Capital One’s Café Tour Focused On ‘Reimagining’ Physical Bank Branches

Mobile banking is mainstream, but financial services customers want both the interactive and personal connection, says Capital One Marketing Dir. Shannon Jones.

As Capital One wraps up its “Banking Reimagined Tour,” which is designed to highlight the bank’s digital and personal touchpoints, Marketing Director Shannon Jones says the goal is to advance new reasons for why a branch needs to exist in the first place.

For one thing, it’s not just about having ATM locations where consumers can get their cash — that’s just table stakes, Jones said when speaking at Brand Innovator’s Brand Summit-Austin during SxSW this past month.

“Banking is changing. People’s lives are changing: everything’s digital, but customers still want a personal connection,” Jones says. “From a money perspective, it’s stressful. People go online, read articles, and come away more confused and don’t know who to trust. The physical locations help people manage that.”

The 10-city Banking Reimagined Tour began in February in Glendale, CA. and concludes the second week in April in Austin, Tx.

The tour involves a roving tractor trailer loaded with ATMs as well as interactive screens, the plan is to garner attention for the 17 Capital One Cafés around the country that “rethink” the bank branch as something resembling a Starbucks — albeit with tellers (who are instead titled “coaches” in Capital One Café parlance) and free wifi, and coffee by Peet’s.

“People can just hang out,” Jones said. “But there are features that can connect consumers with the bank. For example, there are interactive screens where people can play games that challenge visitors on ‘how to pay down your debt’ or ‘buy an engagement ring.’ We also have demo bar where people can try out new technologies like Amazon’s Alexa. It’s a way to engage with our customers and the surrounding community.”

To spark that local engagement, Capital One Cafés actually go one step further than Starbucks as a way-

Capital One’s Shannon Jones and John Andrews, Co-Founder & President, Prevailing Path, at Brand Innovators’ Brand Summit-Austin

station for telecommuters and freelancers by offering meeting rooms that people can book (they’re free for local non-profits to use as well).

Still, to reflect this reimagining of the bank branch, Capital One Cafés also host money-coaching workshops. It’s a soft approach to marketing a bank branch, as Jones hastens to say that “it’s not financial planning; it’s about figuring out your goals and where your money can take you. The first three sessions are complementary.”

The bank is preparing to open its next Capital One Café in Seattle some time this year, Jones said. We asked her whether the rollout of the cafés meant that Capital One also had to rethink its approach to the marketing of its locations.

“Many moons ago, I worked for Starbucks, and the idea was simply, ‘We open up in a neighborhood and people just come in,’ Jones told GeoMarketing. “Now, not only do we have to look at the neighborhood itself, but what is it that people search for so that we remain discoverable. It requires a whole new approach to digital marketing and analytics across all our locations as we figure out how to port all the insights we have to the cafes.”

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.