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BACKGROUND

Founded in 1857, the Santander Group is one of the largest banks in the world with 102 million customers, 14,500 branches and 190,000 employees. After acquiring Sovereign Bank, they devised an ambitious plan to introduce the Santander brand to the United States in the Fall of 2013.

With decades of financial industry experience managing complex projects and bringing legacy brands up to speed following mergers and acquisitions, Adrenaline was perfectly positioned to support the $200 million rebranding effort.

In order to meet Santander’s assertive timeline prior to launch, Adrenaline was appointed to conduct comprehensive site surveys, evaluate local needs, document branch conversion plans, and manage the manufacturing and installation of all design elements into the majority of the branch network. 

CHALLENGE & OVERVIEW

Adrenaline was tasked with quickly and strategically retrofitting Sovereign-branded sites with Santander’s custom merchandising brand elements, all with minimal disruption to daily operations. To add to the challenge, collaboration on and management of a wide swath of documents, elements, and partners was necessary to each branch’s conversion success.

To prepare for launch, Adrenaline collaborated with New York-based design firm GilmoreGroup to solidify the floor plans, digital, and brand components required for each location. Adrenaline had to make GilmoreGroup’s design concepts come to life, staying true to design intent and coming in within budget. Together with Minneapolis-based manufacturing partner Acrylic Design Associates (ADA), Adrenaline managed the production of retail displays and store fixtures and, with an army of installers, deployed installation by way of overnight branch conversions.

To facilitate the complexities of tracking final conversion documentation, Adrenaline developed a new file sharing and asset management solution called AMP (Asset Management Portal). AMP became a project management landmark during and following Santander’s rebranding and conversion process, setting the pace for future client projects of a similar global scale. Today, AMP has become Adrenaline’s go-to portal for data and site management and is a flagship service available to all clients and industry partners.

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THE BRANCH CONVERSION PROCESS

BRANCH SURVEYS

The objective of Adrenaline’s branch surveys was to analyze the state of Sovereign’s branches and create a digital repository of floor plans, photos, site conditions, merchandising, and digital signage. These efforts enabled Adrenaline to facilitate future marketing, branding, and ultimately renovation planning on a highly specific branch level.

A robust, professionally trained team of Adrenaline-led surveyors covered Sovereign’s Northeast region in fewer than eight weeks. A Branch Health Index rating system was utilized to benchmark interior and exterior conditions, as well as the labor involved to renovate each branch to Santander’s standards. Within 24 hours of each visit, the teams uploaded all documentation and evaluation materials required for high-level analysis.

PROGRAM DESIGN

In the design phase of Sovereign’s branch conversions, Adrenaline and GilmoreGroup worked together to provide Santander with a concept that would strengthen their presentation to the US market, while working within the practical constraints of the branches. Adrenaline field technicians surveyed each branch to provide raw data on layout, electrical availability, and local regulations for signage. Using the documentation and evaluation materials gathered, Adrenaline assessed and validated design composites for each branch.

PILOT TESTING

In the pilot phase, Adrenaline translated the brand components from GilmoreGroup into engineering drawings and a series of prototype models. Each element was evaluated for form, fit, and function and eventually presented to a cross-functional team at Santander’s Boston headquarters. Upon approval, Adrenaline launched eight pilot sites that would set the stage for the hundreds to follow.

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ROLLOUT MANUFACTURING

During the rollout phase of the conversion, Adrenaline created a production strategy to manufacture, kit, transport, and physically install each item to complete the branch rebranding effort. Light fixtures, LED paneling, and minimal frame profiles were prototyped, as well as interchangeable lights and subcomponents to simplify and streamline fulfillment. Upon completion of the strategy, Adrenaline and ADA orchestrated the kitting, transportation, and warehousing of merchandise kits, tracking and supervising the effort to ensure all products were delivered on time from factory to branch staging.

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INSTALLATION

The Santander rebrand wasn’t an overnight project, but the conversation of each branch — quite literally — was. In order to avoid disrupting daily operations, Adrenaline’s installers performed conversion work overnight. Adrenaline’s installation group was cross-trained on the program in a three-day workshop and then divided into three or four-man teams. An internal leader for each group established protocol, direction, and review processes to ensure speed and accuracy in each branch’s installation. Each team completed one to two branches each night; Adrenaline facilitated the completion of as many as ninety branches per week.

INNOVATION: ADRENALINE & AMP

With a project the scope and scale of the Santander conversion, staying on time and on budget were of utmost importance. By sharing data, images, floor plans, and other branch-specific documentation, a custom portal set the pace for project success. Thus, the Asset Management Portal (AMP) was born.

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AMP provides a one-stop solution for retail, logistics, and marketing teams to access and manage all branch assets. By streamlining branch planning, merchandising, marketing campaigns, and rotational messaging, AMP allows for collaborative sharing and companywide compliance, no matter the location of a branch or its employees.

The portal is the first of its kind to offer local data, target messaging zones, and regional marketing campaigns all working in conjunction. This allows for robust management of assets that would otherwise be scattered across multiple communications channels. Saving time, money, energy, and assets, AMP generates floor plans and real-time virtual planograms to show teams exactly where, when, and how to place items. A report on overall execution and compliance of each branch can be generated, assuring branch-by-branch consistency. Production, kitting, and maintenance alerts communicate current needs to the most relevant vendors.

With this portal, Adrenaline is able to solve a recurring challenge for its global bank clients by storing, sorting, and making accessible the ever-changing documents, images, and floor plans that are vital to the success of each branch.

AMP has become a key source of information for all major stakeholders and contributors involved in design and project management for the Santander conversion, including Aquanima, CBRE, and GilmoreGroup.

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CONCLUSION

On July 24, 2013 Santander announced the name change and subsequent rebrand of Sovereign Bank.  Adrenaline played an integral role in one of the world’s biggest bank rebranding efforts, completed an astonishing three months later on October 27.

The project involved overseeing of hundreds of subcontractors, vendors, designers, and collaborators; large-scale and robust project management; and creation of an online management portal (AMP). Adrenaline’s project model established a beacon of efficient branch conversion that has been adapted to clients’ networks large and small.