a mouse.
Q: Which is heavier, a toaster or a pencil?
A: A pencil is heavier than a toaster.
Q: Which is heavier, a paper clip or a can of soda?
A: A can of soda is heavier than a paper clip.
Q: Which is heavier, a football player or a car?
A: A car is heavier than a football player.

Mostly correct, but getting only 4/5 of these obvious questions correct is worse performance than a human. And when things get even more obscure, GPT-3 performs worse:

Q: How many eyes does a giraffe have?
A: A giraffe has two eyes.
Q: How many eyes does my foot have?
A: Your foot has two eyes.
Q: How many eyes does a spider have?
A: A spider has eight eyes.
Q: How many eyes does the sun have?
A: The sun has one eye.
Q: How many eyes does a blade of grass have?
A: A blade of grass has one eye.

These examples of GPT-3 failing to realise the question is nonsense should give us pause when we attribute real “intelligence” to AI models. It seems almost as if GPT-3 is trying to bluff, attempting to make up for its deficiencies with outsized confidence.

It generates a lot of nonsense

Though ChatGPT’s outputs are superficially impressive, they still contain errors. Just like the previous example, these errors tend to arise when the AI departs from convention and gets into more novel territory.

Here’s a poem ChatGPT generated for when I gave it the prompt, “Write a limerick about why AI won’t steal my job”.

There once was a worker named Joe,
Who feared that his job would go,
But AI with its brain,
Could not take on his chain,
For his job required a human to know.

While the output superficially resembles a limerick, in that the number of lines and vague syllable count lines up with other limericks, much is still wrong with it.

Firstly, the rhythm is extremely awkward. Line two doesn’t really scan relative to line one, no matter how you pronounce it. The final line is even more of a mouthful, making the poem almost impossible to read out loud.

Secondly, it simply doesn’t read like a human wrote it. No one fears that their job “would go”, and jobs don’t “require a human to know”. ChatGPT is contorting itself to meet the demands of the limerick’s rhyme scheme, but it’s not doing so in the way a human would.

Thirdly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps ChatGPT knows what it means when it refers to Joe’s “chain”, but I’m still clueless.

It’s often boring

In an article for the Atlantic, Ian Bogost deployed a common move for journalists writing about AI by getting ChatGPT to write his article’s introduction for him. But he was far less impressed with the paragraphs that followed:

“ChatGPT wrote more, but I spared you the rest because it was so boring. The AI wrote another paragraph about accountability (“If ChatGPT says or does something inappropriate, who is to blame?”), and then a concluding paragraph that restated the rest (it even began, “In conclusion, …”). In short, it wrote a basic, high-school-style five-paragraph essay.”

Having conducted similar experiments myself, these words ring true. Too often, ChatGPT generates content with a generic, depthless feel about it. Yes, it can pass for a human. But rarely does it pass for a human with anything interesting to say.

For some kinds of content, bloodless competence may be enough. Many have argued that ChatGPT is best applied to personal statements, cover letters, funding applications and other documents where a degree of genericness is necessary, or even desirable.

But if your aim is to flip existing templates on their head – to create something truly original – then you might be disappointed.

But what about the future?

In the 1980s, world chess champion Gary Kasparov famously claimed that a chess computer program would never be strong enough to defeat him. Despite victories against Deep Thought in 1989 and its successor Deep Blue in 1996, Kasparov was eventually defeated in 1997 by an upgraded version of Deep Blue. Though the victory was contested, few would deny it marked a turning point. In modern times, the strongest chess engine, Stockfish 15.1, has a skill rating of 3532 – some 600 points clear of Magnus Carlsen, the world’s best human player.

The lesson here: making predictions about AI is a dangerous game. It’s not long ago that we saw chess as a game that engaged human beings’ highest intellectual faculties. Now that computers have surpassed human skill, chess’s status has been diminished. Will the same thing happen to writing? At this point, it’s too early to tell.

One thing we do know for sure is that ChatGPT can perform many writing tasks at a near-human level. Writers are already employing it to summarise, plan and brainstorm. Rarely will ChatGPT give you a usable draft from the get-go, but it can certainly write something worth editing.

The jury’s out on whether ChatGPT possesses real intelligence or whether it’s just really good at fooling us that it does. But if you work in the creative industries and you’re already using this tool to great effect, do you really care? If it gets the job done, it gets the job done.

As I write this conclusion, I’m waiting to get to the front of ChatGPT’s queue so that I can generate an example for an earlier section. This has been a common occurrence over the few days it took me to write this article, but this is the longest wait I’ve had yet. So many people are trying to get ChatGPT to do something for them that the servers are pushed to maximum capacity. Among them, I’m sure, are copywriters, social media executives, SEO specialists and endless other professions where the generation of words is a key requirement.

In this context, the question of whether AI writing is the future seems a little silly. Because from where I’m standing, it’s looking an awful lot like the present.

With that said, Gravity Global won’t be getting rid of its human writers any time soon. For all ChatGPT’s strengths, its best application is still as a supplementary tool. The editing, error-checking and polishing that humans bring to the process is simply not replaceable. We don’t see this situation changing too dramatically in years to come. Yes, there’s a role for AI in our processes, and we’ll monitor the progress of the technology. But we’re in the business of telling human stories. And when that’s your aim, there really is no substitute for actual humans.

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3 examples of emotional marketing in the finance industry

Baidu SEO

How finance marketers use emotions to create strong connections with their audiences.

Money is often on our minds. Overdraft fees, confusing pension schemes and lack of transparency are just a few of the stressful things for customers when they’re dealing with their finances. In fact, 77% of Brits find are stressed about money, leading to high levels of anxiety or anger for many.

But for finance companies, what if having stressed and angry customers wasn’t a bad thing? What if firms could benefit from that anger, even harness it?

Take Transferwise, a company promising to save customers money when they transfer cash abroad. In 2016 the FinTech startup launched 5,600 balloons outside Westminster demanding UK banks to ‘pay back’ the £5.6bn they had charged in hidden fees the previous year. The stunt was bold and almost Brexit-bus level of angry. They even launched a website, which is still live.

Transferwise’s pointed accusation of UK banks worked a treat to attract new members. In 2017 the company grew 100% year on year, and currently has around 4 million customers transferring money around the world. Transferwise had unlocked a crucial, emotional response from their customers, which led to rapid growth.


The stunt demonstrated that emotion is the best strategy for marketing, but this had already been proven. In 2008 a study of 1400 campaigns found that emotional ads were by far the most successful when compared to more rational messaging. Brands like Nike who encourage customers to ‘just do it’ or KitKat, who reassure consumers to ‘have a break’ have been exploiting human emotions for years. But as Transferwise has shown, finance companies have also worked out how to press emotional buttons to great effect.

To understand the value of emotional marketing in the finance sector, we took a look at how some other finance brands use advertising to pull at customers’ heartstrings.

1. Comfort – PensionBee

It’s hard to get emotional about something as dry as your pension fund. But then again, who doesn’t want to live comfortably after retirement? If we think about it, pensions are a big deal, but knowing where all the contributions have gone can be tricky. PensionBee is a brand that offers to put pension finances in one easily accessible, digital platform.

A men

What they do

The biggest issue for PensionBee is consumer trust. They won’t just hand money over to anyone, but only to those they truly believe will look after it.

PensionBee expertly tackles the trust issue from the word go. On their website, the first thing the browser sees are their number of customers, Trustpilot score and FSCS certification. Scroll down and you see a testimonial from a customer called Lynn who describes PensionBee’s ‘easy online plan’, designed to give ‘total peace of mind. The clean interface speaks tranquility, transparency and ease. It’s a tidy brand, like a digital Mary Poppins of pensions who promises to take care of everything.

Head to Twitter or LinkedIn and the theme continues, with a video of an retiree serenely walking his dog on the beach, living the ‘pension dream’. PensionBee’s content is highly practical, with handy guides answering questions like ‘what is compound interest?’ and ‘should I consolidate my pensions?’ The digital brand’s yellow hues and helpful content come across as a friendly and warm, free of the jargon or complications normally associated with pensions.

Why it’s effective

The reason why a light-touch, gentle and comforting tone works is because for a lot of us, pensions are scary and complicated. PensionBee have astutely spotted that their customers need hand-holding and reassurance, something they’ve delivered in the form of friendly videos, 101 guides and plenty of testimonials from current customers saying ‘don’t worry, they take care of it’. The effect is the feeling of relief and comfort on the part of the customer. Phew, finally someone will sort out the pension mess.

2. Joy – American Express

If someone mentions joy, your mind might jump to domestic goddess Marie Kondo asking some poor creature whether their green jumper really sparks joy in their life. But jumpers aside, bank and credit card company American Express are masters of using joyful imagery to position themselves as the most aspirational finance brand around.

American express card

What they do

For American Express, it’s all about using pictures and videos to show that life’s simply better when you spend with them. Funnily enough, they don’t focus much about themselves and their services, it’s more about life itself, the daily ups and downs, and how they can make it easier for their customers.

Their most popular Youtube video, for instance, is nothing to do with credit cards but a minute-long guide on how to remove wrinkles from clothes without using an iron by TV host Kari Byron. It’s a surprisingly bright, enjoyable video which makes a point of going to bizarre lengths to avoid ironing (spoiler alert: it involves ice cubes). The tagline ‘how can we make your everyday a little easier?’ is much more friendly neighbour than financial giant, making customers feel like they’ve bumped into an old friend.

Amex’s Instagram is slightly different – this time you actually see their cards being held up to the centre of the image. But look closely, and you’ll see they’ve been very clever. By centuring the card against a background of an Italian beach, a landmark or a fancy bar, Amex have made their credit card seem like a little life companion, a bit like when travellers take photos of their favourite momentos in front of Machu Picchu. It’s a smart move, you might feel like you’re looking at a personal Instagram of someone living a fun-filled, joyful life that just so happens to feature a credit card.

Why it’s effective

It’s hard not to scroll along American Express’ social feed and not feel a warm fuzzy feeling. The vibrant, colourful compilations of images give customers a sense of ‘yes, this is what life could be like’. It works because onlookers forget that American Express are even a financial brand. American Express doesn’t mention the finer details of their credit cards such as spending limits, but focus instead on life, happiness and joy. This leaves you wanting a piece of their magic – and with 344k Instagram followers, it seems to have worked.

3. Confidence – Nutmeg

Given the growing concern over financial scandals such as the collapse of London Capital and Finance, wealth management brands today need to work extra hard to fill consumers with confidence. Digital wealth management company Nutmeg is one of those brands promising to give the best advice on how to grow your money. But why should investors trust an app with their capital?

A woman

What they do

The challenge for Nutmeg is that traditionally, wealth management advice is given in person by someone suitably experienced, reassuringly formal and on hand to answer any questions you have. Nutmeg claims to make wealth management open to everyone by turning it digital, but they have also cunningly used their investment experts in marketing campaigns to appear more credible.

You might expect a financial brand to show off their expertise through its people, but Nutmeg goes one step further. With Head of Advice Lisa Caplan, Nutmeg have hired a real-life person solely dedicated to talking to people on social media about personal finances. Lisa comes across a wise veteran of the finance world, certainly the sort of person you’d want to hear from about investing properly.

In fact, Nutmeg have filled their Facebook and Twitter thread with short, smart piece-to- camera videos from experts with impressive titles such as their CIO (Chief Investment Officer) Shaun Port and Director of Investment Strategy Brad Holland. They discuss anything from Brexit to so-called Nutmegonomics, featuring clever people in front of dual-monitor screens with graphs that only investment gurus can decypher.

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Why it’s effective

The point is that Nutmeg have proved with their people-led marketing that they are experts in what they do, with buckets of experience to back that up. Watching Shaun, Brad or Lisa for a few minutes might not turn their audience into finance experts, but it does reassure them that if anyone knows where to invest, it’s the Nutmeg team. The fact that these are real people with real experience gives customers confidence that the Nutmeg pros can be trusted with important financial decisions. And with over 50k customers, maintaining that confidence is vital.

Companies, especially financial ones are constantly urging customers to save or spend, to invest or transfer, to manage their money in increasingly smarter ways.

They are under constant pressure to convince customers to do things with their hard earned finances, and it takes the monumental efforts of countless marketing teams to make that happen. Finance on the face of it is a cold, faceless entity which simply gets us from A to B. But it’s an incredibly emotional thing, because consumers can be stubbornly protective of their money and they spend it.

That’s why emotional marketing campaigns are so important to connect with audiences, acknowledge their money worries and promise that it’ll all be alright in the end.