Introducing our annual Student Awards
Centred on a collection of live creative briefs


Develop ideas that will inspire and support first time buyers.


Buying your first home is an exciting but expensive & emotional process. 

We’re keen to explore what we can do to inspire and support first time buyers through our products, services and customer experiences.

At HSBC, our ambition is to help customers achieve their ambitions. Simply, we want to put customer needs at the heart of everything we do. We design products & services that best meet their needs and create digital & physical customer experiences that best support and inspire them on their way; safely and securely. 

In this particular instance, buying a first home is possibly one of the biggest decisions and financial outlays you can make in your life. It is a process filled with pressure, stress and emotion. Today’s market moves with competitive ferocity and huge expense. Once secured, that cost can take about 30 years to pay off… 

The flip side is that you have a place to call home. A home you can fill with family, friends and memories. The security it offers can eventually provide a legacy for your loved ones. This has a value beyond money. Receiving your keys is one of the most exciting feelings you ever get.

We understand the complexities of this process and want to better help and support our customers as they go about this life-changing and exciting process.

The Creative Challenge

We are looking for ideas that inspire and support our customers when buying their first home. 

This is a deliberately very open brief and we’re not after a traditional advertising campaign in response. 

We are after ideas – big or small – that make your life better when buying your first home; ideas for products such as mortgages, ideas for services and ideas for customer experiences — either digital or physical. 

We don’t expect you to develop entire new Mortgage products, but try to help us think of ways that we can make the service we offer more customer centric, more technology focused and understanding of the modern world.

You are free to demonstrate how you think we should be engaging with our target audience in any way you see fit; whether that’s in person, through applications, events, films or any other format or channel conceivable. You might stick with one medium or combine different media.

We want you to think about the places and moments the target audience will be receptive to engage with your thinking.

Creative Considerations

Put the customer at the heart of your thinking. Understand their mindset throughout the process; before, during and after.

Think about: 

The hurdles and pressures they face 

The need for speed & security

How they manage payments

The competition from other buyers

The actual moving process

Making a house a home 

Also think about the potential opportunities that present themselves, such as the new technology we could deploy or the potential partners we could collaborate with to better serve our customers at this time. 

If the ideas work, our customers will be willing to advocate the service to their friends and families. The world has changed a lot recently. We want to harness those opportunities to help our customers change their lives for the better. 

We connect with customers currently in all kinds of channels for example: products, services; digital platforms such as internet banking, mobile, apps, customer emails and social media; branches, call centre, through partnerships, within our marketing and via word of mouth.

Target Audience

First Time Buyers.

In your research you should speak to people who have just gone through the process. What was good? What was bad? Where did they most worry or need more help? What would they do if they were thinking about this brief? What were the common themes?

Additional Information

The Market

Mortgages are heavily regulated as the risks to the lender and borrower are significant. The sector is traditionally conservative and we offer industry leading rates and strong security - but seek to compound that with customer innovation that can help differentiate us and elevate us from the competition.

Good examples

We have had great success with the First Direct Offset Mortgage which allows customers to make the interest on their savings pay off their mortgage more efficiently. We also have the ability to approve mortgages in a day which gives buyers great advantage in the buying process. 

Disruptive Companies

In other worlds, we have recently delivered the Apple Pay service through mobile banking which demonstrates a great Brand and technology partnership in action to the customer benefit.

We are particularly impressed with the simple technology platforms from companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Citymapper, Tepilo and Zoopla and how they have genuinely shaken up the traditional markets of transportation, accommodation and property. They have essentially taken existing products/services/data and repackaged and rebuilt the service entirely around the customer.

Creative Considerations

The ideas you share should be customer centric and supportive of real life customer ambitions.

Any Partnership ideas should appreciate HSBC’s branding and personality. We tend to avoid celebrity endorsements and companies that do not share our values.

Market sensitivity is crucial – the company and wider industry has faced plenty of criticism this year. It is important that your ideas are sensitive to the market landscape and provide a genuine customer benefit and not a sensationalist short term campaign. As much a ‘sensitivity,’ it is also an opportunity to restore the reputation of our Brand and industry.

When demonstrating your ideas, the Branding should be simple and in line with the visual examples shared in the accompanying Project Pack at the YCN website. We use strong human imagery and simple, iconic branding where appropriate.

Brand Personality 

Our brand personality should colour the experience our customers have when they encounter us. Our brand personality has to be consistent in the many places we are visible: 

We are human and warm, never cold. 

We are assertive and confident, but never brash or aggressive. 

We are intelligent and thoughtful. Without being presumptuous, patronising or arrogant. 

We engage with wit and warmth. Our aim to instill confidence and promote honest conversation.

Deliverables & Additional Information

Please adhere to the Deliverables outlined in the Student Awards section of the YCN website. Any supporting information referenced in the brief can be found in the accompanying Project Pack at the YCN website.