Over the past year, our team has been working with the inner circle of senior management at Al Baraka Bank to consolidate the largest number of Islamic banks in the world. The new bank unifies financial organisations across 12 markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
From our first meeting with Adnan Yousif, president and chief executive of the group, we agreed that a new brand will signal the continuing consolidation of the cultures, processes and products of the dozen different banks in the group.
The culture of the group management team is conciliatory, so the approach for consolidating the strategy of the group took on a highly consultative nature. Leaders from banks that had been operating successfully in markets for over thirty years needed to be brought into the vision development for the converged bank.
“The time and effort we spent listening, adapting and inching toward a shared vision paid off in spades when we needed to quickly implement the brand. Once agreement on strategy was reached across the twelve markets, we were able to implement at lightning speed” says Aaron Shields, partner.
One of the major dilemmas we tackled was bringing the 30 year old Islamic banking narrative up to date without diluting the original values that emanate from Islamic texts. Ethical and religious principles were what attracted staff and customers to the bank. Yet, no matter how much scholars argue over the details, all Islamic banks tend toward the same principles and therefore appear relatively undifferentiated to customers as a group. We needed to stand out from other Islamic banks, but being ‘more Islamic’ than other banks was not the solution.
‘Partnership’ was selected as the subject for the new narrative, both for its nod to participation-style values and for its forward-thinking notions. ‘Your Partner Bank’ resonated with both staff and customers. We found the new story to tell and management was eager to begin telling it.
In response, we created the launch campaigns and guided the production of all launch materials with local agencies. We continue to work with Al Baraka launching the brand in each of its twelve markets.
The new brand is being launched consecutively beginning with Bahrain, South Africa and Lebanon. Staff feel immense pride in the new brand and there has been a big increase in new dialogues with retail and commercial customers. In all, the brand has been a big success.
Thanks to the financial crisis, more conservative and more ethical banks like Islamic banks and cooperative banks are thriving. Al Baraka is taking advantage of this golden age by continuing to expand their presence in Asia and Europe.