Home FEATURED Opinion (23/12/18): Branding The Merged Biggest Bank In Africa, By Chido Nwakanma

Opinion (23/12/18): Branding The Merged Biggest Bank In Africa, By Chido Nwakanma

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Chido Nwakanma

My post on the reaction of Ndigbo to the scheme of arrangement of Access Bank and Diamond Bank unlocked some insights. Thanks to all those who enriched the discourse with their informed, rigorous and passionate contributions.
The merger of Diamond and Access banks should interest all of us. Before our very eyes, they are creating a bank that would be Africa’s biggest. Would it boost financial services, create a new banking model in Nigeria, play better in financial intermediation based on deeper pockets? Will it be an even bigger enabler for the growth and sustenance of SMEs and for the take-off of ICT and the larger STEM in our country?
The primary consumer insight is the deep resonance of the Diamond Bank brand with many of its customers. The appeal of the bank goes beyond customers to include an entire demographic as well as certain categories of business people.
There is strong and sustained stakeholding for this Plc in the financial services sector. Many of its stakeholders feel a sense of ownership and are frightened at the prospect of losing their bond with this institution.
There is strong equity to the Diamond Bank brand! In simple terms for the layman, strong equity means that Diamond Bank has a high value in the marketplace.
It is deep and lies in both the conscious and sub-conscious. It is social. Recognition is high as is affinity. Diamond Bank scores high on the two principal dimensions of brand awareness and brand image. Diamond Bank has goodwill, a deep well of it.
Did Diamond Bank put a valuation to the goodwill of their brand as they negotiated? In financial terms, their goodwill ought to attract no less than 10% of the value the entity has attracted.
Branding would be one of the significant issues the new entity will tackle in the months ahead. Already, their communication is beginning to bear the identities of both institutions placed side by side.
The brand identity of the merged entity should consider their strengths. While Access and Diamond Banks have in their statements emphasised that what happened is a merger, many consider it an acquisition. Such hair-splitting is not an issue. Making the combination work to its strength should be the focus.
What should they call the combination? We can look to examples elsewhere. The route to not thread would be one of swallowing one of the names entirely.
Possibilities include joining the two names as one or creating a new identity. There are many advantages and downsides. They can then creatively work on the logos and other elements of the manifestation.
The combination of Time Inc and Warner Bros initially led to Time Warner and eventually to Warner Media. Warner Media comprises HBO, Turner and WarnerBros who collectively lead in creating premium content, operate one of the world’s largest TV and film studios and own a vast library of entertainment.
When Cadbury merged with Schweppes Inc, the new entity became CadburySchweppes Inc. GlaxoSmithKline here emerged from the combination of Glaxo Welcome and SmithKline Beecham. They created a strong GSK brand.
Several mergers chose their initials as the identikit for their brands after a while. One of the most successful brand reinventions of all time is the creation of LG®. That outstanding brand is a remake in every sense of the word of a hitherto struggling and indistinct Korean brand, Lucky Goldstar. Lucky Goldstar was a laggard in the electronics sector. In Nigeria, people looked askance at persons who bought Lucky Goldstar. LG is today a market leader, with great products and a truly resonant brand.
We recommend from here and drawing on consumer response, the name AccessDiamond Bank for the combination. Or AccessDiamond International Bank Plc.
The bank is your access to diamonds literally.
There is also recognition of pecking order.
Seriously, it plays up the strengths of both brands, creates a link as well as continuity for an initial period. They could always toe the path of many of those who later changed identities entirely or took part of their identity for the whole. Enough said, for now, save to note that this merger should be the source of much research and insights across several disciplines beginning now.

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