C.J. Punnathara

Kochi, Dec. 25

IN the fiercely competitive world of the services industry, image building and brands are becoming increasingly imperative for banks.

"The days when banks wait for the customers to step in are over. We have to re-build our brands and images in order to attract and retain customers currently flooded with alternative choices. Technology and customer loyalty are two independent facets of the picture, but they have to be consistently reinforced with the right image and brand," Dr V.A. Joseph, Chairman of South Indian Bank, said.

Realising the emerging needs of the times, South Indian Bank has appointed 11 regional correspondents across all their regional offices, to interact with the media, handle public relations, build up the brand image of the bank, interact with government officials and other important people.

"Building a new corporate brand image is becoming mandatory for all the banks in the country. The lone public relations officer posted at the head office would not be able to live up to the new challenges and demands of the times," Dr Joseph said.

The world of banking had been transformed with the advent of the new generation private sector banks, with their high levels of automation, new and technology savvy products, high decibel brand building, and smart and swank branches.

These new banks also had the inherent advantage of starting with the right brand and image suited for the current times, a senior banker said.

To compete in this changing environment, several of the old-generation private and public sector banks have gone in for an image makeover.

A large number of banks have re-designed their logo and the colour and display style of their names. The makeover and transformation of two of the largest Indian banks, SBI and Bank of Baroda, have been quite visible, a senior banker said.

Smaller banks are also making major inroads. Small banks such as Lord Krishna Bank and Catholic Syrian Bank have also re-designed their logos and given a facelift to their names and hoardings.

"We were one of the first old-generation banks to re-launch logo three years ago. People want change and change for the better will always be welcomed by the public," Mr N.R. Achan, Chairman of Catholic Syrian Bank, said.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 26, 2005)
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