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‘Going beyond brand promises’

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One of the country’s commercial banks, Standard Bank, recently announced to have changed its brand tag-line to It Can Be, with a new brand promise; New Ways to Make Dreams Possible. Our journalist, WILLIAM KUMWEMBE, caught up with Standard Bank Chief Executive Office, William le Roux, to find out what does the change mean to the bank’s business model.

Firstly, why change of the tag-line?

We see evidence that our continent is full of dreamers, it is full of believers and doers. If you look at the William Kamkwamba’s story, his windmill, his idea of how he would improve the lives of his family, and he is not the only one, there are people across the continent that are thinking every day and have dreams and aspirations of making their businesses better. All those people with all those good ideas need a bank or financial institution that is going to support them making those dreams possible. We are a bank that has the ability to do that. We have been able to do that for some time and we are constantly developing. And a brand promise should not just be a promise on paper; it should be about tangible things that we do for our customers so that we can help realise their dreams. And with standard bank, it can be.

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Was there anything lacking with ‘Moving Forward’?

Everything has a time and a season. If you look at 20 years ago, we were talking about simpler, better, faster. It was about providing a safe and reliable platform in our entire traditional banking environment; from there we progress to inspired, motivated and involved. We were getting closer to our customer to understand their businesses to a deeper level. From there, we went into moving forward which about progressing and trying to get the traditional business to a better level. And then, people have different needs, needs that we might not have thought of yet. We are saying to people, bring us your dreams and we will help making those dreams possible with Standard Bank it can be.

How has the market embraced it?

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We saw an absolutely overwhelming and fantastic response. The response that we have been getting from the social media is enormous. We know what we can do, we believe in what we can do. It is important for our customers to know what we can do for them and very important for the public at large to know that Standard Bank is the place where these things can be done.

How is the new tag-line inform business trajectory, any changes to business model?

First of all, Standard Bank is not changing its business model. The tag-line is informing our customers about our capabilities and what we can as well as what we are doing. What is really important is that now people understand that. We want people to be able to benefit from all the innovations we have introduced. We want them to help us to drive the next generation of innovations. This is not the end; it is not the line we are drawing under anything. It is the beginning of greater and more exciting developments as we go forward and as we develop new products and services.

Is it a coincidence that the new tag-line coincided the advent of Covid-19?

It is entirely coincidental that we are launching this time. If you think what the environment is like during this time, no of us know where it is going but we are all hopeful. We had to manage the traffic in the banking halls, and this is where our products and services really started coming to the customers’ home. So, it could be coincidental, but the time could not be any better.

Now, businesswise, how does the future look like?

As you know, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for all businesses and banks are not exception. All the banks have had a very difficult time. We have been very fortunate over the past years to build up resilience in our business to the extent that going into the period of Covid-19 we had a very strong balance sheet, we had a very strong capital position, we had extremely good non-performing loan statists which we have improved over the past number of year to the extent that when Covid-19 hit us, we were in an extremely resilient position. I think we will see a very healthy growth on the performance of 2019. So, 2020 should be a good year for us as well.

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