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Article by Lynne P. Feiz, SVP, Corporate Communications Officer

Photography by Danielle Barton

Originally published in Westfield City Lifestyle

According to President and CEO Matthew S. Sosik, bankESB’s mission is to help customers face their most important financial decisions with confidence and assurance—and in the process, unlock the power of their financial potential for themselves, their families, and their businesses. With the introduction of its new Unlock Your Potential brand platform, bankESB and its Westfield branch are demonstrating just what it means to have a community bank in your corner, helping you get where you need to go.

“HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE?” THAT QUESTION IS AT THE HEART OF everything they do at bankESB, the $1.6 billion community bank headquartered in Easthampton with 12 branches across western Massachusetts, including one in downtown Westfield at 85 Broad St. 

So naturally that was the question this 150-year-old institution cared about most when they recently undertook efforts to update their brand earlier this fall. 

As a local community bank, bankESB’s mission has always been to deliver individualized financial support that ensures customers can harness their financial power and build a successful future. Time and again, customers say that this personalized support—coupled with convenience and access to cutting-edge technology—are the most important factors in choosing a financial institution. 

“We feel strongly about helping customers achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations and live life to its fullest,” said Matthew S. Sosik, bankESB’s president and chief executive officer. “So we wanted to convey how passionately our employees are about living out this mission.”

That’s why the bank undertook a yearlong effort to understand what was most important to retail and business customers at important milestones in their lives and how the bank’s branch employees were positioned to deliver on them, while empowering those in the communities it serves across Western Massachusetts.

Introducing:  Unlock Your Potential

According to Sosik, the new “Unlock Your Potential” brand identity introduced this fall isn’t just another corporate tagline but represents a commitment to making a meaningful difference in the lives of their customers. 

“It’s about helping our customers through the most important financial decisions they face with confidence and assurance,” Sosik said. “When we do that, we help our customers unlock the power of their own financial potential for themselves, their families, and their businesses.”

Sosik says that this commitment is reinforced by his employees’ local know-how and passion for providing a customer-first experience that helps each customer build a unique and successful future.

The bank unveiled the new brand identity including a new logo, advertising, communications, and signage that are modern, lively, and represent those who live and work in Hampden and Hampshire Counties.

According to Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Dena M. Hall, the bank’s advertising will include three new TV commercials on both network and cable television that showcase how the bank helps customers achieve important milestones in their lives, and will also feature the suite of innovative products and services that make banking convenient and accessible, such as Mobile Banking with Mobile Deposit, face recognition and fingerprint login, person-to-person payments, and more. 

“We have the same smart banking technology that bigger banks have to make banking in your busy life simple, secure, and literally at your fingertips, but deliver them in a way that is convenient and accessible for everyone,” Hall said.

Also featured in the campaign is the bank’s commitment to giving back to the neighborhoods it serves through its sponsorship and charitable giving program and the Easthampton Savings Bank Charitable Foundation. bankESB prides itself on being a good neighbor, both through employees donating time in their communities and through the support of local non-profit, civic, and educational organizations.  In 2019, the bank and foundation donated more than $337,000 to nearly 250 organizations in Hampden and Hampshire counties, and over the last five years has donated nearly $1.7 million. In Westfield alone, the bank has donated over $50,000 in just the last three years, demonstrating its commitment to the town its done business in for more than a decade.

One of the beneficiaries of this giving has been Westfield on Weekends, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that seeks to enrich the community with accessible artistic and cultural events, programs and entertainment. WOW President Bob Plasse says his organization’s partnership with the bank began as soon as the branch opened in Westfield, and that over the years, bankESB has helped fund such Westfield traditions as the MusicFest summer concert series, DecemberFest, a holiday calendar of community activities, and, most recently, PumpkinFest, WOW’s most popular event that attracts thousands to Westfield in early fall. Plasse said that in addition to financial support, the bank offered the organization space on the second floor of its Broad Street branch office for storing supplies and costumes for their programming.

“Katrina and her staff have opened their doors to us with grace and good cheer,” Plasse said. “WOW will be ever grateful to bankESB for being there for non-profits like ours and for helping us to foster and sustain a vibrant community life for our fair city.”

Celebrating 13 Years in Westfield

It’s that commitment to community that originally brought bankESB to open a branch in downtown Westfield just over 13 years ago.  At the time, Easthampton Savings Bank, as it was known then, was looking to open its eighth branch location in western Massachusetts and had purchased the Pearce House, an 1854 Italianate-styled home on Broad Street in historic downtown Westfield. 

When some residents expressed concern about the future of the historic home, the bank listened. bankESB took 18 months to renovate the structure and to preserve its original look and feel while updating the interior to allow for a modern bank branch. While a carriage house was relocated to Arrowhead in Pittsfield, the bank worked with a local architect to save the most historic parts of the site. Many of the original walls, the original stairway, and several of the most ornate windows were retained, and an addition was constructed to nearly match the style of the original house. The result was a branch, opened in October 2007, that complemented and blended with the historic downtown. Shortly after opening, the bank was honored with the Historical Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse by the Westfield Historical Commission.

Today, the Westfield office has eight employees and offers a full range of banking services including safe deposit boxes. Vice President and Branch Officer Katrina G. Dziedzic has managed the branch from the day it opened and says that the town has embraced the branch in part because of the care and concern the bank took for preserving the charm and integrity of the downtown.

“I believe the people of Westfield are our customers today because of their ability to see past their initial objections and realize that we are a bank that cares about our customers and the community and, while I may be biased, a wonderful bank to do business with,” Dziedzic said. “And I don’t know if it’s just urban legend, but I heard that our branch may have been the site of the first flushing toilet in Westfield, so there’s that,” she laughed.

Though located in an historic home, bankESB has continued to add new services and technologies that meet the demands of customers looking for up-to-date solutions to everyday financial needs. That’s part of why the Unlock Your Potential brand resonates, because of the bank’s ability to evolve and meet the needs of customers at every turn in their lives.

For bankESB, of course, the proof is in the pudding. According to Sosik, the next phase of their brand evolution will showcase real customers who will participate by telling their stories to demonstrate how bankESB helps them in their communities every day.

“Our customers know that we’ll do whatever we can set them on the right path and help them thrive,” he said. “I can’t wait to share their stories.”