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American Express - Case Study Example

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American Express, which began 150 years ago as a company that forwarded freight and valuables, has grown to become one of the world's leading financial institutions. Today, they are a "global payments company", and their brand is closely associated with the popular American Express Card and the logo 'Don't Leave Home Without It' ("Our History")…
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Download file to see previous pages American Express is perceived as a premium brand product and the principles listed above are reflected in their credit card business. Though the service credit cards are directed at several different income and status levels, they have been able to maintain a mystique of exclusivity. The cards cover the range of the common inexpensive credit card to the 'cause marketed' Red Card which donates a share of the profits to fight AIDS. High income levels are targeted with the Black Centurian Card costing $2500 and made out of titanium. Their peripheral businesses, such as car rental and hotel reservations, have benefited from this brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Teamwork has allowed American Express to become a truly global company. They entered the international market at the beginning of the 20th century with the introduction of internationally accepted Traveler's Checks. Their cards are now recognized around the world. While much of American Express's success has come from their innovation in financing, they have also been able to cultivate and manage relationships based on their reputation. When the company went through organizational restructuring in the middle of the 1980s to confront the growing competition from Visa and Mastercard and the loss of merchant services, they turned to their core business and its principles. "Rebuilding relationships with merchants became a top priority, as did significantly increasing American Express Card acceptance across a wide range of industries and geographical markets" ("Our History"). Years later, the company's chief executive would say, in retrospect, "If not for the strength of our brand name, American Express would have collapsed by the late 1980s" ("Our History"). For American Express, it was not the product but their brand reputation that saved the company.
Today, many other products compliment the financial card segment. They have co-branded with Citi Bank and other financial institutions to offer bank issued credit cards. They offer a wide range of personal and business travel services that fit well with the financial card unit. They have become a one-stop-shop for the personal or business traveler. In addition they offer an array of business services from financing to taxes that once again are based on, and linked to, the business credit card unit. A business can arrange all their financing, financial planning, lines of credit, travel, lodging, and airlines, and have it all billed through the payment service unit. These services would not have been possible for American Express without the unique position and reputation of their financial card product.
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