TD Bank: community, confidence, and customer experience

Learn about TD bank’s brand relaunch and how they transform their iconic Canadian brand from comfort to confidence.

Shift podcast

“Your brand is a promise to your customers. And customer experience is how you bring that brand promise to life.”

TD Bank: community, confidence, and customer experience

Creating a legendary customer experience is no easy task. In this episode of Shift we are talking all things customer experience with TD Bank's Global Brand and Customer Experience Officer Tyrrell Schmidt. Tyrrell takes us behind the scenes of relaunching an iconic Canadian brand, their marquee sponsorships across Canada, and the importance of instilling “confidence” when it comes to your banking experience.

Jon: Hey, thanks for joining and welcome to Shift. PwC Canada's Podcast Series, where we go behind the scenes with Canada's leading organizations to hear their digital transformation stories. I'm your host, John Finkelstein, executive creative director here at PwC Canada and hardened Blue Jays fan. Legendary experience index, or LEI. Have you heard of it? In this episode of Shift, I'm in conversation with the woman, the myth, the legend, Tyrrell Schmidt; the global brand and consumer experience officer at TD Bank. We chat about what it takes to relaunch an iconic Canadian brand, creating a customer experience centered around confidence and much more. Check it out. All right, welcome to another episode of Shift. Today we have Tyrrell Schmidt, Global Brand and Consumer Experience Officer.

Tyrrell: Thank you, thrilled to be here.

Jon: Now, for those of you who are listening, you don't know that I'm wearing my Blue Jays shirt, in support, not only of the team, but in support of TD's amazing sponsorship.

Tyrrell: Thank you, we appreciate that and you look amazing in it.

Jon: Go Jays! It's Guerrero Jr if anybody's interested. But anyway, let's start off with an easy question, why don't you just let everybody know who you are and what you're up to at TD.

Tyrrell: Yeah, absolutely, so I've been at TD for just about five years, it'll be five years in April. Time flew. I run, as you said, I run the global brand and customer experience practice at TD and it's been fantastic to work for a company who believes so deeply in both of those things. So brand and customer experiences, led at the top of the house, but felt deeply all the way through the organization. So it's been an absolute privilege to be able to lead that team.

Jon: So tell me a little bit more about that because, the notion of experience, customer experience, cx, whatever you wanna call it. That's one of those things that people are talking a lot about. What does customer experience mean for TD?

Tyrrell: Yeah, so I think firstly I would tie it to the brand. So, the reason why we've brought those two things together is because they are so connected. So we think of it as, your brand is your promise to your customers and your customer experience is how you interact with the brand and actually how that brand promise comes to life at each and every touchpoint that the customer has with you. The other thing that I would add, at TD we set a high bar for customer experience and so we measure what we call the legendary experience and act. So we look to make sure that we are delivering exceptional, legendary experiences, especially at those moments that matter for our brand.

Jon: The LEI.

Tyrrell: LEI.

Jon: Do you call it--

Tyrrell: We do call it, nope, we call it LEI.

Jon: I love that. Legendary Experience Index, did you guys make that up?

Tyrrell: So we did, pre my time. So it's been around for years actually, at TD, but it really just, I think talks to the aspiration that we want to deliver an experience that feels legendary to our customers. And so, you measure what matters and that matters to us and so we've been doing that for years. We have a brand that is really beloved by tons of Canadians, and that people are incredibly proud of, internally at TD. And so, in 2017, we actually started looking at the environment and recognizing that the market was moving really quickly. To use a stat that I think we all hear, we've had more change in the last five years than we have in the prior 100. We recognized that we really needed to look at our brand, and make sure that it was fit for the current consumer, etc.. And TD had had the same brand promise around comfortable banking that is pretty well known and was very well known actually in the Canadian landscape. And that brand promise had lived for 17 years. And so what we did is really look to say, as we look at what consumers and our customers are expecting, does the brand, is it as relevant today and will it be in the future as it has been. And so we did a huge insights study, we talked to about 15,000 consumers and really understood, kind of the equity that we had in the brand, what we really need to retain, and there was a lot. But then also really kind of stepping up, so we evolved from a positioning around comfort to confidence. Recognizing that 79% of Canadians don't feel confident in their financial future.

Jon: 15,000 people, that's a lot. And I think that's probably a lot more than most brands would research, talk to, think about. Why was talking to people so important?

Tyrrell: We really relied on insights and data, in part because we continued to have a leading position. And so we really wanted to make sure that we understood the needs of our customers before we evolved the brand. That was just really important. It also really helped shape the dialogue internally, as any large organization, especially one that believes so deeply in it's brand, we needed to be able to socialize and convince a lot of people that we should evolve the brand. Those insights and the data really took the discussion to a new level. And also helped us when people had a lot of deeply held beliefs about the brand, so it helped us really shape the dialogue, the need for change, but also what we were pulling through and keeping and what we're evolving to the next level.

Jon: That's great, because being in advertising for 25 years myself, one of the things that we often encountered was this notion of boardroom apathy, which is hey, we have a very successful campaign, now we're bored of it, let's change it. And then they change it, and maybe they don't talk to people, or maybe they're just making it different for different's sake and it doesn't drive the business in the same way that it did before. So you run the risk sometimes of having something that has a ton of equity in it, comfort, the green chair, we're very familiar with it. And then they we go and change it and people are gonna go, what happened to the comfort, I liked that? So how did you manage to bridge the gap between what people knew and understood TD to be, comfort, green chair, etc, to this new notion of confidence? And how did you bring them on that journey.

Tyrrell: Yeah, and it is, I would say an evolution, and so a lot of the equity that we built, and comfort, we've certainly retained. So the things that created a comfortable banking environment were convenience and service and longer hours, and we still have those things. Those are things that continue to differentiate us. Similarly, the green chair, we modernized it, we slimmed it down, we made it a little bit more current. But we retained it, because actually almost 70% of Canadians recognized that green chair. So to walk away from something that is such a powerful icon, we didn't want to do that. And so we really retained those core equities, and then built on them. And really started talking about the fact that we know that we're still delivering great service, we're still delivering convenience, but we also know that we need to deliver personalized experience and proactive advice and solutions. And really modernize the concept of convenience as well. And all of that to deliver and help our customers feel more confident about their financial future.

Jon: So talking to 15,000 Canadians and getting a fundamental understanding of what TD means to them or what they want from the brand, did you talk to employees?

Tyrrell: We absolutely did. And I would say we did that from top of the house and really got buy in from the CEO and his senior executive team, which is so important. We knew that our brand wouldn't succeed any kind of evolved brand wouldn't succeed if it were housed in marketing. And so we really needed to have buy in across the organization. So that started at the top of the house, but in terms of how it came to life and really understanding it from a front line perspective. That was very important and we continue that dialogue. One of our biggest learnings, one of my biggest learnings has been, something you kind of intuitively know, that you don't change a brand, or even evolve a brand, that's been around with the same positioning for 17 years overnight. And so we continue today, to really embed the brand and we do that through dialogue with our front line staff, our HR teams, our risk teams, because everybody has a role in terms of delivering confidence. And so we are constantly seeking input, guidance,advice, from those constituents. So that was important in the beginning and continues to be important today.

Jon: I think that's a really important thing for people to understand no matter what they're doing or what their organization is. So whether it's a massive relaunch of a brand, or something like an adoption program where you're looking at new technology and getting people to work differently, you have to have that buy in from employees. And they have to understand what it is you're doing, why it is you're doing it, because they are helping you deliver on the promise of the ads, or whatever it is that we're doing.

Tyrrell: Yeah, and we've come a long way in just two years, from just that deeply held foundation around comfort.

Jon: TD as a brand has really been ingrained or aligned to some of the most visible Toronto landmarks, hallmarks, etc... Rogers Center, Union Station, the Jazz Festival, all these things, I mean, we see TD everywhere. Perhaps you could talk a little bit about how people have responded to that, what the role of confidence has been in there, maybe a little bit about ROI?

Tyrrell: Yeah, for sure. So sponsorship plays a really important role in terms of bringing the brand out into the marketplace and creating engagement. I think if you look at any stats about brand, it's really important to help create emotional connections with the brand. And so we really leverage the sponsorships that we have and they extend beyond Toronto. Obviously we've got some very iconic properties here, but recently we did a deal with the Vancouver Canucks, a number of other places, we've got music across the board, the Junos, the CCMA's, the sheer... And all of those actually create these great engagement touchpoints with our customers. We also look for properties where we can actually create a legendary experience. So if you look at Union Station, we've been working with them. Our collective vision was to enhance the experience for visitors, commuters and our customers alike.

Jon: That's awesome. I love how visible TD is out in the world. And I love this notion of the legendary experience. I also am really interested to know more about the community sponsorship and how financial literacy and confidence plays a role in helping solidify TD's brand position in the market.

Tyrrell: We recently launched a program called the Ready Commitment, which is our commitment to citizenship and to really building an inclusive future that allows everyone to thrive. And if you think about that, that is directly related to confidence, because if you're not included, and if you don't have an inclusive future, you can't be confident. As we look at purpose driven brands, which we know now are so important to our customers and to our employees as well. The Ready Commitment coupled with the brand around confidence, just really driving that brand with purpose in the market.

Jon: So smart because, I don't think it matters who you are, or what level you're at, new to Canada or well established and ready to retire. We all wanna be confident. We're all looking for that, and I think, as an aside, our savings and our retirement is a little bit like, I think for a lot of us, we're afraid of it in the way we're afraid of death. We know we need it and we know it's gonna come at some point, but we kinda, we push it over here...that's someday.

Tyrrell: Yeah, we absolutely heard in the insight work that we did in the brand, that lack of confidence is not just for people who're starting off, right? We actually heard that every demographic, if you're getting ready to retire you're thinking about, am I gonna be able to live the life that I've always led, so it actually is quite pervasive. And when you think about 79% of Canadians, it's obviously pervasive.

Jon: Oh yeah.

Tyrrell: Across all sort of socioeconomic variables.

Jon: I find one of the things that's really interesting in the work that we do here, is hearing back from people on the impact that it's had. I wonder, are there are stories that you could share with us where someone has really felt the impact of the new platform of confidence, and you've heard that kind of reflected back in a positive way?

Tyrrell: Yeah, so really good examples are things like fraud, when you have fraud on your card or you have fraud on your account, that is a moment where we need to shine as a brand, because it's a massive moment of confidence. So we relaunched fraud alerts, and telling that story, launching that proof point, we know, had a big impact on people, where they feel like, I'm now in control, so I can be alerted if you suspect fraud on my account. So there are those everyday moments. The other thing that we've done is every year we launch a program that we call TD Thanks You. It's been a great program running now for four years, so confidence really comes to life in those stories. There are personal stories where our TD branch staff have built great personal connections with our customers and are helping them feel more confident. Last year we talked about our customers who were making a difference in the community. We had somebody in Calgary who was setting off to run across Canada in support of rare diseases. His young son was diagnosed with a rare disease and he just really realized that that was a gap in terms of research. So that was his mission and so our branch team knew him, worked with him, helped him feel confident about how he was gonna be able to do that and played a role there. Obviously he had a big support team around him. But, telling those stories, they happen every day in our branches, with our front line staff, in ways that enrich our lives as well as our customers.

Jon: Amazing. It's amazing when people take something that you're doing and kind of make it their own. Or they use it as a banner to really get behind. It's really, really super rewarding. When you think about confidence, it really does touch almost every aspect of the business and of the connections with people. So whether it's cyber or fraud or investing or savings or overdraft, or whatever it is, it's like you wanna feel in control and you wanna feel like your bank has your back. So I'm gonna ask a question, peek behind the curtain if you will, is there anything that you can share with us, any projects, any exciting something that you're working on right now that's really getting you excited?

Tyrrell: Yeah, tons of things. I think in brand and customer experience, it changes everyday, and the bar gets set higher every day. We always talk about our strategy, and our strategy for the last couple of years hasn't changed dramatically, because the mountain's tall and we're only part of the way up it. I think until we really own confidence and deliver legendary experiences everywhere, we're constantly striving for a really high bar. You talked earlier about the connection between purpose and community and brand, and we've got a campaign out in the market now that talks to the fact that four in 10 Canadians actually live with unstable income. And so, again, back to confidence, that doesn't create a lot of confidence for them. And so our citizenship group partnered with organizations around Canada who are putting in place programs and training to help people be able to get to a place where they have more stable income.

Jon: All right, it's the lightning round time.

Tyrrell: Awesome.

Jon: Yes, so, unprepared. You don't know want I'm gonna ask you. I don't know what I'm gonna ask you. Just answer as quickly and as honestly as you can.

Tyrrell: Okay.

Jon: All right, what's the best place you've ever traveled?

Tyrrell: India is the most unique culture.

Jon: Awesome, I have not been to India but I would like to go.

Tyrrell: Fascinating.

Jon: What do you eat for breakfast? Favorite thing? 

Tyrrell: One of two things, apples and peanut butter, or yogurt and blueberries, everyday.

Jon: Wow.

Tyrrell: Boring.

Jon: So, if you go to one of those amazing restaurant brunches, whatever--

Tyrrell: Yeah, yogurt and blueberries for sure, because they may not have peanut butter.

Jon: I thought, eggs...something, it's good though. What's your biggest pet peeve?

Tyrrell: Negativity.

Jon: Nice.

Tyrrell: Negativity.

Jon: Doesn't that suck the life out of the room?

Tyrrell: Yeah, right? Positive attitude.

Jon: Early bird or night owl?

Tyrrell: For sure an early bird.

Jon: What time do you get up in the morning?

Tyrrell: 5:30, 6:00.

Jon: That's pretty good, yeah. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Tyrrell: I would say visualize a positive outcome.

Jon: Can you explain that a little bit?

Tyrrell: Yeah, so somebody told me once, that no matter what you're doing, so whether it's at work, you have a big meeting, you have a presentation, you should always visualize the audience being engaged. Or visualize a great outcome at the end. I'm a big runner and so, as well, going into a race that I'm not comfortable with, a marathon or something, I always visualize a positive outcome. Yep, I know I'm gonna finish that, I know it's hilly, but I'm gonna finish it.

Jon: Awesome. I think my final question might be, for our listeners, if you had to give them a piece of advice. Undertaking a brand refresh from such a huge institution as TD is monumental. What advice might you give someone who is thinking about or undertaking a major brand repositioning, brand refresh, what would you tell them?

Tyrrell: I think the biggest thing, and we talked to it, is engagement. So, engagement, get feedback, listen, to your customers. Listen to the market, listen to your employees and make sure that it's well socialized. I think you can't do, you can't take on a big brand refresh or evolution on your own. Or even as just part of the marketing department, it really needs to be felt, owned and believed by everybody in the organization, and by the customers that you're gonna talk to.

Jon: I love that. Awesome. Hopefully for our listeners, that'll give you a little confidence, see what I did there, on thinking about what you need to do to make these big transformation real. And impactful and work.

Tyrrell: That's the goal.

Jon: Well, that is the end of another episode, that went by really quickly.

Tyrrell: It did.

Jon: Thank you so much for sharing the insights around what TD's been doing on the brand refresh. And giving us a behind the scenes look on what confidence means and how it's articulated out in the market. Super cool. Tyrrell, thank you so much.

Tyrrell: Thanks for having me.

Jon: Thanks for listening to this episode of Shift. You can get more details at If you enjoyed this episode and wanna hear more, subscribe to our podcast series, and make sure you rate us too. You can find us on Tunes, Spotify, Google Play or your preferred podcast platform. Have an idea for Shift? We wanna hear it. Let us know on social by submitting your idea with #shiftpodcast. Just so you know, this podcast has been prepared by Price Waterhouse Cooper's LLP, an Ontario Limited Liability Partnership, for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. Until next time.

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