Big bank brands continue to suffer

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It's no surprise that banks, especially large banks, have an image problem in the consumer market.

The effects of the mortgage meltdown and the foreclosure fiasco--in addition to the many fee controversies--have blackened the eye of the industry, a wound that is healing only slowly. A new survey has found that only 22 percent of consumers "have respect for banks such as Citi, Chase and Bank of America." They find these banks "too aggressive, image-focused and competitive." Only 16 percent of respondents said they would "love to use these banks in the future." Of the 250 brands studied, these banks landed in the bottom 15 across all categories, below Camel, Mobil and McDonald's. Only one bank made it into the top 20 brands: the tiny USAA.

The survey suggests that bank customers want to switch but are held back by a perceived lack of alternatives. This, of course, suggests than while community banks and credit unions have a big opportunity, they too need to cultivate the retail market a bit better. Still, a recent survey from J.D. Power has nevertheless discerned a movement from traditional banks to credit unions and small banks.

In addition, recent American Customer Satisfaction index scores have confirmed that credit unions have gained credibility in the consumer market. In fact, customer satisfaction with credit unions has hit an all-time high, soaring to a score of 87 on a 100 point index. That's the highest score ever attained by one of the 47 industries monitored by the index. At the same time, customer satisfaction with banks fell a bit to 75.

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