marketer of the week

The force of nature behind Nationwide’s rebrand: Catherine Kehoe

Leadership that moves mountains … this is what the bank’s chief customer, brand and engagement officer applied to produce Nationwide’s biggest brand refresh in over 30 years

By creative salon

What does bold marketing leadership look like? “Facts, flair and dressed in McQueen.” This is what Catherine Kehoe told the Marketing Society in 2014. And while we cannot speak for what she’s wearing in 2023, we can salute Kehoe for maintaining all the necessary flair and addressing all the hard facts throughout the years.

Just eight months into her role as chief customer, brand and engagement officer at Nationwide, the marketer has pushed and directed the bank’s biggest rebrand in 36 years.

The company is on a mission to modernise itself and re-establish its place as a “confident” challenger to the big banks. Its work with communications and customer experience agency New Commercial Arts has certainly caught the attention of consumers and competitors alike and a large part of the push to refresh has been put down to Kehoe’s tenacity.

Having previously spent 15 years at Lloyds Banking Group, where she was most recently chief customer officer, Kehoe has brought unwavering drive and a ferociously honest approach to Nationwide, striving to ensure that the bank continues to be “relevant and attractive”, not only to its valued existing customers, but to future generations of savers and borrowers. Her time in the role has also reignited a working relationship with David Golding and James Murphy, co-founders of New Commercial Arts, who have previously witnessed the grit and determination that Kehoe inspires in her teams when at their former agency adam&eveDDB, which handles the Lloyds account.

Golding and Murphy describe her as “a force of nature and a brilliant marketer” who inspires loyalty and action like “few other” leaders the pair know. Action and lots of it was certainly required to complete Nationwide’s colossal rebrand. From an updated visual identity, to improved accessibility standards, a huge amount of inspirational leadership was needed to execute the modernisation of thousands of touchpoints across the brand’s customer journey. Kehoe also worked to promote the fact that while we live in an increasingly digital-first world, having a physical branch to engage with is as important as ever. This is no mean feat and Nationwide’s ‘Branch Promise’ commits itself to maintaining its place on British high streets until at least 2026.

“Catherine operates at 35,000 feet but knows all the operational details at ground level,” Golding and Murphy added. “She can galvanise a team to truly move mountains with unique levels of ‘can do’, ‘will do’, and ‘don’t get in our way’ determination. It’s a joy to be part of, but comes with a level of expectation that everyone in her team will play their part, know their stuff, and speak their minds.

“Never try to bluff your way through a meeting with Catherine! A brilliant presenter, fiercely loyal, and determined to build the strongest brands in the category, every day working with Catherine brings new challenges, new opportunities and lots of new jokes, mainly at James’s expense. We rather like being part of Catherine’s gang.”

Kehoe is clearly a formidable marketing force, and one of the most impressive marketers and business leaders of her generation. Back in 2014, Kehoe was asked about what inspires her the most, to which she answered: “All the people who have ever said to me ‘it can’t be done’. I’ve learnt that brilliant teams can do brilliant things no matter how extreme the challenges.” Clearly nothing has changed.


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