#Transformers: Bank invests in hope for brand transformation [video]
by Charlie Mathews (@CharlesLeeZA) Financial services brands struggle to corner the market on consumer trust or to maintain any real, lasting consumer relevance because of service issues and the lingering effect of the global banking crisis. This is why Thulani Sibeko, Standard Bank chief marketing officer, has a challenging task. Sibeko heads a team that’s transformed the consumer bank’s brand positioning from “Moving forward” to “It can be”.
“Transformers Transform 2020” is a special series produced by MarkLives and HumanInsight and sponsored by the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), running Jun–Sep 2020. Together with Lebogang Tshetlo, we’ll be profiling remarkable local #Transformers every other Friday until September, featuring Tshetlo’s photography. The objective of this an independently managed, journalism-driven research project is to explore and map new paths for brands and marketers to transform, adapt and build resilience while the world adapts to covid-19 and its resultant social, political and economic toll.
In this video interview*, Sibeko talks about:
- Insights that drove the brand transformation
- Standard Bank’s role on the continent as an African brand
- How employee innovations fuel trust and brand loyalty
- How experience is what really sets banking brands apart
Global brands such as Nike and Adidas have clearly won hearts and minds in Africa, as have Samsung, Apple, MTN, LG and Vodafone, because technology is the big enabler. This means that banks such as Standard Bank have to work incredibly hard to win customer favour.
“Centre of the discussion”
“People and businesses are looking for a brand to believe in them, inspire them, and journey with them,” Sibeko says. “They want a bank that can help them realise their ambitions — personally or as businesses and which always puts them at the centre of the discussion.”
What bodes well for the bank is that the effort is less superficial positioning and more a foundational change. The brand work comes off the back of internal dialogue, research and innovating Standard Bank’s relationship with its employees and customers — the real focus of true transformation.
After the economic crisis that followed the novel coronavirus lockdown, Standard Bank offered customers an instalment holiday and joined efforts to bring relief to small businesses, and enable easier access to enable online trade. Internally, Sibeko says the bank invested in technology to ensure connectivity for staff and enabled better working conditions for employees with children who needed to work and parent.
The big transformation has been internal. In March 2019, digitisation and a branch scale-down saw the bank move to retrench well over 1 000 staff members. Today, the bank enjoys increasing favour with employees. “As recently as two weeks ago, we conducted a survey asking our people how they’ve experienced their own organisation in the time of covid,” he says. “I’m pleased to say that a huge majority of our people played back very positive sentiments, affirming that the wellness of our employees was not just lip-service.”
- #Transformers Transform 2020 • Sponsored by the ACA
- #Transformers video interviews on transformation on YouTube
- #Transformers video interviews on transformations on Facebook
- Download the #TransformersTransform2020 pdf
- Forrester: The Future Of Financial Brands: Less Financial, More Brand
- The Banker: Standard Bank Group CEO on a post-crisis Africa
*Note: This interview has been edited for publication to focus on brand transformation only; content not relevant to this subject has been cut.
As an entrepreneur, Charlie Mathews (@CharlesLeeZA) has worked in growth teams with Naspers, Microsoft, and Tutuka.com (the global prepaid card company). Mathews has also successfully founded and exited two marketing companies. Published in Rolling Stone magazine, Guardian UK, and SA’s Greatest Entrepreneurs, edited by Moky Makura, Mathews wrote for Daily Maverick during the title’s legendary startup era. Today, Mathews is the founder and CEO of HumanInsight, a research, insights and learning company that helps brands better understand, and serve — humans.