Rebranding NBO

How NBO went about its very successful rebranding exercise

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When NBO took a decision towards the end of 2006 to go in for rebranding, we were not looking at just cosmetic changes. We wanted to clearly indicate that we are putting the past behind and moving forward.

From our signage to the way we deal with customers, from our interiors to the back-end processes, from the services being offered to the products, everything was to be changed so that any customer who entered the branch would instantly feel the difference.

As for why NBO decided on a rebranding exercise, the bank went through some difficult times in 2002-2003 despite which the bank has always been looked upon as a strong bank that could be trusted.

By 2004, we had new shareholders and in July 2005, NBO and Commercial Bank of Qatar concluded a strategic alliance agreement. The bank was moving forward. The bank wanted to evolve further, to keep with the changing times and meet growing customer expectations and project itself as a progressive entity. The general perception that there would be internal changes without any constructive improvements needed to be addressed.

Also, the old NBO logo was that of a globe that did not reflect the local nature of NBO. Our main focus has always been Oman and we wanted to clearly project the image of a locally focused bank. The idea was to have a logo that reflects Omani history and culture.

Allen International, a UK-based consultant, was appointed for the task by the end of 2006. Several brainstorming sessions followed and they came up with different alternatives. We must have looked at a hundred options before deciding on the logo. At one point there was even discussion on whether the bank's name itself should be changed. National Bank, Bank of Oman - several names were discussed.

But everyone felt that our name National Bank of Oman should remain and that we should rebrand ourselves around this because it is a strong brand name having received the blessing of His Majesty on February 23, 1973.

Our new logo incorporates the trilogy of the country's national colours presented in the shape of a flag as it gently unfurls in the breeze. It encapsulates the bold vision that we are laying out for the bank. More than just a change in identity, it signifies a new commitment and a new promise to our customers. Our new logo reflects the youth, vitality and forward-looking optimism of the Omani people.

Further inspiration is derived from the billowing sails of the trading ships that contributed to Oman's rich culture and heritage. Concurrently the bank was working on a special project called 'Lean'. Our back-end processes were being revamped and there was a renewed thrust on efficiency in servicing customers.

The Project Lean team visited every branch, watching the processes end-to-end, identifying bottlenecks and coming up with solutions. In addition, our staff went through several training sessions. Quality assurance and control, a new division, was set up to look into customer care in terms of service and ways to improve it.

We conducted surveys internally to identify the areas where we needed to improve. Upon unveiling the new logo our signage at all the 60 branches across the country was changed in less than 24 hours. A dedicated team ensured timely removal of the old logo from all our branches across Oman.

As soon as our logo was unveiled, we had our new website, our new stationery and new posters in place. It was a very coordinated move. A pre-launch briefing to all staff ensured that they were fully aware of the impending rebranding process and thereby were fully equipped to be our brand ambassadors.

We were concerned that the logo would be made public even before we launched it. We ensured very strict rules with printers and signage vendors. We kept visiting their workshops to ensure that they maintained strict confidentiality. Even with staff, they were shown the logo but told to adhere to confidentiality.

Our entire rebranding exercise has culminated in a new experience for our customers who are now savouring the benefits thereof in terms of improved state-of-the-art ambience and services at our branches. The positive customer feedback such as letters of appreciation, increase in customers etc, is a testimony to the success of our rebranding exercise. Sultan is general manager and Shaban assistant general manager at NBO.

Rebranding NBO
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