“We have to be many things for many people,” says Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) as she lays out the details of how the country’s largest bank is getting ready to put its best face forward at home and for the world. With a new look, fresh global positioning and a more aggressive approach towards service, SBI is hoping to put the brand above the bank’s association with bad loans and poor attitude.
Post the merger of five banks unto itself, SBI is now part of a hallowed club of global suits. With a balance sheet size of Rs 41 lakh crore, or roughly $635 billion, SBI will now rank at 45, rising seven rungs above its rank 52 in 2015 (Bloomberg). SBI has lost no time leveraging its new found position; on April 1, its first day as the newly merged behemoth, everyone was greeted with a personal welcome. “Congratulations. We are now among the top 50,” a beaming employee repeated as he handed over a box of laddoos.
In its new position, SBI will be taking on Chinese banks that have come to dominate the banking tables in the past few years and established American and European lenders. And that calls for a revamp of the way the bank presents itself at home and to a global audience. Even though SBI is one of the country’s oldest banks, it is a newbie on the international block and the brand has to strike the right balance. It must be young and flexible but keep the familiarity quotient intact for older loyal customers, ensuring that the brand does not split apart in the ensuing tug and pull.
An old look in a new logo
“We have a very loyal clientele that is older and we want to do everything possible for them. But we also have a younger clientele which is currently looking at us and liking what they are seeing. I would like to be very…