3 Branding Challenges That Nepalese Banks Fail to Notice
The banking industry of Nepal is characterized by cut throat competition with several institutions operating in close proximity and offering identical products & services to the consumers. There are a total of 128 Banking & Financial Institutions (BFIs), which includes 27 commercial banks, 17 development banks, 17 finance companies and 67 microfinance institutions. With homogenous product offerings in the market, banks face a need to conduct branding exercises in a manner that makes them stand out in the eyes of customers.
Sad to say, banks in Nepal are known to engage in mediocre branding practices which do not effectively distinguish their services from competitors’. Albeit rigorous expenditure on marketing activities such as print adverts and TVC’s are evident in the market, the emphasis on unique value proposition to customers is seemingly devoid. Consequently, customers are unable to build their preference based on brand image. Some of the key factors concerning the aforementioned cause are as follows:
Homogenous Brand Image
Truth be told, Nepalese customers are unable to distinguish between the brand image of banks, despite operating in a highly competitive industry. Customer perception of banks is limited to “an institution where people simply deposit their money for interest and take loan with interest”. Although there are banks such as NIC Asia which have conducted unorthodox branding practices such as temple branding and balloon branding, the tendency to opt for profusely descriptive ads fails to connect with the audience on a profound level.
While the recent TVC ad by Sunrise Bank clearly informs the audience about the general functions of the bank, it clearly fails to communicate the brand message. This conveys a message that the bank is purely aiming to establish a business relationship with its customers and disregards brand communication on an emotional and psychological level. As such, viewers are unable to distinguish between banks as all of them offer identical services.
The TVC ad of the renowned “Barclays Bank” serves as a prototype for pointing out the aspects that are absent in adverts of Nepalese banks like Sunrise. Through captivating futuristic animations, Barclays portrays itself as a different dimension (Moneyverse) which effectively controls the flow of money with simple gestures of the hand. The advert concludes with a tagline “Make Money Work for You”. By inculcating such themes, Barclays portrays itself as a brand which offers ultra-modern banking services and enhances its customers’ lives.
Choice of Ad Agencies
Large corporate houses like banks predominantly rely on advertisement agencies to conduct marketing exercises. The problem persists in the tendency of multiple banks to rely on the same advertisement agency. This is bound to result in competitive conflict as the same agency/team is deemed responsible for creation and execution of marketing ideas for competing banks. Beyond the name itself, chances are that banks will form identical brand images as a result. Thus, Nepalese banks should be wary of ad agencies’ portfolios prior to their selection in order to eliminate the threats posed by competitive conflict.
Customer experience of banks is signified by impressions created in the minds of customers as a result of interactions between them. Banks in Nepal need to move beyond the notion of ‘customer satisfaction’, to optimization of ‘customer experience’. Subsidiaries of several banks, to date, lack an all-encompassing customer service – unavailability of token system for customers, absence of adequate waiting lobby and lack of interpersonal skills among frontline workers, to name some. In addition, erratic disruptions in mobile and internet banking services further deteriorate the experience of customers. The aforementioned aspects are imperative in optimizing customer experience and ultimately increasing retention, and attraction of customers.