Banks and bondage

The-new-Metro-Bank-openin-001 Oops

The other day I used Metro Bank as an example of a challenger brand in a presentation. So partly in the name of research and partly through idle curiosity, I went to visit my local Metro Bank to find out more.
The initial experience was a bit like going to your local Italian restaurant where they try so hard to make you feel comfortable, it becomes, well, a bit uncomfortable.
On entry, I’m greeted by a teenager in a suit, who shakes my hand and asks which name I’d prefer him to use. The temptation to be facetious here is almost but not quite overwhelming. He gets me a cup of coffee and introduces me to an advisor at one of the desks situated around the edges of the large open space. The advisor is well-drilled, friendly, competent and he knows his products inside out. I’m impressed. After chatting about this and that, he introduces me to the Manager, who is friendly too. It’s all very nice.
So why am I sounding a bit sniffy about the whole thing? Surely, this customer-first friendly approach backed by competent, knowledgeable staff is just what we’ve been asking for.
Well yes and no.

First, there’s a certain night-club bouncer quality to the polite young men who aren’t quite themselves in pin-stripes.

Secondly, going back to the restaurant analogy, I remember reading recently that we secretly enjoy being intimidated by the sommelier and the arrogant Maitre D’. It’s a peculiarly British thing, apparently bound up with  self loathing and desire to be dominated. So on that basis, my instinctive suspicion of the good service I was offered at Metro Bank is because I want my relationship with my bank to be one of Dominated and Dominatrix.
That explains everything. I fully expect my next brand workshop to include exercises like ‘what kind of sex do you want with this brand?’

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