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29 октября 2014

New Life

There are a lot of reasons, which induce credit organizations to resort to the rebranding procedure. Since 2015 TCS Bank will be renamed into Tinkoff Bank, whereas the current name reflects only a part of the credit organization’s functional. For Ellips Bank rebranding is not so much a wish as a need to escape from memories about rehabilitation. There are different motives guiding banks at the beginning of rebranding, but does everybody embed identical essence in this notion? Whom is creation of the banks’ new name and brand trusted to? 

Experts are at one at thinking that rebranding is a complex multistage process, which is not simply limited by name change and renewal of the company’s style. According to specialists, this process touches upon all aspects of the company’s activity: from the list of rendered services to color solutions at decoration of premises.

According to Vice-President of International Bank of St. Petersburg Ivan Bailyuk taking part in projects on rebranding of St. Petersburg Promstroybank and TransCreditBank, the question is about essential changes: the bank’s mission is revaluated, its network architecture is changed, business specialization is also often changed. "As a consequence, a new essence is endued into a new form. You should not mix rebranding with restyling. Insignificant logo changes or introduction of an additional color into the company’s palette cannot be called rebranding," believes the expert.

"Rebranding is not near a change of the name and signboards and not just changes in identity and company style. First of all, it is a change in business philosophy, a self-search, self-conception and self-determination. In our opinion, the final objective of rebranding is to
create a brand, which would occupy a place in the life of our customers and change their idea on what a bank is," affirms first vice-chairman of the board of Bank Orange (till April 2014 – PromServiceBank) Valentina Galitskaya.

Brandologists warn that beginning of reformations without defining of their final objectives just following a modern trend can lead to no positive outcome at colossal losses. According to bank experts, the minimum amount needed for rebranding comprises one hundred thousand dollars, the maximum one – one million dollars. However, there are methods to secure oneself from unsuccessful rebranding.

Head of the Marketing communications department of VTB24 Alexandr Rukavishnikov enumerates: "Firstly, it is necessary to set real goals. Rebranding is not a remedy from all problems. Secondly, the company must be ready for rebranding from inside, whereas a new logo on the signboard without changes in products, processes and technologies will more likely give a reverse effect – frustrated expectations. Thirdly, rebranding is not prepared during one month. Experience suggests that the entire process – from allocation of the task to the beginning of implementation takes at least one year. Implementation itself also takes several months and sometimes several years."

"It should be clearly defined what for you do it, what message you want to bring to your existing and potential customers, – shares his ideas on practicality of rebranding marketing director of Bank24.ru Denis Okhrimovich. – Besides, the bank must change from inside. I believe it is a huge mistake when rebranding is launched without thinking about what should be changed and for what it should be done, without speaking with customers about what for they like the bank, what they do not like in its operation, what expectations they have from further cooperation with the bank."

Today creation of brands is a rather tangible and widespread service rendered by branding agencies. Director of the Marketing and strategy department of MTS-Bank Stanislav Betin recalls events of 2012, when the Moscow Bank of Reconstruction and Development took the decision on rebranding. "In 2012 the bank launched the rebranding procedure, the first stage of which was renaming, previously the bank was named MBRD. It simultaneously started to work out a new business development strategy, which implied active partnership with a retail network of MTS mobile operator, which brand formed the basis for the company name. Due to joint efforts of experts from MTS-Bank and designers of famous JosDeVries Dutch bureau specializing in projects for retail networks, an absolutely new concept of bank points of sale was created," says the specialist. Giving general recommendations on selection of a partner for rebranding the expert notes: "It is important to find a company able to look at the bank’s business with the customer’s eyes. The required reformations must be described and conceptualized from this perspective with changes of products and technologies. Therefore, design agencies, which can only offer to change the logo, will evidently not be able to cope with this task. At the same time, brand building experts with a powerful analytical support, ability to hold researches and to evaluate the state before and after rebranding can really help."

PR Vice-President of the Bank of Settlements and Savings Anna Karimova believes that selection of an agency for cooperation depends on rebranding scales. "If the question is about rebranding of a network bank in all directions (change of the name, company style, positioning), it is more efficient to select by the full service principle (to be honest, in this case there is a risk to face insufficient professionalism of the contractor in any line of activity). Besides, the time factor is also by no means unimportant – if there is no task "to do everything yesterday", you can allow to select the best contractors".

Over the last decade such major companies as Aeroflot, AvtoVAZ, Russian Railways, MTS, S7 implemented full-scale rebranding projects in Russia. National banks occupy a special place among organizations bent on rebranding. Today it is hard to recognize the ancestor of VTB group in Soviet Vneshtorgbank, and the RF Sberbank drastically differs from itself five years ago both by the styling and the quality of rendered services. At taking of rebranding decisions the above credit organizations were led by rather sound reasons – they wanted to change their image of some clumsy state monsters. How strong are the motives pushing other Russian banks to rebranding?

"Rebranding in the banking sphere is generally connected with processes of mergers, takeovers or repositioning, – notes Ivan Bailyuk (International Bank of St. Petersburg). – In current, not most favorable conditions there processes are suspended. The last pre-crisis rebrandings were connected with integration, a bright example is Life and Otkrytie financial groups. Rebranding is repositioning at the edge of restyling: LOCO-Bank, Bank Orange," reminds the expert.

Valentina Galitskaya (Bank Orange) believes that the rebranding decision must be taken irrespective of economic or political problems currently faced by the country. "This is a clear position of the company, which takes into consideration existing realias in the market and in the consumer’s consciousness. For example, in our case, we understood that neither the former name nor the business model corresponded to our mental outlook and life philosophy. In due time PromServiceBank clearly reflected the essence of its business – servicing of industrial enterprises. We wanted to make something new, to create a customized business, to speak one language with the customer and to understand his/her needs and way of life," explains the specialist.

Anna Karimova (Bank of Settlements and Savings) reminds that in some cases rebranding is necessary, so that the customers could loose associations with former bank owners, and a tail of history did not follow the credit organization itself. As it is easy to guess, banks have different histories, and not everything should be carefully kept in memory.  

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