When most people think of exciting, disruptive tech, the last place that comes to mind is the staid world of banking. Resistant to change since cavemen chiseled the first deposit slip, the banking industry’s reputation of glacial innovation is well earned. Of course, this was borne out of some necessity: in years past, one of the scariest words a bank customer could hear (besides “overdrawn”) was “disruption”. Banks were meant to be secure, stable, trusted, and unchanging.

Of course, that all changed during the global financial crisis. Consumer confidence in their banks crashed almost as hard as stock markets. At the same time, smartphones were slowly taking over the world and reinventing industries left and right. Over time, these factors led to the rise of the “Challenger Banks”: startups armed with the technology, ability, and desire to work directly with their customers to build the bank of the future.

The UK served as the global hotbed for these challenger banks and, in 2015, one in particular captured the hearts and minds of young brits: Monzo. Initially launched as a grassroots movement and crowdfunding campaign, in 4 short years Monzo grew to over 2 million customers in the UK, adding 200,000 each month (the fastest growing bank in the country – challenger or established) and a valuation well over £3 Billion. Even in the land of Unicorns, Monzo’s meteoric rise read like an unbelievable fairytale.

In 2019, firmly established as a household name in the UK, Monzo turned its attention to the United States. While the consumer profile looked similar to their rabid fanbase at home, this “New World” represented a return to square one for Monzo. Faced with the challenge of how to best introduce itself to American press and consumers, Monzo turned to Clarity San Francisco.

From there, Monzo’s senior leadership worked closely with Clarity to establish a press strategy and messaging fully tailored to the US market. Despite their reputation overseas, Clarity understood that stateside media would not simply roll out the red carpet for Monzo’s arrival on American shores. After all, the US banking industry has shown itself particularly adept to fending off challengers in the past, and press are not unaware of the battle ahead for Monzo.

To combat this skepticism, Clarity developed a strategy for Monzo that included in-person meetings for Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield with press across the spectrum from the Wall Street Journal, to TechCrunch, to Reuters. For each briefing, messaging was closely researched and tailored to speak to the benefits of Monzo while understanding the nuances of each publication and the difficult questions the team would likely face.

As a result, the briefings (and resulting coverage) could not have been more positive on the future prospects for Monzo in the US.

 

Here were (just some) of the results:

 

Results

Monzo’s CEO met in-person with ~15 reporters in the US ahead of launch, for hour-long, one on one chats with Bloomberg, CNBC, Business Insider, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and more.
Secured 30+ pieces of US and international coverage for Monzo’s stateside launch.
Established long-term relationships with Tier 1 press that continue to pay dividends to this day as Monzo follows a similar grassroots approach to US growth as they did in the UK.

selected press

UK digital bank Monzo takes first steps into U.S. market

Fast-growing British digital bank Monzo is launching in the United States throug...

UK app-only bank Monzo launches in the US to take on America's financial giants

British fintech start-up Monzo has selected Los Angeles as its initial U.S. base, and is looking to expand to other cities.

Monzo Takes a Step into the US Digital Banking Fray

UK digital bank Monzo takes first steps into U.S. market. It hopes to attract an engaged early-user base which will provide feedback to help tailor the company's offering

U.K. Digital-Only Bank Monzo Comes To The U.S.

Fast growing UK digital-only bank Monzo is coming to the U.S., rolling out a debit card and mobile app to the first 2,000 early adopters.

UK digital-only bank Monzo is launching in the US — but getting American customers to sign on may be a challenge

Monzo joins neobanks like Chime that are bringing digital-only, no-fee banking to the US and hoping to disrupt the consumer banking industry.

UK fintech darling Monzo will try its luck in the US

The digital bank has big ambitions, and plenty of competition.

U.K. challenger bank Monzo aims for U.S. charter in broad stateside push

Monzo has been adding roughly 200,000 users a month in the U.K., and is hoping to replicate that success as it launches in the U.S.

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Smart Valor

Company Goal: Lead the tokenized investment revolution

Clarity’s Challenge: Crown the ‘Bitcoin Queen of the Crypto Valley’

Preparing a company for an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) can be a challenge, especially when the company only has an MVP and a limited track record. For SMART VALOR Clarity needed to build credibility and brand visibility within banking, fintech and tech circles, as well as understand the hype among the crypto community ahead of its product rollout and public crowdsale.

We sensed the potential of the company’s CEO Olga Feldmeier and looked to establish her as a global voice on bitcoin, blockchain and fintech in general.

We rooted the campaign in a comprehensive content strategy built on informative advice and engaging thought leadership. With her credentials established, we then gave Olga Feldmeier the moniker the ‘Bitcoin Queen of the Crypto Valley’ and secured a host of high profile print and broadcast opportunities where she commented on everything from the price of bitcoin to the growth of female CEOs in tech companies and the ongoing economic implications of collapse of the Soviet Empire.

We also tracked breaking stories which we considered would give Olga the opportunity to add her unique and insightful perspective. We also leveraged Olga’s attendance at a series of events including Consensus 2018, Money 2020 and Blockchain Summit to generate broadcast opportunities.

The campaign paid off handsomely. Within two months Olga was seen as a major innovator and thought leader in the fintech/crypto world and was featured in major broadcasters/print titles/websites such as CNN, Business Insider and Forbes.

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Entrupy

Company Goal: Use AI to protect brands, spot knock-offs

Clarity’s Challenge: Establish a brand with “no substitutes”

AI-based product authentication technology provider Entrupy was a veritable unknown when they enlisted Clarity to officially launch the company as they closed their series A funding round. The founding team of technologists and mathematicians looked to us to build their profile from the ground up and achieve objectives including:

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  • Raise awareness of the company among global media, marketplaces and secondary resellers
  • Establish a reputation for innovation in machine learning and its application for societal issues
  • Position for expansion into new markets and product lines
  • Drive business growth worldwide

Clarity worked closely with the company to develop messages that conveyed the complex technical solution and its value proposition in a manner that can be understood by retail and mainstream audiences as well as those in technology circles. We crafted positioning that was equally relevant to a single pawn shop owner and a multinational marketplace and executed on a communications plan that incorporated media and industry relations, content development, event participation and industry recognition/awards.

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OpenFin

Company Goal: Move Fast. Break Nothing.

Clarity’s Challenge: Bring Silicon Valley to Wall Street

Often quoted in Silicon Valley circles is Facebook’s famous mantra “Move Fast and Break Things”. The unofficial motto of startups, it encapsulates not only a willingness to disrupt the status quo, but also a necessity to constantly be iterating, improving, and not worrying about the consequences until absolutely necessary. So what happens when you want to bring that same mindset to the world of Wall Street where innovation runs head-long into decades of necessary security and regulatory procedures? What happens when you have an innovative service, app, or platform that can only receive an update every 4-6 months? “Move fast and break things” won’t fly in that environment, so OpenFin set out to create a new world where  companies could “move fast and break nothing”, launching the first OS created specifically for Capital Markets.

The challenge for Clarity was two-fold: at first glance, OpenFin is both “too techie” to appeal to finance press and “too financie” (a new word we just made up) to appeal to tech press. The company needed a messaging and communications strategy that spoke to the complexity of the problem and the sophistication of their solution in terms that were accessible to each audience without sacrificing their credibility by oversimplifying in any given direction.

Clarity worked closely with the OpenFin team to establish muti-faceted messaging that could adapt to any audience and remains at the core of the company’s product marketing. We then embarked on a communications campaign that mixed OpenFin-owned events, industry speaking roles, contributed content, and product/company announcements with stellar results both in the finance and tech worlds:

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