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How high street problem-solving generated national recognition for Square

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Kerry Gould
Associate Director, Business & Corporate

Every month, we take a look at the wider world of marketing, and identify one campaign that truly inspires us. It might be a brand reaching its audience in a novel way, it may be a highly impactful and unique message, or it could just be a brand that ‘zigs’ while their competitors ‘zag’. This month, we focus on a brand which had to generate awareness from a starting point of zero.

How do you promote your brand in a fiercely competitive foreign market? If you’re the US online payments firm Square, you look for a problem to solve.

Square was founded in 2009 by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. He says its mission is to empower people by giving them the right tools to become part of the economy. Its platform allows small businesses and traders to take card and smartphone payments via an online account and a portable contactless device.

But launching into the UK, Square faced stiff competition, and needed to raise its profile with small businesses and local government businesses decision-makers. The brand’s response, its ‘Digital Town’ partnership with Holywell near the Welsh coast, gets the nod from the Speed team this month as an outstanding communications initiative.

Holywell was a town under pressure. The rapid closure of several high street bank branches meant cash had become difficult to access, and high street footfall suffered as people instead travelled to out of town developments where they knew card payments would be accepted.

Square partnered with the town council to launch a scheme that would distribute their contactless payment devices to local businesses. At a stroke, the scheme enabled card payments in 95% of the town’s businesses.

The ‘Digital Town’ initiative generated national coverage for Square. It told a compelling story about the challenges being faced by so many small businesses up and down the country, and in giving Holywell’s businesses and traders the tools to save their high street, it utterly epitomised the brand stated mission.


Take a look at Newsnight’s coverage of the issue of bank closures, and Square’s innovative solution here:

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