PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Two years ago, State Bank of India went for an image makeover. Built on boilerplate B-school fiction that “a whole new generation” is growing up unaware of product X or company Y, India’s biggest public sector bank used the findings from a spurious FM radio survey to spend millions of rupees on imbecilic print advertisements and TV commercials.
“Which bank has more customers than the population of Australia?” “Surprisingly SBI“.
The campaign by Ogilvy & Mather was slammed left, right and centre by customers, who found it wasteful and insulting that young Indians had to be told that SBI isn’t just your dad’s bank. Commentators like Sucheta Dalal weighed in.
“It is difficult to believe that India’s educated, upwardly-mobile youth is so ignorant. It is however possible that this target group cares less about numerical supremacy than quality of service. And there, SBI indeed has a long way to go before catching up with its private sector rivals.”
Two years down the line, there is no trace of the SBI campaign, nor any sign that youngsters have shifted to it in hordes, nor any evidence that yuppies and puppies have learnt all about its ATMs, internet banking facilities and such like. But clearly public sector banks have learnt little from its cosmetic surgery.
Canara Bank, the 102-year-old bank headquartered in Mangalore, unveiled a new logo in the presence of the Union finance minister P. Chidambaram in the last week of December. In place of the flower and petals came a set of two interlinked triangles to make it more attractive to Generation X.
Like all new designs, every stroke and curve has to be explained, as it is on the bank’s website.
“The new brand identity for Canara Bank is based on the idea of a bond and is a representation of the close ties between the Bank and its many stakeholders–from customers and employees to investors, institutions and society at large…
“The colour palette and typography have been carefully chosen. The rich blue represents stability, scale and depth. This contrasts with accents of bright yellow that evoke optimism, warmth and energy. The Canara Bank logotype has been hand-crafted. Its classic, serif letterforms communicate heritage and stature.”
But neither the logo nor the explanation have done little to convince customers, as evidenced by these letters to the editor of Deccan Herald.
For one hundred years Canara Bank known for its humble and quick service to the common man, has gone hi-tech by wasting public money to change its logo. Unless this act was to benefit somebody, there was no need to change the earlier beautiful logo. If this money which is wasted on logo change is pumped in to recruit fresh staff, the service will be remarkable as in good old days.
K. N. KINI, Bangalore
The Canara Bank has changed its logo, gone in for new boards, stationary papers, application forms and vast changes in ATMs. It must have cost a huge packet and apparently some big guys have reaped the benefit. However the number of staff remain the same or are reduced due to transfers or retirement. Their age profile is increasing. Naturally, with reduced staff the customer service suffers. But who cares for customers?
Chidambaram who had attended the bash in Bangalore last week for this logo change should have chided the chairman of the bank for this wasteful expenditure and should have advised him to pass on this surplus amount to recruit new staff and increase the interest rates on deposits.
Obviously, a bank has to make business decisions it feels necessary. Obviously, it has to change its spots to appear younger, hipper to attract new customers. Obviously, it cannot be stuck in the past. Obviously, not all decisions can be exercises in democracy, taken with the OK of all the customers.
But do we pounce on public sector companies and undertakings with far greater ferocity than we reserve for their private sector counterparts? Merely because of the word “public”, do we believe we have a bounden right to decry or derail any move it may make, even if it is in the right direction?
And frankly, do we resist change, for the sake of resisting change? Is the money set aside for an image transformation enough to increase deposit rates or recruit more staff?
One more letter in Deccan Herald:
“I fail to understand why there should be any objection to the Canara Bank changing its logo. The bank’s leadership has done well to move with the times and have created a beautiful logo. It is part of the changes that should happen in any company and the chairman should in fact be congratulated for his innovative spirit. The charge of wasteful expenditure is ridiculous. What has customer service to do with a change of logo?
B.G. SRINIVASA RAO, Bangalore
Does a public sector bank have to justify every rupee it spends to the public, even when it is no business of the public? Can a bank afford to be penny wise at the risk of being pound foolish later if not sooner?
On the other hand, can Indian Airlines become Indian, and Indian become Air-India, all in the space of a couple of years without anybody asking questions?
in related news…Canara bank was one of the leading recruiters from the much vaunted Indian ‘B- Schools’
I am glad Churumuri carried this piece. I am a great fan of the bank’s branding campaign. The hoardings that have come up are extremely creative. The bank’s headquarters opposite the bangalore city town hall is bathed in neon blue light every evening. In the Bangalore rush hour it’s quite a visual treat actually.
As someone who is actually a customer of Canara Bank, I can frankly say that their service is better than most other public sector banks. I have had the (unfortunate) occasion to use the services of certain unnamed public sector bank and almost tore my hair out from frustration at the poor service and terrible inefficiency.
Now that Canara Bank is positioning itself to attract more of the youth to its services, I hope that this will also spur them on to improve their services to be the best in the India, and not just among the public sector banks.
No issues with the rebranding… but two triangles is just too boring. Good campaign, but not as innovative as say, the Axis Bank (same but different name) or even the SBI campaign of a couple of years ago.
What ever the logo change and all that Canara bank is going through, the fact remains that it is one of the worst in customer service.
The elder generation is still these in its staff level who still believes banks are doing great favor to the customers than vise versa.
SBI gone hell of a change in its internal set up where customers interact with the banking officials in the branch premises. For that see change i must congratulate them. corporation bank is also one of set ups which gone for change in the way they deal with day today customers and well behaved.
But Canara bank still hampered by old mentality of their lower level employees who interact with general public. Why don’t Govt offer VRS again and recruit new generation who are willing to help with lot of zeal.
its a good move… logo looks good… even the media ads are brilliant
On my experience canara bank is lot more better than indian bank, BOI and even ICICI. Hope they improve thier efficiency also.
Its another Govt owned entity with SLACK customer service. In what ways does this change in Logo helps the customer? Does this achieve any goal or is it another wasteful exercise?
Canara bank service may have its downsides (and looks like a lot has to do with how the individual managers at a branch runs things), but I certainly find dealing with them much better than dealing with ‘MNC’ banks, who just seem to be out to cheat me instead of sticking to basic banking.
I am amused. Thanks Churumuri.
I read this post in Massachusetts ( where else) and that is why this amusement. Not just me but also other passengers at airport who happened to peep into my laptop displaying canara bank logo interpreted that new logo as a cute gay symbol.
Oh my gosh . Is Canara bank trying to attract Gays( Blue triangle ) and Lesbians ( Yellow Triangle)?
good one narayana…if what you say about colour combos are true…then one wonders if O&M has not known about it or chosen to ride on Indians ‘ignorance’ on what these colours stand for ..
SBI sucks, so does Canara Bank. If SBI has more customers than Aussie population it is because a lot of them in rural areas do not have many options. A logo change is not going to change the way Canara Bank will treat its customers.
This is response to the gay comment on the logo…
Actually, lavender has been a color associated with gays or effeminate men since the early 1900’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavender_(color)
Also the black triangle with lesbians and a pink tringle with gays
Blue is the colour of our cricket team’s uniform and the Hindus wear the colour yellow to celebrate the Festival of Spring.
Each colour signifies something different in every country and if you ask someone why they like a particular colour…they would give many reasons. As each colour signifies something unique to everyone. In a country where guys ride a pink Scooty or a pink Honda Activa without any hesitation…I guess colour does not mean so much to a common man.
I like the Canara Bank new logo. The colours signify youth to me and I have always had a pleasant experience at Canara Bank.
Banking is not a business where you need bright lights and great hoardings with smiling models to attract customers. Banking is best when one feels the service, transparency, et al. And not by their ads. ICICI too rebranded and has had high spend ads. But service??? UTI Bank became AXIS as they felt the acceptance abroad would be poor if they go with the name UTI.
Banking in today’s world is entirely dependent on TECHNOLOGY! Canara has moved to a cumbersome technology from a widely accepted technology which even their employees (several tens of thousands) were very well conversant with. Now extra training costs???
Coming from a banking background, my analysis is – THE BANK HAS WASTED SEVERAL CRORES. A bank that is more than 100 years old need not have to re-brand. GROWING TO SERVE & SERVING TO GROW (though lengthy) has a meaning vis-à-vis TOGETHER WE CAN.
Some other avenues where this money could have been of better use –
• train the employees on HR, customer handling, acquire new skills (banking is vast)
• set up world class training centres for Bankers (yes, Banks score over others here)
• do up the interiors of the branch and give a better feeling to the employees and the customers.
The most IMPORTANT aspect in a Bank’s growth is its leadership. Canara has had very good CMDs in the past and till recently. Unfortunately the incumbent CMD is from a very ordinary bank, viz., Indian Bank, a bank that was saddled with bad loans (being close to the Finance Minister helps). And in the post 2010 era, leadership assumes all the more importance as many big banks from all over the world will be welcome. The bank should have waited for a little while, invested in house keeping, enhancing the skills of employees, technology, readied itself to expand overseas and then decided on the branding.
Well Said Reanna,
When color did not matter to common man , why did they change my favorite logo?
‘Not just me but also other passengers at airport who happened to peep into my laptop displaying canara bank logo interpreted that new logo as a cute gay symbol.’
How did you get into this discussion: ‘Hey look strangers, this new abstract logo of a bank in my country, its so gay?’
Or did they just butt in and say, ‘Look folks this Indian guy is looking at a gay symbol’?
Who got this great idea? How much does it cost to the Bank? Will the concerned authorities in the Canara Bank come out with actual figures/ What purpose will it serve? What is the role of the Finance Minister/finanace mnistry? When the truth comes out everyone will be shocked and surprised? Is it to favour some advertising company? Who will pay for the changes in logo in the already printed letter heads……..All are Chidambara rahasya…
Well said Arun. Not only banking.. you have understood the business. The golden rule is never antogonize your existing customers. Why did this bank change the cute flower logo. So many Indians immediately identify this with the bank. So is the Dog logo of Syndicate Bank. These have been there for century and Bank should have done soul searching somewhere else. Blaming the logo on its poor reach with youngsters is an insult to its existing customers. That is why existing customers who are pissed off see new logo offensive.
Did the old logo have “Canara Bank” in Kannada lettering? The new one doesn’t either. Tells us how independent minded our Karavali folks are. If they need Kannada, they will use it. If not, they don’t.
Kannadigas should learn to think in a similar way about Hindi and English. Use them to our advantage.
A Union minister’s son got a huge commission in the Canara bank’s new branding deal. Bank is spending Rs.780 crore on it.
@ Biz Journo…if u r true to ur profession , u should tell who it is …all of India knows it
You are right. Entire India knows it. He is from Tamil Nadu.
A Biz J….you are almost there. But the 780 cr is not for the branding campaign if I am right, but a loan for a ‘project’.
One of the previous CMD’s of Indian Bank, Gopalakrishnan was involved in a scam of Rs.1800 crs some 12 years back. Immediately after retirement, he joined Tamil Manila Congress, then headed by Moopanar and Chidambaram. Hope Canara Bank does not become a bank like Indian Bank.
An efficient VP Shetty was moved to IDBI months after taking over at Canara some two and half years back.
Kuch to logo kahenge. Logon ka kaam hai kehna…
The latest advertisements of Canara Bank is real downer for Kannadigas as such. I am not parochialistic, but as a Bank that was founded in Karnataka, they should have taken proper care to get the pronunciations right as well as reflect sentiments of locals and be proud of its roots. After all it is only us Kannadigas who go to the extent of learning other Languages so that others can be comfortable in communicating with us.
The ad too indicates that spirit as Sudha Belvadi goes to the extent of learning Hindi/ Punjabi so that her Daughter in Law Jaspreet could be comfortable in her family.
Sudha Belvadi mouths most of the dialogues in the ad . Here are a few of her lines.
“Woh Soni Gudi hai” while the actual pronunciation should I have been “Who Soni Kudi hai”.
“Mujhse Saari Kalthi Hogayi hai” it should have been “Mujhse Saari Galthi Hogayi hai”
I really wonder what the Ad Agency had in mind. A Tamilian Family? Nopes, Sudha’s Dress or as a matter of fact her Hubby’s dress in the ad doesn’t indicate so. If it wasn’t a Tamilian Family then why a pronunciation that is similar to Tamil?
Did not anyone in the Bank notice this glaring error? Or did their “Swalpa Adjust madkolli” attitude get the better of them?
how much did the designer get paidd for doing the logo design ??
Well, a gentleman wrote why did not Chidambaram get angry with Canara Bank for wasting public money for changing logo….. instead of attending function announcing new logo…. answer to the question… Chidambaram’s son got contract of 800 crores to bring about change in logo… publicity… need anything more be said?
When so much is exposed, what is the action taken?