Introducing Foster, the Oaken squirrel

[Cache #199]

By Andris Pone

President, Coin Branding

It turns out there is indeed a first time for everything, for I am now a father.

Sort of.

Because I have parented – or more accurately, named – a squirrel.  He is Foster, the animated brand spokessquirrel of Oaken Financial, Canada’s newest direct-to-consumer banking brand.  Oaken sells predominantly GICs to a target market of savvy savers.  The brand’s core values, which Foster will be integral in expressing, include great security, great savings and great customer service.

foster, the oaken squirrel

Why a squirrel in the first place?  The squirrel concept was developed by the Oaken team before they came to me.  The idea of a squirrel to help tell the brand story is very clever and highly promising.  In a nutshell, squirrels are nature’s savers.  They also happen to live in oak trees and they store things for the future, because they want to be comfortable in that future.

The characteristics of Oaken’s particular squirrel were defined before his name was finalized.  My clients gave him the job of embodying Oaken’s down-to-earth, transparent company culture and encouraging Canadians to take control of their financial future.  He is intelligent, witty and sometimes cheeky – but never cheesy.  And above all, he is well versed in the financial world and he imparts knowledge of smart saving practices.

How was Foster chosen from a shortlist of names?  Names, of course, have jobs to do.  Five criteria, all related to telling the brand story in a memorable and remark-able fashion, were especially key in this case, being references to / double entendres with:

-the Oaken brand story (great savings, great security, etc)
-the name Oaken and its positioning statement, Plant for your future
-squirrels, trees and other forest imagery
-this particular squirrel’s characteristics

And, perhaps most important was the remark-ability factor:  how well suited was the name to hook in people’s minds and have them talking about it with others?

The definition of foster, aside from its meanings relating to foster children, is To encourage or promote the development of something.  It is also synonymous with words including nurture, cultivate, enrich and strengthen.  All of these words and meanings relate to the squirrel’s ability to securely foster savings, as well as foster in consumers the knowledge of how to plant for their future.

And, it turns out that Foster as a baby name has meanings that include keeper of the forest.

Being a word rich with on-brand meaning, and also one that happens to be a real and rather cute name for a boy, Foster has the remark-ability factor in spades.

And so I wish Foster well.  He’s back in the hands of his true parents – the team at Oaken – who now have the all-important job of giving him a productive life.

Toronto Star story here, including coverage of Oaken’s beautiful new store in Toronto’s financial district.

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