When you think about an executive at a financial institution, what mental image immediately comes to mind? You may be picturing a blue suit, but definitely not blue hair. But there TradeStation President John Bartleman was, getting his hair colored in the middle of the Oculus, the futuristic-looking mall at the base of New York City’s World Trade Center.
TradeStation is an online brokerage firm that’s evolving. There’s a simpler, flat price structure with lower commissions. The platform is now easier to use, heavily focused on the user experience. TradeStation has gone through a total rebrand and the pop-up hair salon was a way to let the world know, “We’re different now. And we’re cooler than your average trading platform.”
“TradeStation has always been known for day trading. We’ve expanded our audience to include more of an active, casual trader,” says Jodi Fronczke, the brand’s VP of Marketing. “So much of the past year has been about the client experience, trying to break down the barriers that kept people from coming to us.”
Blue tints and big trades
Professional barbers gave free haircuts, with and without blue coloring. TradeStation stocked the shop with various blue wigs and a photographer. People were then emailed their pictures, which were naturally branded for social media.
You couldn’t help but notice the activation. It was practically at the foot of the stairs in an extremely busy transit hub, one strategically chosen for its location in the Financial District. The fun atmosphere and blue hair was there to catch your attention. Once TradeStation had it, they kept it with a demo—but a fun one.
“Our educators taught everyone how to use our mobile app and how to trade, and then we had a competition,” explains Fronczke. “People traded with fake money, and saw their profits and losses on the screen in real time. Whoever made the most—or lost the least—money won a $50 Amazon gift card.
“We wanted to show people that trading can be fun and while you can’t take the risk out of trading, our platform helps you reduce the risks,” she continues, referring to TradeStation’s advanced analytics and educational resources, including TradeStation University.
An omnichannel rebrand
TradeStation’s partnership with Cheddar really highlights the new image the brand is working to project. An online financial news network, Cheddar has been describes as “quasi-CNBC for millennials.” The network currently has 222,000 followers on Facebook, more than half of whom are younger than 35.
Last year, TradeStation launched “The Long and the Short,” a trading show targeted at millennials. The brand also sponsors “Crypto Craze,” a new show about cryptocurrency that films on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Cheddar founder and CEO Jon Steinberg broadcast an episode from the activation, while getting blue hair, of course.
Financial institutions haven’t been the fastest to embrace digital transformation. And yet, TradeStation’s entire rebrand, from the experiential pop-up to the partnership with Cheddar, was omnichannel in nature. The brand is keeping up with the times, acknowledging that the overwhelming majority of today’s customer experiences exist in a limbo between the digital and physical worlds.
“It’s about standing out and doing something different. You don’t always have to be online or offline, but you do have to make the two work together,” says Fronczke. “It’s a great time to take a fresh look at TradeStation. We’re different than we used to be.”