India’s biggest bank intends to showcase its heritage in a new light.

If you are a State Bank of India customer in a historic Indian city, chances are you that you will soon see iconic branches, many of them heritage buildings, decked up in an array of lights.

This is part of the banking behemoth’s attempt to win public attention and build on its brand image. And it coincides with the first anniversary of SBI’s merger with its associate banks.

Merger helps

While SBI itself has several buildings going back to the colonial era, the lender’s merger with its associate banks last year led to the discovery of a wealth of heritage buildings. The associate banks, which were patronised by the princely kingdoms of Hyderabad, Patiala, Bikaner and Jaipur, Mysore, and Travancore were headquartered in impressive historic structures.

So, in 25 cities across the country, SBI’s landmark offices will be spruced up and lit,

“As part of this initiative, we have completed illumination of about 10 branches across locations. Work is on on the remaining branches,” J Swaminathan, Chief General Manager, SBI, Hyderabad Circle told BusinessLine .

The offices being showcased include the SBI building in Gunfoundry, Hyderabad, the main branches at Kochi, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bharuch, Rajkot, Lucknow and Mumbai. The offices at Chennai IFB, Chandini Chowk, New Delhi, Gwalior, Behrampur, Amritsar, Kolkata, Varanasi and Allahabad, among others, are also on the list.

Reconnecting

The bank sees the illumination project as a way to strike a bond with local residents who have been loyal customers.

“We are attached to State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH) main branch in Gunfoundry in the historic building. With the illumination, the change of name from SBH to SBI is quite discernible. The merger also enriched the heritage assets of SBI in different locations such as Hyderabad,” says an old-time customer.

Rich history

SBI, whose origins trace back to the establishment of the Bank of Calcutta in 1806, has inherited large heritage properties in its long and rich history.

In 1809, the Bank of Calcutta received its charter and was re-designated the Bank of Bengal. It was the first joint-stock bank of British India, and was sponsored by the government of Bengal. The Bank of Bombay (1840) and the Bank of Madras (1843) soon followed.

These three banks remained at the apex of modern banking in India till their amalgamation as the Imperial Bank of India in 1921 before becoming State Bank of India in 1955.

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