Interestingly, HSBC has not replaced its famous one-liner with a new tagline. Rather, the banking giant has subtly changed its messaging more generally to focus on the power of ‘possibility’. This reflects a strategy of concentrating on the world’s fast-growing economies. Are we entering a new paradigm where being – or being seen to be – local is more important than being global?
Born of a backlash
Many societies are witnessing a growing discontent with the perceived impacts of globalisation such that being seen as a global behemoth could be damaging to a retail bank’s prospects. So-called ‘millennials’, who are being empowered by the imminent generational shift in wealth, are distinctly unimpressed with ‘big business’ and are far more likely to entrust their money to smaller, peer-approved financial services providers.
Perhaps the very concept of a Western-rooted ‘global’ brand has become tainted with sluggish economic performance that fails to capture the spirit of excitement
and entrepreneurial growth in many developing economies. That’s even before you consider the negatives in many markets of overt foreign ownership. It is a brave executive who introduces a foreign-named retail bank into Russia or China, for instance.
Certainly, banking groups growing out of the Middle East and Asia are taking a different approach. The successful ones have retained local banking brands whilst using brand endorsement to capture synergies. Observe how Turkey’s DenizBank and Finansbank have retained their names despite being owned by Russia’s Sberbank or the Qatar National Bank respectively.
Just as global brands allowed their owners to take advantage of the best of both
(local and global) worlds, federated brands and networks may be the logical next step.
If done correctly, they can help a firm demonstrate how it is genuinely local while the group retains its broader capabilities and reach. Why risk diluting a local identity that has been built over decades with blood, sweat and tears, by applying global brand standards that blithely disregard local cultures or tastes? There is also a lower risk of brand contamination should something go wrong.