The Commonwealth Bank has a vision to be Australia’s finest financial services organisation, by aiming to excel in customer service. The main proof point of success is reaching number one in independently reviewed customer satisfaction surveys.

Commonwealth Bank is an enormous organisation – in fact, it’s the second biggest employer in the country, with over 40,000 employees. Those employees are as diverse as customer needs; from regional tellers in branches to high-finance traders and asset managers in Sydney’s CBD, and everything in between.

So how does a big brand ensure its customers are satisfied? It starts by ensuring that all staff live its values and promise, especially in all dealings they have with customers.

The challenge for Imagination was to develop a program of creative communication to engage the Bank’s people. We had to focus on and improve its efforts in customer service, and to help them understand what the Commonwealth Bank promises to customers and how it can help deliver on that promise everyday.

Campaign: ‘Delivering Difference’
Client: The Commonwealth Bank
Agency: Imagination


‘Determined to be different’ is bold statement and a big promise. It’s one that can’t be delivered through improved processes, or new products alone – it’s a promise that relies on the entire organisation thinking, behaving and acting differently.

Our internal brand campaign needed to:

Cut through: Look, feel, sound and be different from everything the Bank had ever done before for employees – then make all of our work consistent, so employees can connect the messages together.
Build pride in the badge: Get the team excited about being part of the Bank. Show them what they help customers achieve, and how intrinsic the Bank is to Australia’s history and future.
Communicate, excite and engage: tell our people what kind of behaviour, attitude and actions are required to live up to the Bank’s promise to customers.
Inspire ownership: Hand ownership of behaviour and actions over to individuals and teams – tell them that it’s up to them to make the difference.
Show that we’re all in it together: Display how management and staff alike are working to the same goal.
Drive traffic and encourage service conversations: All of the work is intended to drive online traffic to the all-important Customer Satisfaction homepage, and to encourage and facilitate conversations about service. It is important that those conversations happen at grass roots level, and that we could open up feedback channels right to management.


We wanted to look beyond catchy brand statements for sentiments and motivators that can easily be acted on – in this case it was ‘Determined’.

This gave birth to our ‘We are Determined’ campaign. This simple statement provided the rallying cry the Bank needed, getting everyone on the same page and giving us a suitable platform to plan communications that created dialogue between the Bank and its employees. 

It was clear that the challenge of engaging 40,000 employees in functionally and geographically diverse roles, was going to need an ongoing, flexible program of communication. One that allows us to tailor messages to different audiences depending on their role and to use different mediums to reach them depending on their function and location.

Imagination conducted a three-month discovery phase that consisted of a thorough audit of:

  1. Audiences,
  2. Communications,
  3. Channels, and
  4. Staff access parameters. 

This phase delivered key insights on channels, existing programs, languages and execution preferences that best informed engaging communications.


Over the past 12 months, we’ve delivered both big ticket and several grass-roots items, all with a very distinct look, feel and language – unmistakably Commonwealth Bank, but very much a celebration of its people and their efforts.

Group-wide photography
To start developing communication that resonated and had relevance, we built an employee photo library. Over 2,000 images celebrate real employees – from every business unit and from a wide range of city and regional locations across the country – in action. It allows us to tailor imagery depending for any audience we’re talking with.

‘Determined’ films
We created a series of films showcasing and celebrating the Bank’s people, as they help tell a range of important strategic and inspiring stories about the future. Initially, gathering volunteers to act in front of camera was challenging, but after the success of the first film, we have overwhelming incoming demand from individuals and teams nominating themselves, or colleagues, to be part of the action.

The films are delivered on-demand via the intranet, and on CBA-TV to all 40,000 employees. By staff demand, they’ve also been launched ‘in branch’ for customers.

‘Moments that make a Difference’
Our filmic short stories celebrate the everyday moments that show real employees telling real stories about how they make a real difference to the Bank’s customers. Shorts are delivered on CBA-TV to all 40,000 employees and are available on-demand on its intranet with a blog and discussion board to encourage dialogue.

‘Make every moment count’ short film
A short thank you to all staff for helping make enormous leaps in customer satisfaction ratings. Again, it features an all-staff cast celebrating their tremendous efforts in customer service, reminding them that every smiling customer gets the Bank closer to being number one. Delivered on CBA-TV to all 40,000 employees and available on-demand on the intranet.

Bank of the Year campaign
The latest campaign has been campaign celebrating the industry’s greatest honour, Money magazine’s Bank of the Year for 2010. We have delivered support collateral including a celebratory film, CommNet banners pointing people toward the film, screensavers for all employees, plus environmental branding in key foyer areas.

Inside the scenes – the making of the brand advertising campaign
Most recently delivered is a four-episode ‘Inside the Scenes’ documentary series to support the launch of the Bank’s new advertising campaign. The campaign was developed by Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Micmacs). Imagination’s work brings to life the ideas behind the advertising so staff understand and can better deliver on the brand promises to customers.

Determined to be #1 brand book
A ‘desk drop’ brand book that tells the story of what really matters at the Commonwealth Bank. The book features employee faces and communicates where the Bank is going, how it’s getting there, and what every employee’s role is in making that a reality.

Banners, posters and tactical collateral
Imagination has also delivered everyday tactical pieces, from posters, to intranet banners supporting some of the above work.


Imagination’s ‘Delivering Difference’ internal engagement campaign project is viewed to have been a major contributing factor in engaging staff, defining the role of staff in brand and evolving the dialogue within the bank to a unified objective and aligning employees with the Bank’s vision.

Here are some of the evaluation milestones reached:

  • The Commonwealth Bank now has more satisfied customers than St George, ANZ and Westpac combined – double that of any other single bank
  • The past year has seen Commonwealth Bank add an additional 350,000 satisfied customers to a reach an all-time high of over four million. This equates to 75.5% of all customers scoring the Bank 8/10 to 10/10
  • The Bank has registered its ninth consecutive improvement in customer satisfaction, now posting its highest ranking since customer satisfaction tracking began
  • The Commonwealth Bank has had the largest improvement of the major banks in the past month, three-month and six-month intervals
  • Latest internal engagement scores rank Commonwealth Bank at over 80%, putting them in the top 20% for job satisfaction worldwide
  • The initial launch ‘Determined’ film generated enormous buzz throughout the Bank, with the CEO, Ralph Norris, having his inbox flooded with compliments and calls to make the film public to showcase the employee commitment to customers
  • Within the first week of launch the film had over 25,000 unique views on CommNet (intranet), over 90% penetration of CommNet users – a 500% increase
  • ‘Moments that make a Difference’ launched with over 5,000 unique views and 100% average view time. The supporting blog submission system was temporarily closed due to overwhelming demand
  • Delivering Difference’ campaign content accounts for 50% of all video content views on CommNet (Over 4,000 unique visits per calendar month)
  • ‘Make every moment count’ animatic attracts 2,000 unique views with average viewing time of 100%, and
  • Customer Satisfaction site traffic averages 16,598 unique daily visitors – around 40% of all employees and over 70% penetration of Intranet users.