Brand Positioning Transforms Open Solutions to an Integrated High-tech Product and Service Empire

Posted on 14. Jan, 2011 by in Business, Portfolio

Overview and Strategy

The goal of this corporate positioning campaign was to manage Open Solutions’ transition from a database software company to its new role as the leading provider of comprehensive business solutions and enabling technologies for community-based financial institutions. First Experience Communications (FEC) was contracted to create an integrated marketing communications plan to reposition it as an emerging technology company. Primary audiences were: existing customers; prospects, including executive level bank officers, marketing directors and technology specialists at community banks, thrifts and credit unions with under $4 billion in assets; business and technology consultants who were often engaged by banks to select a technology vendor; key editors and writers in the financial trade press; strategic partners (Oracle, Microsoft, etc.); and potential sources of venture capital funding.

Strategy and Tactics

The client had commissioned an extensive “state of the industry” study and competitive overview, including interviews with customers who had decided in favor of and against Open Solutions in competitive RFP situations. Open Solutions had to confront a new paradigm that was transforming the banking industry. Research showed the industry’s share of U.S. household assets fell from 30% to 19% from 1989 to 1995. At the same time, deregulation allowed brokerages, insurers, and other non-traditional providers to offer banking services. Obsolete mainframe technologies prevented banks from executing their growth strategies. FEC conducted focus groups with Open Solutions senior management and sales teams and determined that the industry tended to position technology providers as a commodity in the value chain. Armed with this information, the company’s Chairman and CEO developed a new vision and strategy. The plan created new revenue opportunities for community financial institutions by allowing them to process a larger share of transactions and capitalize on their two unique assets: trust and community. Based on the input from the third-party research, and the results from the focus group sessions, FEC planned a one-year repositioning campaign that included the creation and branding of all of the company’s marketing collateral and logo; public relations to key industry trades; advertising campaign, website re-development and tradeshow booth design.


To support the new vision, FEC created a new brand identity and corporate positioning – COMMUNITY. COMMERCE. TECHNOLOGY. Tactics included the creation of a new suite of corporate identity and marketing collateral materials; corporate advertising; public relations counsel and media relations. Another critical element of the campaign was to give banks the tools they needed to educate their business and commercial customers and promote Internet banking and e-commerce. FEC also provided support materials for presentations to venture capitalists and prospective affiliate partners, revamped the corporate website and created new user-interfaces for the online community, Internet banking and online buying networks.


FEC began working with Open Solutions in June of 1996. At that time, the company had 40 employees and 24 institutions under contract and sales of $4 million. By 2008, Open Solutions had become a privately-owned company with 2,800 employees and had tripled its facility size. 2007 was a record year for Open Solutions, mainly due to the repositioning and branding strategy implemented by the company with market, public relations and advertising planning support provided by FEC. The company added more than 600 new clients and now represents over 1200 banks and credit unions nationwide. Total revenue for the year increased to approximately $400 million. In 1999, Open Solutions was designated fastest growing company in Connecticut (19th in the nation) with more than 12,000% growth, according to the Connecticut Technology Council and Deloitte & Touche, LLC. In 2005, Open Solutions was the eighth fastest growing technology company in Connecticut, and its growth rate still exceeds 5,000%. The company has been on this list every year since. Favorable media coverage about Open Solutions was achieved in both the trade and the general press. In 2007, Louis Hernandez, Jr., CEO and Chairman, was named one of the top five innovators and visionaries in Bank Technology News.

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