The making of a global banking brand
Taking a business from the level of a company to a recognisable brand is always the desire of most business owners. However, experiences over the years have shown that starting a business is easier than building a brand. That is why it is easy to list many companies while statistics of successful brands are minimal. This notwithstanding, a recognisable and loved brand is one of the most valuable assets a company owns.
According to Nielson’s Global New Product Innovation Survey, 59 percent of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them. As a small business, the survey established that one may be competing against big brands with devoted customers. That’s why brand owners always find ways to differentiate–with a solid brand building process of their own.
Like few Nigerian brands that have become household names in the market, Access Bank entered the market humbly about 26 years ago but with the ambition of becoming a solid brand that would command respect in many sectors. From day one, its handlers were able to know early enough that branding was much more than just a cool logo or well-placed advertisement.
Promoters of the Access Brand followed a simple rule of branding; they started small with their branding and didn’t forget to focus on their target niche and audience first. They also craft a clear expression of what their company was most passionate about. Within a short time, the bank turned to a major player in the banking sector focusing on four business segments: Personal, Business, Commercial and Corporate & Investment banking.
Few weeks ago, the innovation and creative ingenuity of its handlers paid off as it was named ‘Bank of the Year’ at the 17th annual Bank of the Year awards black-tie dinner in London. To analysts, the feat was not by accident, considering various positioning tools deplored by the bank’s promoters in the last 10 years.
The award, which validates other nine international honors earned by the Bank over the past ten months for operational excellence, responsible business practices and innovation, is unarguably one of the most coveted awards in the banking sector globally.
Presenting the award, Michael Buerk, BBC News journalist, commented: “In spite of the challenging operating environment and rapid changes in the industry, Access Bank has remained a formidable institution. Specifically, the Bank has been a purveyor of innovation in the Nigerian banking space and consistently outperformed industry forecast. It is firmly believed that its operational model, risk management and governance framework, which enable sustained superlative financial performance need commendation”.
Although this view is consistent with analysts’ opinion on the Bank in the past one year, but its Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe who received the award for the Bank said, “While innovation, excellent risk and corporate governance framework might be the advantage we have over our competitors, the Bank is propelled by a vision of becoming the world’s most respected African Bank, and this requires us to do things differently to standout. He thanked the bank’s stakeholders for their support and assured them of improved performance in the years ahead”.
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