Practicum:“The Re-branding and Repositioning of the Republic Bank Group: The Case of Republic Bank DR S.A.”

Executive Summary

A brand is the sum of the customer's experiences with the products or company - how the customer thinks and feels about what the business does. The brand is transmitted in every interaction with the customer over the lifetime of the relationship and is therefore built from the customer's entire experience with the company, not just through the company's communicated identity. It therefore plays a critical role in building trust and loyalty.

According to the 4-D Branding model devised by Thomas Gad (refer Appendix 1) the brand operates at four different levels in the mind of the customer. These four levels include the functional (the perception of benefit of the product or service associated with the brand), the social (the ability to create identification with a group), the spiritual (the perception of global or local responsibility) and the mental (the ability to support the individual mentally). These four dimensions are derived from the customer's experiences at the brand touch-points and combine to form the customer's overall perception of the brand.

The challenges facing brands today however are numerous, and in financial services the challenges are even more acute because of the intangibility of the facilities being provided. In the case of banks that operate in diverse territories, the major challenge lies in the ability to balance global or regional brand integrity with local cultural authenticity. These brands must be viable on a global or regional scale, but remain relevant at the local level.

The Republic Bank Group faced this dilemma as it expanded its operations to embrace several Caribbean territories with different cultures, preferences, languages and modes of behaviour. The branding challenge in such an environment can become quite complex, with the level of complexity multiplying across subsidiaries and divisions of the bank, product lines, markets and even advertising agencies. Controlling brand identity in such an environment can be exigent.

The case of Banco Mercantil, Republic Bank's subsidiary in the Dominican Republic, however posed a different challenge. The viability of that brand was undermined by a combination of internal (mismanagement) and environmental (economic decline and near crash of the financial system) factors that led to the complete erosion of its brand equity in a relatively short space of time. The brand ceased to engender trust and confidence among its customers and while it still existed at the functional level from the point of view of providing banking services, it was devoid of credibility at the social, spiritual and mental levels.

Following qualitative research involving a population of 1200 households spanning the bank's three major market segments (mass, private and corporate/commercial), the bank faced the decision of rebuilding the existing brand; re-branding with a completely new identity or adopting the identity and brand of the new shareholder. Subsequent to SWOT and force field analyses being conducted, the decision was taken to re-brand Banco Mercantil by adopting the parent or heritage brand i.e. Republic Bank Limited through the introduction of the name Republic Bank DR S.A. and reposition the operations to focus primarily on the private banking and corporate and commercial market niches in the Dominican Republic.

The re-branding exercise spanned two geographic locations and several stakeholder groups, from employees to customers and regulators in the Dominican Republic, as well as the shareholder in Trinidad and Tobago. May 5, 2005 was a historic day in Republic Bank's history as it signalled the start of a re-branding process that should embrace the entire banking group. Such an exercise is critical at this time, as the Bank continues to broaden its footprint within the Caribbean, prepare itself for increased competition in the markets in which it currently operates, and positions itself to win the minds and hearts of regional customers.

Several considerations were apparent in the change of name of the Dominican subsidiary to Republic Bank DR, foremost among them being the cultural implications of adopting the new name and the values that were imbedded in the brand. While the values themselves were not alien to the Dominican society, there were some differences in their interpretation stemming from cultural and social indoctrination. The rigorous systems and procedures for example, which are inherent in the British banking system that Republic Bank inherited from its predecessor Barclays Bank, were not as stringently applied in the Dominican Bank. The non-application was less a display of deviant behaviour and more a response to cultural norms and values consistent with the Latin culture. A thorough understanding and appreciation of the divergence in the cultures of the Caribbean were critical to the formulation and execution of an effective communications programme during the change process from Banco Mercantil to Republic Bank DR, in order to ensure understanding and acceptance of the change.

The primary drivers for change in the case of Banco Mercantil were the absence of equity associated with the proprietary brand, arising from the loss of trust and confidence in the bank, the disillusionment of the bank's employees which impacted performance and hence business viability in the short, medium and long term, and the strong desire to turn the bank's fortunes around. These driving forces strongly outweighed any restraining forces that might have existed, including the loss of corporate identity and national pride. The force field analysis performed in the course of the study clearly revealed the need for change.

The change of name from Banco Mercantil to Republic Bank DR S.A. is historic in the Republic Bank context, as it is the first of Republic Bank's acquired subsidiaries to undergo a retirement of its proprietary brand and the adoption of the overarching heritage brand. The Bank's customary approach of maintaining the proprietary brands of acquisitions has resulted in the Republic Bank Group carrying a diverse portfolio of corporate brands in the Caribbean, culminating in a somewhat complicated brand landscape, and under-leverage of its heritage brand outside of its principal market, Trinidad and Tobago.

The re-branding of Banco Mercantil therefore provides the catalyst for, and the foundation upon which the re-branding of the Republic Bank Group may be undertaken. The major hindrance to the achievement of this objective however is the strength of emotion and national pride that still surround the brands of the acquired subsidiaries in Grenada, Guyana and Barbados in particular.

From a Republic Bank Group perspective there are also several important drivers advocating re-branding of the entire banking group. These include the increasing globalisation of business, the imminent introduction of the CSME and eventually the FTAA or other similar trade agreement; the Bank's need to broaden its regional footprint to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that would arise from increased globalisation, and the equity that would be derived from a significantly stronger and more cohesive brand.

Whether approached as a big bang or on a phased basis spanning weeks, months or years, a re-branding of the entire banking group would derive significant benefits in the long term from financial, identity, cost and control perspectives. In the final analysis, the eventual success would not only be measured by the presence of physical artifacts such as Republic Bank signage on branches and offices in all of the islands. It would also be measured by the Bank's ability to leverage financially from its corporate brand in several areas of business, and to provide a consistently high quality of service in all markets. The long-term objective however would be the achievement of the vision of being the bank of choice for customers, staff and shareholders and in so doing capturing the minds and hearts of the Caribbean people.

Declaration Form for the reproduction of the document

Given the highly competitive nature of the banking industry in the Caribbean and hence the confidential nature of the information contained in this study, reproduction or sharing of any information contained herein is strictly prohibited without expressed and written consent from the author and Republic Bank Limited.

1. Introduction

  • Origins and Purpose

The Republic Bank Group is one of the largest and most profitable financial services groups in the Caribbean. Originating from Barclays Bank and its predecessor Colonial Bank, Republic Bank has served the people of the Caribbean, specifically Trinidad and Tobago for 168 years.

This study seeks to reposition and re-brand the Republic Bank Group, as the Bank moves closer to its vision of being the “Bank of Choice in the Caribbean”. Re-branding of the Group is particularly critical at this time, as the Bank continues to prepare itself for increased competition in the markets in which it currently operates, as well as for further expansion within and outside of the Caribbean.

1.2The Case of Banco Mercantil

In establishing a framework for the re-branding exercise, the study looks specifically at the case of Banco Mercantil S.A., Republic Bank's subsidiary in the Dominican Republic, which was recently re-branded and repositioned in that market (May 5, 2005). The new bank, Republic Bank DR S.A. will focus primarily on the private banking and corporate and commercial market niches in the Dominican Republic, as it charts a path to profitability.

In conducting the study, attention was paid to the process that was required in the execution of the re-branding and the benefits to be derived by the brand arising from the change of name and identity. In discussing the re-branding of Banco Mercantil, the study analyses the corporate identities of Republic Bank and Banco Mercantil to ascertain their status and the existence of any disconnects that might exist. It also identifies the reasons for the Bank's earlier hesitation at re-branding its Caribbean acquisitions, the cultural shifts that are required at both the parent and subsidiary levels, the move to commence the process in the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic and the foundation that is laid for an escalation of the re-branding process throughout the Caribbean.

The framework established for the re-branding of Banco Mercantil, and detailed in this study, may be used with appropriate adjustments to cater to cultural, social and political differences, to the re-branding and repositioning of Republic Bank's other Caribbean acquisitions, namely the National Commercial Bank of Grenada Limited (NCB), The National Bank of Industry and Commerce Limited (NBIC) in Guyana and the Barbados National Bank (BNB).

1.3Historic Step

The change of name of Banco Mercantil to Republic Bank DR S.A. is historic in the Republic Bank context, as it is the first of Republic Bank's acquired subsidiaries to undergo an identity change, and would as suggested above, provide the catalyst for, and the foundation upon which the re-branding of Republic Bank's Caribbean empire might be undertaken.

1.4Approach

The study adopts an analytical approach to the re-branding exercise and draws upon the results of two surveys conducted in the Dominican Republic and Grenadian markets to test the corporate image of Republic Bank's subsidiaries in those countries. It also employs several change management and corporate identity management models in its analysis of the current situations in the Dominican Republic and the Southern and Eastern Caribbean, and in devising recommendations for the Group's re-branding. The historic background of the Republic Bank Group is described, the environmental landscape in the Dominican Republic examined and the mood for change in that country discussed, to put into context the decision to re-brand Banco Mercantil.

The study also employs Kurt Lewin's model for change specifically in the execution of the re-branding of Banco Mercantil, and in so doing provides a framework for executing similar changes in other subsidiaries in the future. Fundamental marketing concepts articulated by Kotler and Jeannet and Hennessey were combined with more recent models related to branding by communications and branding experts such as John M.T. Balmer and Stephen Greyser as well as the use of the robust strategic models from experts such as Lewin, Mintzberg and Kammerer.

The mood for change in the Southern and Eastern Caribbean and the macro environmental drivers that have impacted the Bank's hesitation at re-branding its subsidiaries thus far were also diagnosed and analysed, using Force Field Analyses. These examined the driving forces pushing for change of the brand, as well as those restraining forces working against a change and advocating maintenance of the status quo. Comparative SWOT Analyses were also conducted to determine the most significant areas of weakness and opportunity, and to devise strategies aimed at maximising the strengths of both the Dominican subsidiary and the Group.

An integral part of the change process involved in the re-branding of Banco Mercantil, was the analysis of that bank's corporate identity, the corporate identity of Republic Bank Limited and a comparison of the results of both tests. This analysis was undertaken using the AC²ID Test model devised by Harvard Business School professor John Balmer. The test threw up some interesting, albeit not surprising facts, which influenced the decision to change the bank's name, as well as the choice of name itself.

1.5Benefits

Republic Bank's post-acquisition strategy previously advocated retention of the proprietary brand of the acquired subsidiary, rather than retirement of the weaker brand following analysis, or even retirement of the acquired brand in favour of the acquirer brand. This has resulted in the Bank carrying a diverse portfolio of corporate brands in the Caribbean, culminating in a somewhat confusing brand landscape, and little or no physical presence of its heritage or overarching brand outside of Trinidad and Tobago. While Republic Bank enjoys a strong corporate identity, high top of mind recall, strong citizenship recognition and a positive corporate image in its primary market, Trinidad and Tobago, its diverse portfolio of brands causes its corporate brand to be lowly leveraged in the other Caribbean territories in which it operates.

Its vision of being the bank of choice in the Caribbean could therefore be stymied by its brand's low leverage and physical absence in the non-Trinidad and Tobago territories in which it operates. In those countries the heritage brand (Republic Bank) provides an endorsing role at best, and is essentially represented by the brands of its acquired subsidiaries. The brand proposition of each of the subsidiary banks also varies. The re-branding of the Group to achieve a strong, unified and consistent brand identity is of particular importance to Republic Bank at this time, as the Group seeks to buy a place in the minds and hearts of regional and global customers.

This study therefore produces the framework required for such a mammoth re-branding and repositioning exercise and in so doing provides a model that may be customised and employed in future corporate marketing exercises.

2.Background

2.1The Republic Bank Group

Republic Bank Limited is one of the oldest and most successful indigenous financial services groups in the English-speaking Caribbean. Republic Bank evolved from the British bank, Barclays Bank Dominion Colonial and Overseas (DCO) and its predecessor Colonial Bank that was established in 1868 to provide banking services to the British expatriates involved in the island's sugar cane industry, and later to the freed slaves and indentured labourers.

Today Republic Bank's ownership is widely dispersed embracing over 10,000 individual and institutional shareholders. Republic Bank currently operates in eight Caribbean territories through 14 subsidiaries and offices in Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands, St. Lucia, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago, and employs over 4,700 persons in the Caribbean.

With an asset base of US$5 billion (TT$28.6 billion) Republic Bank recorded after tax profits of US$105.4 million (TT$664 million) in its last financial year (2003/2004). The Bank's earnings per share in that year was TT$4.17 with return on average assets of 2.44% and return on shareholders' equity of 18.93%.

  • The Republic Bank Vision

Republic Bank has identified the following vision:

“Republic Bank, The Bank of Choice in the Caribbean

for Customers, Staff and Shareholders.

We set the Standard of Excellence in

Customer Satisfaction, Employee Satisfaction and Shareholder Value”

2.3Expansion through Organic Growth and Acquisition

Republic Bank has employed a strategy combining organic growth and strategic acquisition to facilitate its regional expansion goals over the past 13 years, as it sought to grow its asset base, increase market share and increase profitability. Its first such venture was the establishment of a joint venture merchant bank, Acedo Mendoza Fincor, with the Mendoza family of Venezuela. This operation soon extended to include an office in Panama but the Bank's shareholding was eventually sold to the Mendoza family at the start of Venezuela's economic decline in the mid 1990s.

That first move at overseas expansion was closely followed by the acquisition of the majority shareholding in the National Commercial Bank of Grenada Limited in 1992. This was followed shortly thereafter by the establishment of an offshore banking operation in the Cayman Islands, the acquisitions of the Bank of Commerce in Trinidad and Tobago and the National Bank of Industry and Commerce Limited in Guyana, the establishment of an office in Havana, Cuba, and the acquisitions of Barbados National Bank in Barbados and Banco Mercantil in the Dominican Republic.

Republic Bank's largest and most profitable operation at this time is in the country of its home base, Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad and Tobago bank alone operates 44 banking branches in the twin island republic and employs 2,790 persons, over half of the total number of persons employed by the Group. The strongest economies in which Republic Bank currently operates continue to be Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. The weakest economy at this time is the Dominican Republic in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, though it is showing signs of recovery, followed by Guyana in South America.

2.4The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

Republic Bank's organically grown subsidiaries all bear the same corporate identity, which is Republic Bank. The acquired subsidiaries of NCB (Grenada), NBIC (Guyana), BNB (Barbados) and Banco Mercantil (Dominican Republic) all bear their separate names and corporate identities, having retained their original brand names following acquisition.

The first three banks, namely NCB in Grenada, NBIC in Guyana and BNB in Barbados, were all “national” banks in their respective countries, with Republic Bank purchasing all or part of the governments' shareholdings. As the “national” banks, they catered largely to the grassroots and middle-income population and in some cases emerged from the era of nationalism and political struggle in the Caribbean during the 1970s. In the case of each acquisition there was some negative reaction from those nationals who viewed the transaction as a sale of the country's national heritage to an “outsider”. This sentiment

was strongly expressed during the initial stages of the BNB purchase, where the sale of the Barbados government's shareholding in BNB threatened to become a political issue, in spite of the significant premium that was paid for the shares. That furore has since quelled, as the Barbadian public has been able to witness and experience the positive value that Republic Bank has brought to both BNB and to the financial sector in that country in the last year and a half.

Given the history therefore, it is understandable that there would be strong feelings of national pride and patriotism attached to the identities i.e. proprietary brands of NCB, NBIC and BNB, particularly among the grassroots and the middle-income earners in the respective markets.

It was for this principal reason - strength of national pride and patriotism, and the resultant possibility of customer migration and loss of business - that Republic Bank demonstrated its initial reluctance to initiate name changes in the territories, post acquisition.

Its post acquisition strategy had been to retain the existing management and employees, once competent, and to preserve the name and corporate identity of the bank, as a means of maintaining the goodwill and equity that were attached to the brand, and so prevent business loss. The Bank focused instead on aligning the systems and procedures of the acquired bank to those of Republic Bank, and providing the infrastructural, technological and intellectual support that would enable the growth and development of the acquired subsidiary, and, by extension the economy of the respective country. Little attention was placed on alignment of the corporate identities or of the introduction or promotion of the corporate identity of the parent company, Republic Bank Limited.

This approach of working alongside the subsidiary, rather than implementing drastic changes, triggered little outward disruption to the external environment, particularly customer relationships, and allowed the employees to focus gradually on the cultural shifts that were required to facilitate partial integration into the Republic Bank Group, while at the same time allowing them to retain their original identities.

The impact of Republic Bank on those overseas subsidiaries has however been felt over time by customers, the general public and competitors in those markets, as the subsidiaries adopted a more aggressive and energetic stance in their operations, marketing and customer service, growing market share by as much as 10% in one year in the case of BNB. Customers were aware that these changes were the result of the new ownership of the bank and the deepening of the relationship with the parent company, Republic Bank, even though this link was seldom emphasised in external communication. The majority of customers appreciated the changes, since they impacted positively on the levels of efficiency evident in the banks, manifest in the quality of the service that they received, and the broadening array of product offers to which they were exposed.

The subsidiaries themselves clearly recognised the value that their association with Republic Bank brought to bear on their bank's success and customer interactions, particularly in the area of business facilitation. There is also a growing gratification in the association with a large, successful and powerful Caribbean bank, particularly at this time, when the business emphasis appears to be shifting increasingly toward integration and the benefits of larger size to cope with increased globalisation.

2.5The Mood for Change-The Dominican Republic

There is a positive mood for change in the Dominican Republic in relation to the re-branding of Banco Mercantil S.A., fuelled primarily by the country's desperate economic situation and the virtual collapse of the financial system. The government and many Dominicans viewed as a welcome move, Republic Bank's entry into the Dominican financial sector through its acquisition of Banco Mercantil in 2003.

It must be remembered that in the midst of Republic Bank's entry, was the failure of several other commercial banks, principally due to rampant fraud and mismanagement facilitated by closed ownership - the majority of businesses in the Dominican Republic, including the major banks are owned by a few wealthy families - and a culture that appears to embrace less stringent ethical standards than those embraced by many countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. The Latin culture in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, is not as supportive of intense structures and systems as is the English culture. Hence the presence of strong systems to support business and demand strong ethical practice was almost absent in the Dominican Republic. Corruption was therefore rife. Additionally, the Latin culture's focus on external appearances as an indicator of success and well-being, also belies the true financial status of organisations and little attempt is made to delve sufficiently deep to ascertain the reality. A thorough understanding of the divergence in the cultures of the Caribbean was therefore critical to the formulation and execution of an effective communications programme during the change process - i.e. movement from Banco Mercantil to Republic Bank DR.

Given the negative experiences of the immediate past, the employees and customers of Banco Mercantil were anxious for the presence of a professional organization with wide and diffused ownership, that would introduce systems and procedures to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, high levels of professionalism and business continuity. The regulators and employees alike were also determined to prevent a run on the bank and the consequential loss of jobs, while retaining and growing their existing customer base. Republic Bank's good reputation as a sound and professional financial services provider in Trinidad and Tobago preceded it, and the Bank was well respected by the regulators, the small cadre of business and financial officials in the DR who knew of it, as well as by the employees who did their personal research on the Bank and its history and reputation.

2.6The Mood for Change -The Southern & Eastern Caribbean

The mood for change in the Southern and Eastern Caribbean is less enthusiastic than it is in the Dominican Republic. A survey conducted by NCB Grenada early in 2005 to test the bank's corporate image revealed positive sentiments toward Republic Bank's influence on the efficiency and general good performance of NCB, and mixed reactions to the possibility of a re-branding of the subsidiary. The underlying reason for this reluctance was the strong feeling of national pride and patriotism that continues to exist in the islands, for the reasons indicated earlier in this section. The reasons are more emotional than logical, and therefore more challenging to overcome, as branding is built to a greater extent on emotion and feelings, than it is on logic and reason. In spite of the strength of these sentiments however, there appears to be a listening to the possibility of change, as the Grenada survey indicated. A listening that Republic Bank should encourage as it contemplates a regional re-branding of the group.

2.7The Environmental Landscape in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a Spanish speaking country in the Northern Caribbean bordered by the Caribbean Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean and Haiti. With a population of 8.8 million people, the Dominican economy has had one of the fastest growth rates in the hemisphere over the past decade. The country enjoyed growth in Gross Domestic

Product (GDP) of more than 7% pre annum between 1998-2000.

Growth subsequently plummeted as part of the global economic slowdown. Although the country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee and tobacco, in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. The Dominican Republic suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income. Growth turned negative in 2003 with reduced tourism, a major bank fraud and limited growth in the US economy, the source of 87% of export revenues. The inflation rate based on 2003 national statistics is 27.5%, with unemployment being 16.5% and 25% of the population living below the poverty line.

Predominantly Roman Catholic, the ethnic composition of the Dominican Republic differs from that of Trinidad and Tobago, with persons of mixed ethnicity comprising 73% of the population, whites 16% and blacks 11%. This ethnic composition was considered when formulating communication material related to advertising on the re-branding of Banco Mercantil. It will also be considered in the future in the production of standard external communication material such as mass media advertising for the Group.

3.Statement of Opportunity

Given Republic Bank's stated vision of being the “Bank of Choice in the Caribbean”, the onset of globalisation which has opened up hitherto inaccessible markets, the imminent commencement of the CSME and FTAA which would open up the Caribbean to large, powerful and influential business competitors, coupled with the aggressive stance of competitive forces within the Caribbean itself, there is an opportunity at this time for Republic Bank to reposition and re-brand its regional subsidiaries, beginning with Banco Mercantil, its subsidiary in the Dominican Republic.

4.Theoretical Perspectives

This study embraces several theoretic concepts in bringing about the re-branding and repositioning of the Republic Bank Group and more specifically the re-branding of its Dominican Republic subsidiary, Banco Mercantil. The study utilises a number of theories in change management, strategic business planning and corporate identity analysis in orchestrating the required change.

4.1AC²ID Test

In analysing the corporate identities of Republic Bank Limited and Banco Mercantil the AC²ID Test devised by Harvard Business School Professor, John Balmer was used extensively. The AC²ID Test is a model used to assist companies in evaluating and understanding their corporate identities, to identify deficiencies and misalignments often arising from, but not limited to mergers and acquisitions, and to form the basis for realignment or correction of the misaligned corporate identities.

•The Acid test is a model used to assist companies in evaluating and understanding identify deficiencies

The test acknowledges that every organisation has more than one identity, and categorises these into five specific areas that help to shape the overall identity and eventually the image of the organisation. These identities are:

  • ACTUAL IDENTITY - this comprises the current, distinct attributes of the company i.e. what it does.
  • COMMUNICATED IDENTITY - what does the company communicate via Advertising, Public Relations, and Sponsorships?
  • CONCEIVED IDENTITY - Stakeholder Perceptions - corporate image & reputation - how does the company appear to stakeholders?
  • IDEAL IDENTITY - Optimum Positioning based on current knowledge of the company's capabilities.
  • DESIRED IDENTITY -Corporate vision from the perspective of the CEO and the Board of Directors.

The AC²ID Test was employed to evaluate and analyse the corporate identities of Republic Bank and Banco Mercantil in consolidating and guiding the process of changing the Banco Mercantil name and the adoption of the overarching brand, Republic Bank.

4.2Structure's Influence on Corporate Identity

In identifying a link or relationship between organisational structure/hierarchy and corporate identity, the work of Olins, Ind and Kammerer were explored and applied. Olins identified three basic types of visual architecture used by organisations namely,

  • the monolithic, where one visual identity or name is used throughout the organisation e.g. Mc Donald's or Citibank; (b) the endorsed where a subsidiary or business unit has its own visual identity but where visual reference is also made to the holding company, as in the case of Republic Bank and its regional subsidiaries; and (c) the branded (where a subsidiary or business unit has its own visual identity but makes no visual reference to the holding company). Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, General Mills and Proctor and Gamble tend to fall into this category. In the case of those companies, the strength of the brand lies in the values and properties of the product more than in the strength of the company and the corporate brand.

Ind extended the work of Olins by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each identity structure. These are indicated in Table 1 below.

Table 1

CORPORATE IDENTITY STRUCTURES

Identity Structure

Rationale

Strengths

Weaknesses

Monolithic

Identity built around a clearly defined idea.

High visibility, economies of communication.

Every business under threat in the case of adverse event/s. May curb innovation due to risk to whole identity.

Endorsed

Visible parent company but subsidiary companies are strong brands that keep their own style.

Goodwill associated with brands the company has acquired is maintained.

Difficult to give sense of purpose to multi-faceted, multi-branded organisation. Difficult balancing act.

Branded

Wide diversity of businesses within corporate portfolio.

Brands are free to develop identities of their own. Suitable for fast-moving consumer goods and conglomerates.

Difficult to communicate strength to financial audiences. Corporate reputation may suffer due to fragmented identity.

Kammerer identified different structures according to the goals of the parent company and pinpointed four types of identity structures which he called ‘action types'. Table 2 illustrates Kammerer's identity structures.

Table 2

KAMMERER'S IDENTITY STRUCTURES

Action Type

Explanation

Advantage

Financial Orientation

Subsidiaries are purely financial participants, retaining their own identity and parent company does not interfere.

Completely separate identities.

Organisational-oriented corporate identity

Sharing of organisational rules by parent company and subsidiaries. Culture of subsidiaries influenced, but functioning of corporate identity internal, not visible to outside world.

Culture of subsidiaries compatible with parent company.

Communication-oriented corporate identity

Fact that subsidiaries belong to parent company is clearly expressed in advertising and symbolism.

Conveys size to target groups, which increases

confidence of subsidiaries.

Single company identity

All actions, messages and symbols come across as one consistent whole.

Consistency.

4.3Structural Architecture Influences Identity - Mintzberg's Organisational Structures

Mintzberg offered a detailed model in 1989, linking organisational structure and corporate identity, which focuses on the forces that drive an organisation. This framework highlights the effect of organisational structure on corporate identity management and the ways in which organisational structure needs to be considered in designing effective corporate identity management programmes. According to Mintzberg's model, the essence of organisational structure comprised six parts namely the operating core, strategic apex, middle line, techno structure, support staff and ideology or culture. This sixth element i.e. the culture encompasses the traditions and beliefs that distinguish the organisation from any other.

Mintzberg's framework focuses upon the extent to which each of the six parts, including ideology, becomes the major force driving the organisation, depending on its structure. He further developed six types of organisations, namely Entrepreneurial, Machine, Professional, Diversified, Innovative and Missionary that may be explained by the parts that dominate or the major forces or pulls that the organisation experiences. Mintzberg's theory postulates that existing organisations fit into one of the six configurations and that each configuration reflects leading tendencies in organizations. His theory further states that the configurations are useful in understanding the reasons why the development of a unified corporate identity in some organisations appears problematic and this understanding may be a first step to remedying such problems. Mintzberg's organisational structures may be explained via the following table.

Table 3

Mintzberg's Organizational Structures

Configuration

Prime Coordinating Mechanism

Key Part of Organization

Resulting Force

Entrepreneurial Organisation

Direct supervision

Strategic apex

Pull to lead - control over decision-making

Machine Organisation

Standardisation of work processes

Techno structure

Pull to rationalise

Professional Organisation

Standardisation of skills

Operating Core

Pull to Professionalise

Diversified Organisation

Standardisation of outputs

Middle Line

Pull to balkanize

Innovative Organisation

Mutual Adjustment

Support Staff

Pull to Collaborate

Missionary Organisation

Standardisation of norms

Ideology

Pull Together

4.4Kurt Lewin's Change Model

Kurt Lewin's well known Change Model and Force Field Analysis proved useful in the diagnosis of the issues surrounding the re-branding of Banco Mercantil and the proposed re-branding of the Republic Bank Group. It also provided the logical framework for the execution of the name change at Banco Mercantil. Lewin's Change Model is a management technique used for diagnosing situations often involving the implementation of some type of change, and in situations involving attempts to overcome resistance to change. The model conceives of change as the modification of particular forces that keep a system's behaviour stable as they strive to maintain the status quo. The driving forces are those forces that affect the situation and are pushing for the initiation and maintenance of change. Restraining forces are those forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces. When both forces are in balance the status quo is maintained in what Lewin termed a state of “quasi-stationary equilibrium”.

The three steps of Lewin's Change Model include: Unfreezing, Movement and Refreezing as Diagram 1 illustrates.

Diagram 1: Lewin's Framework for Change

Refreezing

The process of stabilising the organisation after the change has taken place and creating a new equilibrium

Movement

The process of altering the organisational situation in preparation for the change.

Unfreezing

The process of creating an awareness of the need for change in the organisation and the removal of

any resistance to change that might exist.

Lewin's Force Field Analysis is an important component of the change model that identifies the intensity of the driving forces for change and the restraining forces resisting the change. The stronger effort of the driving forces or weaker effort of the restraining forces will shift the current balance or bring about change.

Diagram 2: Lewin's Force Field Analysis Model

Restraining-4 Higher

Forces-3

-2

-1 Current Level

of Brand

Driving+1Identity

Forces+2

+3

+4 Lower

In the case of the Republic Bank Group's re-branding objective, retraining forces would include customer affinity and loyalty to the proprietary brand e.g. NCB Grenada, or the strong sense of nationalism that prevails in the islands of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. Equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces. Ideally in bringing about the desired change the equilibrium can be raised or lowered by changes in the relationship between the driving and the restraining forces. Lewin's recommended approach is a reduction in the forces maintaining the status quo as opposed to an increase in the forces pushing to change it, as the latter approach, he suggests, provides less tension in the change process and is hence more efficient.

In the case of a Republic Bank Group re-branding, the ideal situation would be a decrease in the level of the restraining forces rather than an increase in the level of the driving forces, since the latter might be perceived as aggressive and might not be viewed positively. Interestingly increasing the driving forces could actually achieve the objective in the short term, but could contribute to the creation of additional restraining forces in the long term, which could undermine the change, particularly the refreezing process that would ensure sustainability.

4.5Branding Theories

Narrative and theories on brand building evolve to suit the needs of the market, and in recent years has experienced significant change. The progression ranges from the perception of brands as, “the name associated with one or more items in the product line, that is used to identify the source of character of the item(s)”, to the realisation that brands are more than merely identifiers as suggested by the quotation from Kotler. More recent practitioners argue that brands in fact serve several functions related to the essence of the brand, the perceived risk associated with the brand and the pleasure side of the brand. According to Kapferer, “the value of the brand comes from its ability to gain an exclusive, positive and prominent meaning in the minds of a large number of consumers”. He contends that branding and brand building should focus on developing brand value. Table 4 identifies the value functions of the brand for the consumer.

Table 4:

The Functions of the Brand for the Consumer

Function

Consumer Benefit

Identification

To be clearly seen, to make sense of the offer, to quickly identify the sought-after products.

Practicality

To allow savings of time and energy through identical repurchasing and loyalty.

Guarantee

To be sure of finding the same quality no matter where or when you buy the product or service.

Optimisation

To be sure of buying the best product in its category, the best performer for a particular purpose.

Characterisation

To have confirmation of your self-image or the image that you present to others.

Continuity

Satisfaction brought about through familiarity and intimacy with the brand that you have been consuming for years.

Hedonistic

Satisfaction linked to the attractiveness of the brand, to its logo, to its communication.

Ethical

Satisfaction linked to the responsible behaviour of the brand in its relationship towards society.

4.6Brand Decisions

The creation of one brand that spans many diverse markets is akin, from the marketing perspective, to designing a global market offering. The offering must be relevant and be able to satisfy the functional needs of the target market, must also be able to connect with the target market on an emotional level, and effectively cut through cultural barriers to clearly convey the brand's values. As the company's promise to consistently deliver its specific set of features, benefits and services to buyers, the brand embraces six levels of meaning namely, attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and user i.e. the kind of customer or the type of person who would use the services of the particular bank. Whether a product or corporate brand, the development of a deep set of positive associations for the brand is important, as is the determination by the company of the most advantageous level at which the brand's identity should be anchored.

5.Methodology

Diagnosis is a critical precursor to the implementation of any organisational change. In investigating the environment in which the change is to occur, or even the broader environment that is likely to impact the change process, diagnosis provides the necessary information that would lead the company to devise appropriate interventions for resolving the problems or taking full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

5.1Market Research: Dominican Republic

In the case of this study, two surveys were conducted and the findings used to guide the intervention recommendations. Both were qualitative research exercises, one conducted in the Dominican Republic in July of 2004 by the firm of Read and Associates, to test the corporate image and the level of acceptance of Banco Mercantil in that market, and to ascertain the views of retail banking and private banking customers relative to their future relationships with the bank. The study employed the use of sample surveying using a random selection technique. The Maximum margin of error allowed in sampling was +/-2.8% with an estimated confidence level of 95%. The survey was nationwide, covering 1,200 households from the total banking market (i.e. persons with some sort of banking relationship) and the specific banking market (i.e. persons with a banking relationship with Banco Mercantil); it employed a semi-structured approach, and combination of 31 structured and open-ended questions.

The findings of this survey were complimented by the feedback received from the employees of Banco Mercantil, gathered orally during three staff workshops/fora that were held over the 12-month period. The feedback from staff involved their personal views on the state of the organisation, as well as suggestions for improvement and feedback received during the course of their dealings with customers at their various points of contact.

5.2Market Research: Grenada

The second survey was a qualitative market research study conducted in February 2005 by Caribbean Market Research of Trinidad and Tobago, among customers and non-customers of the National Commercial Bank of Grenada Limited. The research sought to evaluate NCB's corporate image, vis a vis other commercial banks in Grenada; test the views of respondents in relation to NCB's relationship with Republic Bank Limited and the possibility of a name change involving NCB; the level of recall of existing corporate image programmes implemented by NCB, as well as issues deemed as important by the bank's management, staff and customers in determining the current image of NCB. (See discussion guide at Appendix 3).

Six (6) focus group sessions were held amongst managers and staff of the bank and groups of customers between the ages of 22 and 55 years (in separate groups), as well as customers of competing banks in Grenada, between the ages of 22 and 55 years. Respondents were identified by an independent research company and spanned the island, with the heaviest concentration in the greater St. George's/Grand Anse areas which tends to have the highest banked population.

While the findings of the survey were viewed as indicative rather than definitive, given the qualitative nature of focus group research, they were considered in the recommendation in this study to re-brand the entire Republic Bank group over time.

5.3Interview with Managing Director Designate

A taped interview was also conducted with Republic Bank's Managing Director Designate in January 2005 to ascertain the executive's views regarding a re-branding of the Group. A face to face interview was seen as the most effective medium of information gathering at this level, as it provided an opportunity for direct contact with one of the key decision makers in the bank, and allowed the opportunity to explore new and related issues which arose during the course of the interview and which could have bearing on the study.

The information gathered in this interview reinforced some of the thoughts expressed earlier in this study and helped to align the recommendations to Group goals. The interview followed a schedule of specific questions related to the Bank's vision, expansion and branding strategies. The questions were open-ended and allowed for free discussion and comment. (See questionnaire at Appendix 4).

5.4Strategic Business Models

A number of strategic business models were also used during the course of the study, including Kurt Lewin's Change Model and Force Field analysis, which sought to identify and rank those forces pushing for the change of name of the Group and those forces resisting the change. The models were also applied to the Banco Mercantil situation in planning and orchestrating that transformation.

SWOT analyses were conducted on Banco Mercantil and on Republic Bank in planning the strategy for the re-branding of that subsidiary.The SWOTs brought focus to the areas requiring improvement particularly in the Dominican subsidiary, the strengths of the parent company that could effectively be leveraged in executing the name change and in the corporate branding process thereafter.

An AC²ID Test Analysis was conducted using John Balmer's model for testing corporate identity effectiveness. For purposes of comparison, tests were conducted on Banco Mercantil and on its parent company Republic Bank. The results clearly indicated the need for change and pointed to the areas of greatest dysfunction that required urgent remedy.

6.Findings and Implementation Issues

6.1Research Study: Dominican Republic

The research conducted in the Dominican market confirmed that Banco Popular, the largest bank in the Dominican Republic had the highest recall in the market. The level of recall of that brand was 49% compared with its nearest rival Ban Reservas at 29.2% and Banco Mercantil much lower down the scale at 3.0%.

Generally the Dominican population surveyed displayed a low confidence level in banks (62.6% had little confidence compared to 21.1% with a lot of confidence and 16.3% with no confidence). With respect to Banco Mercantil specifically, 40.5% of respondents indicated that they had no confidence in the bank while 36.6% indicated that they had maintained a little confidence, 10.5% were fully confident and 12.4% had no view with regard to confidence. The most trustworthy bank in the country was identified as Banco Popular (27.5%), followed closely by Ban Reservas with 26.9%, with Banco Mercantil lower down the scale at 2.0%. In fact in response to the question on the least trustworthy bank in the country, Banco Mercantil was identified as that bank by 10.5% of respondents. In spite of the apparent lack of confidence in the institution however, 62.7% of respondents who were customers, expressed that they were very satisfied with the treatment and customer service offered by the employees of Banco Mercantil, while 63.8% indicated that they were very satisfied with the benefits and facilities they received from the bank.

The perception of the prospects for Banco Mercantil improved with the possibility of Republic Bank's intervention. 68.7% of respondents indicated that they felt Banco Mercantil would be more trustworthy with Republic Bank's involvement and 60.1% felt that the bank's name should be changed to Republic Bank.

The following top three conclusions were drawn based on the findings of the study:

  • There was a high level of mistrust arising from Banco Mercantil's recent financial problems, which resulted in an exodus of customers. The primary reason for the migration being the erosion of trust and confidence.
  • Banco Mercantil will benefit from its acquisition by Republic Bank, since the latter bank has a strong track record in the Caribbean for professionalism and integrity and the hope is that these values would be transferred Banco Mercantil. In fact 79.8% of existing customers surveyed felt comfortable recommending Banco Mercantil to a family member or friend because of Republic Bank's involvement.
  • The view was also expressed that Banco Mercantil needed to do more advertising to improve its image and increase its product offers, and should focus more attention on customer service to differentiate it from other players in the market.

6.2Research Study: Grenada

In contrast to the Dominican Republic market, the findings of the survey of the Grenadian market were significantly more positive in relation to the bank's image.

Responses from NCB's managers and staff were generally positive and the group was able to make constructive recommendations for improvements in areas so identified.

The general perceptions of and spontaneous responses about NCB were largely positive, with the bank being described as, “a leader, a trendsetter, the bank of the people, a good corporate citizen, having a large corporate heart, the most popular bank, vibrant, a caring bank”, among other positive expressions. The customer service was perceived to be very good. The bank's weaknesses were however identified as its lack of communication between management and staff as evidenced by staff not being informed of new promotions and products on offer. Some employees also held the view that NCB was losing its personal touch and was moving away from its grassroots base. There was also a perception among this group that the bank needed to be more proactive and show greater initiative in product development and customer service, because of the growing aggression of the competitors.

The survey also revealed positive responses related to the wider perception of Republic Bank and its relationship with NCB, particularly in relation to the financial strength and stability of Republic Bank and the enhanced opportunities for greater exposure to banking techniques for staff. There was also a perception of increased productivity, more competitive interest rates on loans and generally greater customer benefits.

The reaction of management and staff to the possibility of a change of name to Republic Bank was positive, with the staff seeing the benefits to be derived by both their customers and themselves. The initial reaction to the possibility of a name change among customers and non-customers was not as positive, with non-customers being the least positive.

The opinion was expressed that the bank (NCB) would suffer a loss of identity and would no longer be perceived as local, and that NCB is still a “source of national pride”. This “absence”, they surmised could result in a loss of customers. A closer examination of the detailed findings revealed that the sentiments were actually split. While there was acknowledgement that the majority shareholder was no longer Grenadian, retaining the name still gave the bank “something Grenadian”. Additionally, there was the sentiment that a change of name would be more acceptable if the bank undertook an extensive advertising programme to inform customers. Communication was obviously highly valued and seen as necessary for success. External respondents made the following verbatim comments:

“I think they should get rid of the hypocrisy too. It belongs to Trinidad, whatever; it might just be a boost, an opportunity for the bank to start a whole new campaign and grow on that.”

“If they change the name and communicate the name change … if it is that Republic Bank owns the bank, then say so. Just tell people what it is and let them make an informed decision because I think people value that here.”

“I'm a realist. The way I see it, if they own it already, they might as well change the name. Just please put, “Republic Bank Grenada Limited”, you know, just so that we could hold on to a little of our pride still.”

Despite the apparent reluctance to change, the findings revealed a positive listening to the benefits of a re-branding. If this sentiment were to be applied to the other markets in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, supported by the appropriate and specific communication programmes to explain the need, sell the benefits and seek acceptance and agreement, the complete re-branding of the Republic Bank Group would be possible.

6.2.1Precedent Exists

The reality is that the precedent has already been set by competitor RBTT, which having expanded into the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, re-branded the banking group by changing the names of all of its overseas subsidiaries, as well as that of its main operation in Trinidad and Tobago to RBTT over a two-year period from 2002. Having changed the names of the RBTT subsidiaries in the Caribbean, including in the islands of Grenada and Barbados, there remains a restrained expectation, particularly in those two markets, that Republic Bank would eventually do the same. That expectation remains, in spite of the sentiments expressed by respondents in the Grenada survey.

6.3SWOT Analysis-Republic Bank Limited

STRENGTHS

  • Financially strong and stable with strong operating systems and procedures
  • High calibre executive and senior management team; good succession planning
  • High brand recall and strong brand reputation in primary market/s

WEAKNESSES

  • Multi branding (conglomerate) approach of Group, without the attendant regional awareness to support the conglomerate concept
  • Low leverage of heritage brand in regional markets, resulting in low brand awareness, recognition and recall in secondary markets i.e. markets in which subsidiaries operate
  • Limited brand awareness in the Dominican market

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Impending establishment of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)
  • Increased globalisation and the proposed establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
  • Need for Banco Mercantil re-branding

THREATS

  • Expansion of competing financial groups operating in the same markets including RBTT, FCIB
  • Shrinking markets through increased trading blocs
  • Strong sense of nationalism in eastern and southern Caribbean markets and strength of emotions attached to proprietary brands of acquired subsidiaries.

6.4SWOT Analysis-Banco Mercantil

STRENGTHS

  • Loyal and well trained staff
  • Good technological infrastructure
  • Good product offerings to suit customer needs

WEAKNESSES

  • Loss of customer trust and confidence resulting in no brand equity
  • Poor reputation arising from charges of corruption among previous owners of the bank
  • Insufficient and ineffective risk management systems and procedures to deter fraud

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Attract professionals with required knowledge and expertise from competing banks
  • Strengthen systems and procedures through alignment with Republic Bank
  • Re-brand organisation through change of name and identity to rebuild reputation, confidence and trust
  • Segment market and narrow focus to align product offers to suit needs of targeted segments

THREATS

  • Customer migration due to erosion of reputation
  • Damage to Republic Bank brand via association with Banco Mercantil if poor performance persists
  • Intellectual capital drain - migration of key staff to other competing banks

6.5Analysis of Findings: SWOT Analysis

The above SWOT analyses revealed several key deficiencies in the subsidiary, with the chief weaknesses being ineffective systems and controls, absence of brand equity, eroded customer confidence and goodwill associated with the brand. The bank can however leverage the remaining strengths and the opportunities arising from its association with Republic Bank to begin the process of rebuilding its reputation and returning the bank to profitability. The loyalty of its staff is being deepened and harnessed through ongoing staff workshops and training via the establishment of an in-house training and education department, focusing on technical skills enhancement using interactive media technology and supported by facilitator-led sessions, primarily in the areas of sales and customer service. Its product offers are also being further streamlined and refocused to specifically address the needs of the private, commercial and corporate banking segments, while a Customer Care Centre has been established as part of the marketing function, in line with a similar facility in operation at the parent company in Trinidad and Tobago.

The introduction of the Customer Care Centre was the first part of the process of alignment of the products and service offers of both banks, as Republic Bank moves to strengthen its corporate branding in non Trinidad and Tobago markets. The attempt at alignment followed a weeklong orientation in the Group Corporate Communications and Group Marketing Departments in Trinidad and Tobago for the Dominican subsidiary's marketing manager.

Banco Mercantil's greatest opportunity at this time clearly lies in its relationship with Republic Bank and the decision to reposition and re-brand the bank in the Dominican market. The most significant threat that this decision could bring to Republic Bank would be erosion of its own reputation and brand equity, should the repositioned bank, now bearing the Republic Bank corporate identity, fail to live up to expectations and goals. It is therefore critical that every effort be made in the movement and refreezing stages of the transformation, to institutionalise in the Dominican subsidiary, the core values of Republic Bank. This refreezing could be achieved via the implementation of systems and procedures that would ensure the required checks, balances and accountability. It is also important that the Bank remains focused on the targets that are being set for business expansion and branch and staff rationalisation in the Dominican Republic.

6.6AC²ID Test

The AC²ID Test analysed and evaluated the corporate identities of Republic Bank and Banco Mercantil in executing the change of name. The Actual, Communicated, Conceived, Ideal and Desired Identities of both Republic Bank and Banco Mercantil were compared and contrasted. The results are indicated in Table 5 below.

Table 5: AC²ID Test

IDENTITIES

BANCO MERCANTIL

REPUBLIC BANK

ACTUAL (Current, distinct attributes of the company; what it does)

Commercial bank primarily focused on retail and commercial banking in the Dominican Republic. It is in a state of transition and is focused on expanding its private banking, commercial and corporate customer base as part of its repositioning in the market.

Retail, commercial and corporate bank; strong & stable; wide range of financial products; strong reputation in merchant banking, trade and project financing in the Caribbean.

COMMUNICATED (What is communicated by the company via Advertising, Public Relations, sponsorships etc)

Is visible and recognisable in the market. Distinctive corporate identity via signage, colour and appearance. Maintains a low advertising presence in the mass media. Was mentioned in several negative newspaper reports.

High public profile; diverse range of banking services, supported by a strong social responsibility programme; involved in significant sponsorships and public relations programmes generating positive goodwill toward the organisation and positioning the organisation as professional and effective but caring.

AC²ID Test

IDENTITIES

BANCO MERCANTIL

REPUBLIC BANK

CONCEIVED (Stakeholder Perceptions - corporate image & reputation - how does the company appear?)

Poor corporate image and reputation primarily arising from allegations of mismanagement and fraud associated with the previous owners of the Bank. This negative perception creates uneasiness among customers, who would prefer that any vestiges of the past ownership be eliminated. The Bank is working hard to regain customer confidence and respect. This is a difficult if not impossible task with its current brand identity. To dispel the shadows of doubt the bank must first dispense with its former identity and adopt the branding, values and culture of its current owner/shareholder.

Good corporate image and reputation; perceived as professional, efficient, effective and cutting edge; stock perceived as blue chip. Viewed as socially responsible and a good, caring corporate citizen.

IDEAL (Optimum Positioning based on current knowledge of the company's capabilities)

Strong, stable, honest, dynamic; focused on facilitating customer wealth creation; in touch with global financial and investment trends; focused on providing its commercial customers with a competitive edge and top of the line, quality service to support its wide array of products.

Bank of choice in the Caribbean for customer, staff and shareholders; professional, cutting-edge, efficient and effective, trustworthy, strong and stable, socially responsible and caring; global in outlook but community focused in execution.

AC²ID Test

IDENTITIES

BANCO MERCANTIL

REPUBLIC BANK

DESIRED (Corporate vision from the perspective of the CEO and the board)

Strong, stable, reliable and honest. Cutting edge technology used to the benefit of its customers. Progressive and responsive to commercial customers.

Bank of choice, high standards of excellence, professional, honest, efficient and effective, socially responsible and caring, strong and stable.

6.7Analysing Corporate Identity

In the case of Banco Mercantil's AC²ID Test results, there are clearly several critical disconnects among the bank's Actual, Communicated, Conceived and Ideal identities. At this time the bank's Ideal and Desired identities are on par, but two other important identities namely the Conceived and Communicated identities neutralised the positive effects of this alignment.

Up to the time of acquisition Banco Mercantil's Communicated identity would have ranked low on a numeric scale, in spite of its high visibility via external signage on buildings. It did not enjoy a positive public profile in the period immediately preceding its acquisition by Republic Bank, and was mentioned in several negative newspaper reports.

Banco Mercantil's Conceived identity also revealed a poor corporate image and reputation, which contributed to a loss of customer confidence followed by loss of business. The status of this particular identity component could threaten the future success of the bank. Additionally the bank's Ideal identity was nowhere close to reality and requires radical adjustment to bring the overall identity into alignment. Republic Bank's Conceived and Ideal identities were diametrically opposed to those of Banco Mercantil.

The findings of Republic Bank's AC²ID Test on the other hand revealed an opposite situation. As the above table indicates, Republic Bank enjoys a high and positive public profile, is perceived as strong, honest, stable and profitable, and is a good prospect for potential investors. Republic Bank's identities were more consistent with a healthy, progressive organisation, while Banco Mercantil's disconnects were synonymous with dysfunction.

In light of the above conclusions of the AC²ID test the alternatives facing the parent company were:

  • Retain the existing name of the bank and invest substantially in refreshing the brand (i.e. Banco Mercantil S.A.) with a view to restoring customer confidence and trust and rebuilding the brand's credibility and equity over time.
  • Retire the Banco Mercantil brand, and introduce a new name and identity to both the market and to the Republic Bank Group.
  • Retire the Banco Mercantil brand and re-brand the bank Republic Bank DR, to demonstrate the alignment with the parent company and to project a new, more credible face to rebuild credibility among customers.

Table: 6 Pros and Cons of Each Option

Option 1

(Refresh Existing Brand)

Option 2

(Re-brand bank with completely new name and identity)

Option 3

(Reposition and Re-brand bank with identity of Republic Bank)

  • No immediate or medium term returns were discernable.
  • The brand equity was at minus zero and suspicions and mistrust were closely associated with the brand.
  • Would require significant financial investment with no guarantees of success, since the brand attributes were based on emotional responses, and closely associated with mistrust and suspicion.
  • Significant cost outlay in establishing a completely new brand and a steep curve in building a reputation for, and equity in that new, unknown identity.
  • Significantly longer time frame in gaining acceptance and recognition.
  • Might encourage suspicion among the Dominican population who would question the parent bank's apparent reluctance to share its name with the subsidiary. Such a move would not engender confidence, but would rather encourage a deepening of suspicions.
  • Strong brand equity; reputable institution with a long and distinguished history of performance and integrity.
  • Immediate brand recognition and respect in Southern Caribbean markets.
  • Leveraging heritage brand would benefit subsidiary.
  • Would require communications programme to create awareness of the Republic Bank brand in the Dominican market.
  • Ready framework and physical and emotional brand properties.
  • Significant cost outlay in the short term to change name (signage, stationery etc).
  • Immense cost savings in the long term.
  • Could negatively impact heritage brand if turnaround does not occur in the medium term.

Option 3 provided the greatest reward for the subsidiary as well as the greatest risk for the heritage brand. It was however the only plausible alternative for the Bank and feasible option to safeguard the significant investment of the parent company. The decision was supported by the Read and Associates survey, which revealed a desire by the market for a new more credible brand. Revitalisation of the existing brand therefore did not present a viable alternative.

The second option, which entailed the creation of a totally new brand, would have required significant capital outlay in the introduction and awareness creation phases. Since there would have been no history upon which to draw, and no brand equity upon which to fall, there would naturally have been no axis upon which the new brand could revolve and grow. Option 2 would simply have provided a new name as opposed to a credible brand and may have raised more suspicions in the process.

Additionally given the level of mistrust that followed the exit of the former owners of the bank, there was likely to be further mistrust and erosion of business with the entry of new unknowns with no history of success. Such a move would also have sent a clear signal to the market that the parent company, Republic Bank, lacked the confidence in its investment, evidenced by its perceived reluctance to share its brand name with its new acquisition. Lack of confidence was a signal that the bank could ill-afford to send at any time, but especially in the current environment.

The most logical and sensible decision was therefore to refocus, reposition and re-brand the bank through the adoption of the name of the parent company. This move would allow the subsidiary to benefit from the heritage brand's strong equity and prepare it to take advantage of the opportunities provided in the more lucrative and stable market segments of private, commercial and corporate banking.

The approach being adopted by Republic Bank was neither unique nor new, as large and successful international banking institutions such as Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) and Citigroup already established precedent. Both banks changed the names and re-branded banks that they acquired or with which they merged. In all cases the identity of the stronger brand - usually the parent brand was adopted. More recently HSBC changed the name of its Mexican acquisition, GF Bital to HSBC in 2004 to reflect its new ownership. In the case of Citigroup, when Citibank merged with Salomon Smith Barney, the Citi brand was adopted and the Salomon eliminated completely. Citibank retained the Smith Barney name as a secondary brand to represent a specific line of business.

Likewise following the acquisition of energy giant Amoco, by British Petroleum (BP) in 1998, the decision was taken to retain the BP brand over the Amoco brand, which was itself a strong international brand. BP's rationale for this decision was based on the view that the BP brand was seen as “up and coming”, and the BP logo was perceived to be more in tune with the newly merged company's vision.

6.8Lewin's Change Model Applied to Banco Mercantil (Diagram 3)

Refreezing

The process of stabilising the change at the new level, the creation of a new equilibrium and the introduction of measures that would support the change into the future.

  • Staff forum and other staff communication.
  • Implementation of Republic Bank standards, policies and procedures, core values.
  • Revised reporting structure/lines for the communications and marketing functions.
  • Orientation at RBL Head office for relevant officers.
  • Implementation of RBL corporate identity manual and standards.
  • Inclusion of desired behaviors and attitudes in performance appraisal system.
  • Setting of performance targets consistent with new company goals.

Movement

The development of new attitudes or behaviours and the implementation of the change.

  • Orientation and awareness for staff of Republic Bank's vision and values.
  • Alignment of the systems and procedures to those of RBL.
  • Ongoing internal communication.
  • Involvement of staff in morale building activities.
  • Ongoing external communication with regulators, customers, government officials, the general public and the shareholder.
  • Modification of the organizational structure at the senior management level, involving key positions critical to ongoing success.
  • Production of new designs for stationary, signage etc.
  • Mass Media communications programme to communicate new positioning.

Unfreezing

The process of creating an awareness of the need for change in the bank and the reduction of those forces, which maintain behaviour in its present form.

  • Staff surveys to determine concerns and ascertain recommendations for improvement.
  • Staff Fora to generally share information relative to the change and received immediate feedback from staff; build staff morale and support teamwork and commitment.
  • Republic Bank orientation.
  • Establishment of training centre.
  • Staff news magazine to facilitate ongoing communication.
  • Corporate image research (Read & Associates Survey).
  • Corporate image advertising campaign on Republic Bank.
  • Programme to facilitate high public visibility of new President.
  • gram 4)

6.8.1The Unfreezing

The awareness for change had to take place at several levels and in at least two different geographic territories namely the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago. In the Dominican Republic the primary stakeholders were (internally): the management and staff of Banco Mercantil including the board of directors and the major shareholder (Republic Bank); (externally): the regulatory authorities including Banco Central and the Governor and Superintendent of Banks, the bank's existing customers (retail and corporate), other businesses and the general public including suppliers. In Trinidad and Tobago the primary stakeholder was the major shareholder of Banco Mercantil, namely Republic Bank Limited and by extension the shareholders of Republic Bank itself, many of whom closely monitor their investment in the parent company.

Internal

There was an urgent need to address the fears of employees of Banco Mercantil regarding the financial status and future of the bank, while at the same time enrolling them in the process that would be necessary to orchestrate their climb out of the economic quagmire in which the country and the bank had found themselves.

The move to profitability was a definite medium term objective. There was also a critical need at the outset to create in staff a renewed sense of belonging and commitment to the organisation, a sense of excitement in what they did and the prospect of improvement and change; confidence in and respect for the new leadership and the new owners. The bank's new owners and leaders were virtual unknowns to the vast majority of the employees. Republic Bank was not of the Dominican Republic, and while it had done some trade facilitation in that country in the past, it was not widely known outside of specific corporate circles there.

Several tactics were employed to address these internal needs relative to employees. Communication is always critical in such situations and therefore significant emphasis was placed on open, honest, timely and frequent communication with staff. This occurred via internal circulars, repeated personal visits to branches by the newly appointed President (a retired Deputy Managing Director of Republic Bank), regular staff fora, branch and department meetings with managers and when necessary directly with staff, morale building team exercises and involvement in bank-related social activities such as sporting and cultural activities that helped to build self-esteem and deepen team commitment, while underscoring the need to unwind and have fun. These activities proved very successful.

The three staff fora provided the critical platform for the necessary two-way communication flow with staff, and proved to be an integral component of the unfreezing process. It served as one of the early mechanisms through which the reduction in the forces that maintain the status quo was realised, as it gave ventilation to burning questions and concerns and provided ready answers. Honesty and openness characterised and underscored the approach to the fora. There was no attempt in any of these interactions to mask the facts. Staff knew that there would be job losses as the bank sought to reduce cost and turnaround its fortunes, and this fact was confirmed at the outset. The honesty and forthrightness with which responses were given served to quell the flames of uncertainty and disquiet among the staff body. Another important vehicle used in the unfreezing and refreezing stages was the staff newsletter, which provided ongoing communication on the process to keep the internal public up-to-date, and to help to rebuild staff confidence.

Important to the success of this exercise was the development of employee faith in, and respect for the new management. The visibility of the new president and his accessibility to staff were key components to the achievement of this goal. The president made personal visits to branches and offices to listen to staff concerns and share with them Republic Bank's vision for Banco Mercantil; made every effort to become fluent in the language (Spanish) and delivered in Spanish major staff addresses at staff forums. This move to communicate in their language endeared him to the staff during these important early stages of the transformation, who perceived through him that Republic Bank was open to their culture, was adaptable and was caring, in spite of the tough measures that were required to stabilise the bank and return it to profitability.

An internal communications programme was also introduced with success, to educate and inform employees about the vision, values, performance and history of the parent company,. This was followed by a second phase, which sought to reinforce the core values and engender a feeling of belonging to the Republic Bank Group, as the gradual phasing out of the Banco Mercantil brand continued internally. An important aspect of this programme involved distribution to staff of the artefacts that would be constant reminders of Republic Bank's values and the employees' role in their adoption. Some of these items included calendars, mouse pads, computer screen savers, note pads and pens, and mirrors which were placed just outside staff restrooms bearing the message: “Yo soy el Banco.” (“I am the Bank”).

A company intranet was also established and used effectively to transmit bank-related information and events, ranging from staff movements to new product launch and the president's itinerary of visits to branches. The efforts created an environment of involvement and participation among the staff, which contributed positively to the bank's customer service delivery and to the transmission of positive messages to the external publics via customer contact in branches and socially outside of working hours.

It must also be noted that Republic Bank's policy of dealing swiftly and severely with employees who breeched banking code or who were discovered to be involved in fraudulent practice was introduced at Banco Mercantil, and rigidly adhered to as part of the movement and refreezing processes. Interestingly this practice was widely welcomed by employees since it was viewed as an act of pruning “infected branches” to ensure the re-growth and survival of the tree.

External

Externally, the unfreezing process was undertaken at the level of the regulators namely Banco Central, through regular meetings and discussions with its Governor and Superintendent of Banks, the customers and general public via a mass media communications programme which sought to inform and educate the Dominican public about Republic Bank, its history, accomplishments, policies, structure and leadership, as well as the country to which it belonged, namely Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition to press and radio material the campaign utilised outdoor advertising billboards and signs and was supported by below the line in-branch brochures and promotional items such as calendars that were distributed to customers and staff. This communications campaign was guided by the results of the Read and Associates corporate image survey. The building of service brands places significant emphasis on the quality of the customer experience, and staff play a critical role in this regard. The staff body therefore proved to be an effective external communications vehicle in getting positive messages to customers. The focus on employee information and buy-in therefore bore fruit, since employees were able to convey relevant information to customers with whom they interacted in branches and socially in their private lives, and contributed to the process of rebuilding confidence in the bank.

The bank's president and members of his senior executive team also made personal visits to high net-worth customers to reassure them of Republic Bank's commitment and dissuade them from migration to competing banks. This programme proved largely successful. While there was some loss of customer support during the period, the exodus fortunately was not sufficient to cause a run on the bank, and the bank is at this time seeing a return of some of these customers, plus the entry of new, high net-worth clients.

The Dominican culture places significant emphasis on external appearances and associations and the profile of the leader of an organisation is considered very important, particularly that of a bank, where the issue of trust is paramount. It was therefore important that moves be made early in the process, to build the profile and increase the visibility of the bank's president. This programme involved his presence at key high-level social events, repeated visits to the leaders of large businesses, the delivery of speeches at business meetings to share the Republic Bank philosophy and vision, and a series of interviews with the major newspapers and business magazines in that country. Those appearances coupled with the depth and quality of his interviews proved very effective.

6.8.2The Movement

The process of moving toward the change was perhaps the most trying. It required a cultural shift in behaviours in the branches and offices of Republic Bank DR (formerly Banco Mercantil), and in the mindsets of the employees. The Dominican attitude to work is generally a casual one even at management level, which was at odds with the highly efficient and professional approach traditionally adopted by Republic Bank.

Orchestration of the move necessitated the secondment of key managers and staff from Republic Bank's parent company in Trinidad and Tobago and one person from its subsidiary in Guyana, NBIC, to manage or render support in key areas of the bank. Republic Bank staff were deployed in the areas of credit card operations, internal audit, credit, recoveries, risk management and administration. The Communications and Marketing function remained intact and with the guidance and support of Republic Bank's Group Corporate Communications Department in Trinidad and Tobago, was instrumental in orchestrating the unfreezing and to a lesser extent the movement and refreezing processes.

6.8.3The Refreezing

Internal

The refreezing process was largely internal. The staff fora held during the unfreezing and movement phases again proved useful and beneficial in “systemising” the changes that had taken place at the bank, as well as those that were in progress.

Operational manuals were amended and in some cases rewritten to reflect the more structured systems and procedures of Republic Bank. Joint teams undertook this process.

In preparation for the name change and the introduction of physical artefacts such as stationery, signage and other communication devices, the new corporate signature was produced by the head office in Trinidad and included in the Bank's corporate identity manual, a thoroughly detailed document providing explicit guidance on the use of the Bank's corporate signature. This was shared with the subsidiary and became a key component of the physical brand conversion. Finished artwork for all communication devices was seen and authorised by the Group Corporate Communications Manager in Trinidad prior to production of signs, stationery, advertising and other artefacts. The institutionalisation of the core value, customer satisfaction is being undertaken through the introduction of the Customer Care Centre at Republic Bank DR.

The refreezing process is an ongoing one that would naturally have to consider the cultural differences in the Dominican Republic. An area of such cultural impact is the Dominican's casual attitude to work, which also involves disregard for timeliness; and issues of ethical practices, which are not as rigid and specific as those observed by Republic Bank.

One option in the refreezing, in making staff accountable for their actions is the creation of a link between the desired behaviours and their annual assessable targets that form part of employees' performance appraisals. An adapted version of the Republic Bank performance appraisal system, which links targets and achievements to the Bank's core values, is scheduled for introduction at Republic Bank DR.

The success of this refreezing initiative is however dependent to a large extent on several factors, foremost among them, the monitoring mechanisms that are put in place by the bank to ensure adherence to the system; the reward and recognition facilities that are introduced to incentivise staff to change their behaviours; the commitment of the staff themselves to embrace the system and of course their willingness to change those cultural idiosyncrasies that could hinder the achievement of the bank's objectives. Institutionalisation of Republic Bank's five core values of professionalism, integrity, respect for the individual, customer satisfaction and results orientation is being reinforced as a facilitator of the achievement of the objectives. Again an ideal ongoing mechanism for the achievement of this objective is the staff appraisal process, supported by the continuous use of artefacts, which serve as constant reminders to staff.

The introduction of Republic Bank's corporate identity manual in its entirety has ensured ongoing complete adherence to the guidelines contained therein. The Communications and Marketing Department of Republic Bank DR is charged with the responsibility of monitoring its ongoing usage at branches and via suppliers who are so authorised to reproduce the corporate signature in that country. An indirect reporting line to the Group Corporate Communications Department in Trinidad ensures and stabilises the refreezing process where communication and branding issues are concerned.

The bank has also considered a series of staff incentive programmes that seeks to reinforce the desired behaviours among staff, including the efficient handling of customer transactions in branches and the effective resolution of customer complaints via the customer care centre, consistent with the Trinidad and Tobago model.

External

Another important aspect of the refreezing that attracted public attention, was the mass media communications campaign, which sought to make specific commitments to the Dominican public, while announcing the execution of the change of name. Bold, direct statements such as, “Somos mas que amigos. Somos socios”, (We are more than your friends. We are your business partners), and “Sabemos que junto a su dinero también deposito la confianza” (We know that together with your money, you also deposit your trust) sought to make a definitive statement about the bank's capabilities, while targeting a specific customer segment and building the presence of Republic Bank in the Dominican market. This name change campaign was followed by a second phase of external communication called, “Calculamos lo que nadie calcula” (“We calculate what no one else calculates”). This campaign used the hook line, “We calculate what no one else calculates…” attaching that sentence to important, and relevant, but little known facts and statistical information to emphasise the detail with which Republic Bank handled its customers' financial affairs. This phase of the communication will be deployed over a three-month period from July 2005, and will seek to build and maintain top of the mind awareness of Republic Bank DR in that market, while at the same time, associating the brand with a focus on detail that other banks in the DR ignore.

Close association between Republic Bank and Republic Bank DR has significantly influenced the level of success achieved in the refreezing thus far. The establishment of a standard framework by which subsidiaries would operate is therefore an important prerequisite for maintaining a strong Republic Bank brand going forward. This process has been devised by the Group Corporate Communications Department to guide the formalisation of the Head Office's relationship with Republic Bank DR and the other regional subsidiaries.

  • Force Field Analysis

(Diagram 4)

The Forces that Affect the

Re-branding and Repositioning of Banco Mercantil

Driving Forces

Restraining Forces

Erosion of Brand Equity

High risk of failure and financial loss

Poor reputation and image

Possibility of negative impact on heritage brand (i.e. Republic Bank brand)

Need for new, dynamic corporate image

Language barrier and limited knowledge of culture

Need for new and enhanced confidence levels

Loss of customer loyalty

Desire for broader Caribbean footprint

Entry of ‘foreign' culture and threat to original cultural identity

Need for greater competitive advantage in light of increased globalisation

Loss of Corporate Identity

  • Banco Mercantil-The Catalyst for Re-branding

Having traditionally adopted a cautious approach to re-branding of its regional subsidiaries, Republic Bank has taken the decision to begin the process, and to use its subsidiary in the Dominican Republic as the springboard for a re-branding exercise that could eventually embrace the entire banking Group. The Bank's decision to use Banco Mercantil as the catalyst for this historic change is hinged on a number of economic and cultural factors indicated as the driving forces in the above force field analysis. Foremost among them were erosion of brand equity, poor reputation and image, the need for a new, dynamic corporate image and the need for new and enhanced confidence levels.

At the time of Republic Bank's acquisition of Banco Mercantil in late 2003, the financial system in the Dominican Republic was in a state of decline, the bank was recording losses and the equity of the existing brand had been severely eroded. There was desperate need for a turnaround and the creation of a new, dynamic corporate image to instil confidence in customers and employees. Employees themselves were anxious to disassociate themselves from the problems of the past and to cleave to a successful, reputable financial institution with strong systems.

These driving forces pushing for change at Banco Mercantil were opposed by restraining forces, which sought to maintain the status quo. The force field analysis ranks the forces by order of their impact on the change, from those with the strongest impact to those with the least impact. Clearly the risk of failure and negative impacts on the Republic Bank brand were the strongest restraining forces affecting Republic Bank's decision to re-brand. These were however countered by the more pressing and immediate concerns regarding the absence of brand equity associated with the Banco Mercantil brand as well as the urgent need to instil renewed confidence and trust in the bank and the system in general, followed by Republic Bank's wider vision of broadening its Caribbean footprint and extending its service reach in the region. In this analysis the forces driving change outweigh the restraining forces advocating the status quo.

6.9.2.Re-branding at the Group Level

There are several factors that could escalate a re-branding of the Republic Bank Group and the creation of one cohesive brand for all of its subsidiaries. These drivers operate to varying degrees at the micro level (at the level of the Bank) and at the macro level (at the level of the external environment).

(Diagram 5)

The Forces that affect the Re-branding of the Republic Bank Group

Driving Forces

Restraining Forces

Need for Enhanced Regional Corporate Identity to achieve vision of Bank of Choice in the Caribbean.

Perceived customer migration, loss of customer loyalty and erosion of business.

Need to extend Caribbean Footprint to enhance preparedness for increased regional competition (CSME/FTAA).

National pride, patriotism and emotional loyalty to existing brands.

Long term cost reduction and benefits from economies of scale.

Perceived loss of local “flavour”/orientation.

Enhanced Corporate Identity Regionally

The need for an enhanced regional corporate identity is closely tied to Republic Bank's future business success and its strategy for growth, and is directly aligned to its vision of being the bank of choice in the Caribbean. There is also a close relationship between Republic Bank's need to more effectively position itself as a strong Caribbean bank to take advantage of the opportunities that would present themselves in the future, and the ability to stave off some of the threats associated with increased competition post CSME and FTAA. Increased globalisation would dramatically alter the level and intensity of competition in the region's financial services sector, particularly with the onset of new international financial players seeking lucrative niche opportunities in this market.

To prepare itself to take advantage of the CSME, and other international trade arrangements, Republic Bank would need to shift its mindset from one that focuses on a local market, confined by geographic, social, political and cultural boundaries, to one that embraces the entire Caribbean as one market, and sees its brand as regional or even global, rather than local.

To achieve this objective however, the Republic Bank brand must be widely seen, recognised, known and understood throughout the Caribbean, and the people of the region must experience and appreciate the brand's promise. Republic Bank's current multi-brand ‘conglomerate' structure, (akin to Olin's Endorsed model) in which regional subsidiaries function as independent bodies, bearing individual brands and identities, makes this objective challenging, if not near impossible. While the subsidiary brands may have strong equity in their respective markets and enjoy high recognition and recall, the recall for the parent or heritage brand, Republic Bank, is low in external markets and the link between the parent and the subsidiary in the respective territories is not always widely known.

Republic Bank's reluctance to re-brand its subsidiaries in the past was strongly linked to its perception of loss of customer loyalty and business, should the proprietary brands be retired and replaced by the heritage brand. The perception was understandably related to the strong sentiments of nationalism that surrounded the subsidiary brands, which were also expressed in the survey conducted by Caribbean Market Research (CMR) in Grenada.

Any Group re-branding effort must seriously consider the sensitivity of the respective markets to what may be perceived as “intrusion” of foreign entities as well as the stated desire (Grenada survey) to retain pride in “national” institutions that perform well. The communications programme surrounding each re-branding exercise must therefore address these sensitivities and emotions in initiating the unfreezing and movement in particular and from the point of view of cultural transformation in the refreezing process. This point is developed further in the Recommendation section of this study.

While nationalism remains a strong restraining force against the re-branding of the Group, the driving forces for a broader Caribbean footprint and stronger corporate identity appear to outweigh it. Additionally the Bank is aware that a significantly stronger Caribbean brand would only serve to further solidify its presence in its primary market, Trinidad and Tobago, amid the growing aggression of other players such as RBTT and increasingly First Citizens Bank, for share of mind.

Benefits of One Brand

The benefits of establishing one regional brand for Republic Bank are numerous; among them is the long-term reduction in brand related costs across markets. In the current multi-brand model, the Group incurs a high cost of maintaining several disparate brands. In addition to product advertising and promotion that are market specific, each subsidiary invests in its own corporate brand building programmes. While the initial capital outlay to facilitate the change would be high, the creation of one brand would significantly decrease over time running cost for stationery, advertising, signage etc., and allow the Group to truly benefit from economies of scale.

Standardise Globally; Customise Locally

A one-bank; one-brand approach also provides numerous opportunities for the standardisation of product offers with wide appeal and hence the standardisation and consistency of support product advertising, as well as corporate image and corporate brand advertising programmes. The need for customisation to meet specific market needs could still occur at the level of the product and at the point of customer purchase. The ability to customise locally would also address the restraining force related to the loss of local “flavour”. In fact this approach would allow the Bank to be both regional and local at the same time, without losing the impact of a Group corporate identity.

Mc Donald's does it very successfully through the customisation of its meals to meet the taste requirements of specific markets around the world, without compromising the integrity of the Mc Donald's brand. Super brand, Coca Cola does likewise, with numerous versions and flavours of Coke to suit markets preferences, while still maintaining one strong Coke brand.

If the precedent set by these brand giants could be used as a benchmark, Republic Bank could apply a model of standardising its corporate identity at the level of the corporate brand and customising at the level of its products and supporting product communication via dual adaptation (adaptation of product and advertising communication), to meet the specific needs of customers in its various regional markets.

7.Recommendations

The corporate brand is the brand that defines the organisation, that clearly states who the organisation is, what and whom it represents, what it will deliver and the promises behind which it stands. Corporate brands are made up of several important components namely a rich heritage, assets and capabilities, people, values and priorities, a local or global frame of reference, citizenship programmes and a performance record.

7.1Leveraging the Republic Bank Brand - Post Republic Bank DR

In the case of the Banco Mercantil brand most of those components, which contributed to the equity of the brand, had been eroded at the time of acquisition. Its heritage became useless as its assets and capabilities were undermined by exodus of valuable customers, an increasing cadre of unempowered, insecure employees and the lost trust of a large part of its customer base. The lack of success with which the bank was being associated prior to the re-branding, acted as a deterrent to customers and the banking public.

Given the almost complete erosion of brand equity, leveraging the corporate brand of Republic Bank, and adopting Mintzberg's Monolithic model, has achieved the dual objective of buttressing the Dominican subsidiary while simultaneously extending the parent company's regional footprint from an identity perspective. The Republic Bank brand in the Dominican Republic contributes to an enhanced differentiation of the subsidiary, creating branded energizers, providing renewed credibility and facilitating enhanced and closer brand management, particularly from the Trinidad and Tobago Head Office, specifically the Group Corporate Communications and Group Marketing Departments. It also supports internal brand-building, providing a basis for a relationship to augment that of the product brand, supporting communication to broad company constituencies, both in the DR and the wider Caribbean, and providing the ultimate branded house.

7.1.1Brand Differentiation

The brand associations that are established in the DR will help to shape the personality of Republic Bank DR and differentiate it from its competitors in that market. With its 17 branches, the bank is essentially targeting a relatively small market segment, when compared to the wider market for banking services in that country of 8.8 million people. Differentiation among the target segments is hence critical. Of equal importance is the ability of the brand's (Republic Bank DR) value proposition to generate emotional benefits for the customer through his/her experience with the bank and self-expressive benefits via the bank's employees' commitment to their customers' needs.

Republic Bank's Brand Promise

The Bank must therefore pay close attention to the various customer touch points as a condition for continued success. The customers' moment of truth with respect to service delivery must be a reflection of the message and promises being made in the advertising and other communication. The level of professionalism and efficiency for which Republic Bank is well known, and with which Republic Bank DR is being associated, must be realised during every customer interaction - in branch, electronically, on customer visits etc.

The Dominican's casual attitude to work and lack of urgency must be addressed to bring the corporate brand promise to life. It is imperative that Republic Bank DR stands for the same values and promises for which Republic Bank Limited stands. For the brand to have credibility and relevance its personality must be consistent across markets and clearly visible at every customer contact point.

Staff Training

To achieve this objective Republic Bank DR must introduce training for staff at all levels, which focuses on customer care techniques, using Republic Bank's standards and practices as benchmarks for implementation. These would be achieved through closer collaboration with Republic Bank's Training and Development and Customer Care Centres in Trinidad and Tobago. Customer-centric training will also seek to inculcate the Republic Bank values into the Dominican (staff) psyche to the extent that it becomes second nature and in so doing lift the expectations with regard to the accepted standard of service delivery in the banking sector. Training should also focus on incorporating Republic Bank's five core values of integrity, professionalism, respect for the individual, customer focus and results orientation.

Consistency of Value Proposition

In its desire to remain strong, the Republic Bank brand must provide a value proposition that will facilitate and sustain this differentiation and support the subsidiary's customer relationships. Republic Bank's value proposition in Trinidad and Tobago centres on its customised product offerings and superior customer service arising from segmentation of its markets. This value proposition must be transferred to the Dominican market through Republic Bank DR.

7.1.2Brand Energisers and Leveraging the Corporate Brand in Product Communications

Consolidation of resources and activities and containment of cost are two clear objectives of Republic Bank DR in the months ahead. However during the new financial year (October 2005 to September 2006) and within the limits of this objective, it is highly recommended that the bank draw on organisational programmes (specific to the DR and from the wider array available through Republic Bank) that could energise its product brands. Product energisers would reinforce and reflect the messages of the corporate brand communication and reach the customer directly. It must be remembered that corporate brand communications embrace a wider and more diverse audience in communicating its brand message than do product-specific marketing communications, which directly targets the customer. It also supports the corporate message by bringing to life the corporate brand promise.

Corporate/Product Communication

It is recommended that a complementary strategy be implemented which links corporate and product messages to achieve one voice in marketing communications. The promotion of product categories in advertising communication, which leverages the corporate message, as opposed to product-specific advertising is also highly recommended in this regard.

Trust is a particularly important attribute of any brand, and in the case of Republic Bank DR it is a critical attribute for two main reasons. One is the fact that credibility and trust are the axes upon which financial services are offered, and two is the fact that the bank's earlier credibility had been replaced by suspicion. There is hence an urgent need to rebuild trust among key stakeholders, particularly customers, regulators and the general public. Republic Bank DR has to become the financial services brand that customers trust.

Additionally leveraging the corporate brand across products and markets contributes to easier and more effective brand management, as bank programmes and initiatives become more visible with the repeated inclusion of the corporate brand.

7.2Organisational Culture

Employee acceptance and buy-in were critical during the initial post-acquisition and conversion stages and become even more critical during the refreezing process. In this regard, the internal translation of the corporate brand must continue to be supported by Republic Bank's vision, mission, goals, core values and the culture that is unique to Republic Bank. Employee communication programmes inclusive of the monthly newsletter, extension of the intranet and staging of regular staff workshops, must be maintained to enable the continued buy-in to Brand Republic. Broader communication of Republic Bank Group initiatives to the Dominican staff population and all other regional subsidiaries would widen the information net, and help to escalate the Group's core values that underpin the corporate brand. This process will facilitate the advancement of the Republic Bank culture in the long term and allow the brand to become truly regional. This responsibility will be undertaken by the Group Corporate Communications Department in Trinidad.

7.3Leveraging the Republic Bank Brand at the Group Level

7.3.1Cultural Implications

Being relevant and remaining so are important considerations in branding. In remaining relevant and appealing in the Caribbean context, Republic Bank must consider those attributes and values that Caribbean people respect and to which they aspire, as the Bank devises an overarching regional positioning.

In many respects the Caribbean is paradoxical. In spite of its relatively small size and the similarity of its historical underpinnings, the Caribbean islands are quite diverse culturally. In light of this diversity, Republic Bank must drill deeper to determine those unique attributes, which differentiate one island from the other and which impacts the needs of the people. These cultural differentiators could be incorporated into communication material at the corporate and product levels to satisfy the need for relevance in each market, in such a way that they add value to the services being offered and to the customers' brand experiences.

A prerequisite to the achievement of this objective would naturally involve getting the bank's advertising agencies on board with the philosophy and objectives of the new branding vision. The approach remains, standardise globally, customise locally. A conference focusing on Republic Bank Group's brand strategy and approach to which the communications and marketing managers as well as the advertising agencies of all the regional subsidiaries would be invited is therefore strongly recommended. This conference would be planned and co-ordinated by the Group Corporate Communications Department in Trinidad and could become an annual feature on the communications calendar to continually strengthen the refreezing process relative to the brand.

7.4Cultural Impacts on Product Offerings - Centralised R&D

Cultural preferences as well as functional needs in each territory would naturally influence the array of products being offered. It is recommended that a global approach be adopted to product research and development (R&D), which involves centralisation of the function at the Head Office in Trinidad, and a strategic marshalling of the Group's resources on a regional scale to develop new products for multiple markets.

This centralisation would ensure the integration of R&D into the Bank's overall regional marketing strategy, and avoid duplication of effort and cost, through maximization of results from limited research funds. Effective centralisation would however require a regional or global mindset from the start to ensure that the product that is offered is acceptable and relevant in all of the applicable markets, thereby eliminating the need for costly modifications. Centralisation of R&D would also require frequent contact with, and involvement of the marketing departments in the regional subsidiaries to ensure clear understanding and effective execution.

7.5Differentiation and The Paradox of Choice - Standardisation vs. Customisation

Choice is another major paradox for many customers of financial services, whether retail or commercial/corporate. On the one hand there is the increased competition occasioned by blurring of boundaries between banks and insurance companies in the provision of financial services, while on the other hand, there is customer segmentation to the nth level, which in itself, has brought about a multitude of options for customers, which can serve to confuse rather than assist.

With this widening of options in financial services in the Caribbean and the large number of companies providing these services, has come the greater need for Republic Bank to pay closer attention to how it differentiates itself regionally, and how it can reach the emotional quadrant of the customers' psyche. The emotional attachment that would cause customers, when confronted with complex choice, to lean towards the Republic Bank brand, the brand to which they are accustomed, which embodies the values to which they ascribe and the solid reputation that gives them the required comfort and reassurance. A complete product audit across regional markets is therefore an important prerequisite. This audit should take into consideration all existing products on offer, evaluate their relevance, examine market segments as well as current and projected customer needs in rationalising the Group's product portfolio going forward.

Experience has demonstrated that a strong, well-known and well-respected brand is more likely to be selected over a lesser-known, less visible brand. Clear differentiation, strategic brand visibility and realistic product and service choices are therefore essential elements to future brand success. The centralised R&D and globalisation of the production development cycle would support the move to greater standardisation of product offerings, while still addressing the cultural preferences of the different Caribbean markets.

7.6Group Organisational Culture- Impact of Country Culture on the Regional Brand

Organisational culture is a peculiar phenomenon. While it is desirable that the Republic Bank corporate brand be known to embrace a core group of broad values, principles and modes of operation that eventually become synonymous with the brand, it is just as important that the cultural peculiarities of the specific countries have some bearing on the culture of the respective subsidiaries. This will enable it to make the brand locally relevant, while at the same time allowing it to work in tandem with the overarching corporate culture to make the brand regionally relevant. It is the corporate brand identity and corporate culture that will serve as the link between the bank and its various groups of customers throughout the region; hence a fine balance between standardisation and customisation is needed. The customisation from the local point of view may be achieved through the subsidiary's involvement in social or sporting programmes relevant to that specific market, such as NCB's sponsorship of the Carriacou Regatta or BNB's sponsorship of street tennis, a sport that is unique to Barbados. At the regional branding level the Bank's corporate focus on poverty alleviation and youth development through sport, span all markets and is relevant in various ways to each market.

7.7Support Structures

The development of a regional brand requires some adjustment to organisational structure in support of the new strategic brand objectives. More efficient co-ordination between and among regional subsidiaries and the head office located in Trinidad would be a critical success factor. Enhanced co-ordination could be facilitated through the broadening of the Group Corporate Communications portfolio to embrace regional brand direction and management at a strategic level. The recommended structures at Appendix 6 and Appendix 7 illustrate the effectiveness of a more centralised branding approach.

This more coordinated approach would of course demand tighter management controls between Republic Bank's head office and the regional subsidiaries, to effect greater synergies, cost savings, communications and marketing opportunities and an advantageous brand positioning. There would also be the need for subsidiaries to relinquish some if their traditional autonomy in the areas of branding, product development and communications in order to enable revised reporting lines that seek to maintain the integrity of the corporate brand. The subsidiaries and their respective markets would benefit greatly from the depth of the collective experience that would then be at their disposal.

7.8Risks

The greatest risk of highly leveraging the Republic Bank brand however lies in the increased vulnerability of the brand to environmental forces and poor performance of subsidiary banks that bear the corporate identity. Avoiding visible negatives is hence an important prerequisite to continued success, as is a culture of swiftly spotting and handling all situations that are potentially harmful to the corporate brand regardless of the market. The systems and initiatives employed as part of the refreezing process would hence be critical to risk containment.

7.9Big Bang vs. Phased Conversion

Having taken the historic leap at extending its corporate identity to embrace Republic Bank DR, the obvious next step would be the re-branding of the remainder of the Group. It is highly recommended that the Bank take firm steps to implement such a change within the Bank's next financial year. Having set the precedent in the Dominican Republic and established a framework for change using Republic Bank DR, the re-branding of the Group would move the bank, certainly from an identity point of view, closer to its vision of being the bank of choice in the Caribbean.

The big question would of course be related to the most effective approach in the execution of the change. Should there be a “big bang” with all of the subsidiaries changing identity simultaneously, or should the change be undertaken on a phased basis, with timeframes of perhaps three to six months or even a year between each?

The former approach has an exciting and dramatic appeal, and would entail some cost savings over the latter, from the point of view of promotions and advertising. However from a communications perspective a big bang would require meticulous and precise co-ordination and control. The impact would be immediate and great. Should there be a negative reaction however, it would be just as immediate and widespread and could risk undermining the entire branding effort.

On the other hand a phased approach is more conservative and would take into account the sensitivities that currently exist in the various markets, allowing consecutive markets to “get used to the idea” of the change before it actually occurs. The first conversion would signal the impending action in the other territories and allow time for relevant adjustments. While a phased approach would prolong the communications process it would nonetheless facilitate cost savings in the centralised production of communication material for the various markets to ensure consistency of message.

The choice of method would be largely driven by the level of preparedness of the market as well as that of the subsidiary itself. Having considered the alternatives and the level of sensitivity surrounding the proprietary brands, this study recommends a phased approach over a one-year period, beginning with the simultaneous re-branding of NCB in Grenada and NBIC in Guyana during the first quarter of financial year 2006 (October to December 2004). This approach would also send a clear signal to the Barbados market, arguably the most sensitive and challenging at this time, that change is imminent. It would also give them the required time to get used to the idea and continue to experience even further the positive impacts of the Republic Bank brand through the initiatives of BNB. The re-branding of BNB in Barbados is recommended for the final quarter of 2006 (July to September).

8.Conclusion

The vision of being the bank of choice in the Caribbean for customers, staff and shareholders is a realistic objective. While competition in the Caribbean's financial sector is fierce and promises to get even fiercer with the opening up of markets in the near future, Republic Bank must prepare now to do battle with strong regional banks the likes of First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) and RBTT, as well as with international players that would invariably enter the market space such as HSBC which is already represented in Bermuda. The competition is no longer confined to that which is known and expected. It is likely to come from any direction including Europe and North America, and be represented by banks or affiliates of banks with limited overhead expenses, intent on cherry-picking the Caribbean's highest net-worth customers.

Arguably, Republic Bank's most significant challenge to achieving a cohesive regional brand and the objective of being the bank of choice, would be its ability to get past the emotions associated with its subsidiaries' brands and its “fears” of the ensuing reactions of the markets. That single restraining force coupled with the consequent threat, real or perceived, of loss of customer loyalty and business, and Republic Bank's natural tendency toward conservatism, has been the immobilising factor pre-empting the bank's attempts at re-branding in the past.

That there would be objection by pockets of customers and other highly “patriotic” nationals is expected, as is some fall-out of customer support and business. But Republic Bank has added significant value to the subsidiaries that it has acquired since 1992, and it must maintain a high level of self-confidence in this fact, as well as confidence in the knowledge that with its high calibre leadership and management teams it will continue to add significant value in the years to come.

The Caribbean is well known for its “seven-day wonders” and it is quite conceivable that any protests or objections that might arise from the Bank's regional re-branding efforts could amount to nothing more than that, a seven-day wonder, eventually dissolving in acceptance, approval and recognition as superior performance quells the dissenting voices. The comments of respondents in the Grenada survey suggest that the move to re-brand is expected. The Bank would do well to heed this expectation and move to make the change, identify several quick wins for each market as the change is made, and keep focused on positive attributes.

The timing of a re-branding of the Republic Bank Group is fitting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would be a natural follow on from the Republic Bank DR re-branding that occurred in May 2005. Secondly, it would be an ideal first major and radical win for the Bank's new managing director and his executive team as they assume leadership of the banking group. Thirdly, it would jolt the Caribbean to Republic Bank's actual presence and strength and would send a clear signal to the other major competing regional banks that the level of competition is about to step up several notches. From the internal stakeholder perspective, it would send a positive and welcome message to the employees of the Bank, and produce in them a stronger sense of pride and belonging that would be a great motivator, empowering them to succeed even further.

In the final analysis, the eventual success of a Group re-branding would be measured not just by the presence of physical artefacts in all of the islands of operation, but also in the Bank's ability to leverage financially from its corporate brand in several areas of business, in the medium and long term. Germane to this objective however, would be the structures that are put in place to ensure the required centralization of key functions, with the head office (Trinidad operations) ensuring compliance and providing direction to achieve Group objectives. Strong oversight at this level is important and should be undertaken by various functional heads in the Port of Spain head office.

To be truly regional also, Republic Bank must look beyond corporate identity and marketing and ensure that its human resources policies and practices are consistent with those of a global player. There must therefore be opportunities for staff of any office of the Group to seek out and be considered for opportunities that would arise in any territory. Recruitment should therefore be borderless, with the Caribbean truly being considered one territory. To achieve this objective the focus on training and education must be global in outlook, with the objective of preparing staff generally to fit into a global network, with consistent standards of expectations, performance and behaviour. The eventual achievement of a borderless Caribbean, with Republic Bank being seen as regional and a stronger and more tightly managed Caribbean financial sector that could withstand external competition, must be two of the primary objectives of the Bank's regional re-branding programme.

Bibliography

  • Aaker, David A. “Leveraging the Corporate Brand”. California Management Review, Vol. 46. No. 3. Spring 2004.
  • Aaker, David A. and Detert, Anna Marie. “The Acquired Corporate Brand”. Pharma Times. December 2004. p.2-3.
  • Aaker, David. “More than Skin Deep”. Focus Strategy Forum. Vol. 3. Issue 4.

p. 26-29.

  • Balmer, John M. T. and Greyser, Stephen A. “Revealing the Corporation”. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. London. UK. (2003).
  • Dunn, Michael and Davis, Scott. “Creating the Brand-Driven Business: A Roadmap for the CEO”. Thexis. Vol. 1. 2005.
  • Gad, Thomas. “4-D Branding - Cracking the Corporate Code of the Network Economy”. Financial Times. Prentice Hall. Pearson Education Limited. London. England. (2001).
  • Gregory, James R. and Wiechmann, Jack G. “Marketing Corporate Image - The Company as Your Number One Product”. Second Edition. NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. Chicago. Illinois. USA. (1999).
  • Hogan, Suzanne, Almquist, Eric and Glynn, Simon E. “Brand-building: finding the touch points that count”. Journal of Business Strategy. Vol. 21. No. 2. 2005. p. 11-13.
  • Jeannet, Jean-Pierre and Hennessey, David H. “Global Marketing Strategies”. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. Mass. USA. (2004).
  • Kotler, Philip. Marketing Management. The Millennium Edition. Prentice Hall. New Jersey. USA. (2000).
  • Mullins, Laurie J. “Management and Organisational Behaviour”. Sixth Edition. Pearson Education Limited. Essex. UK. (2002).
  • Schwartz, Barry. “The Paradox of Choice - Why More is Less”. HarperCollins Publishers Inc. New York. USA. (2004).
  • Thirkell-White, Jestyn. “UBS: Brand Building in a Global Market. Admap. July/August 2004. World Advertising Research Center (2004).

Appendix 1:

4-D Branding Model

The diagram below graphically illustrates the brand code of Banco Mercantil immediately preceding its re-branding and name change to Republic Bank DR in May 2005. Based on the diagram below the brand code or brand DNA for the bank is negative and appears to operate primarily on the periphery of the functional level.

Provides retail and commercial banking

Services. Assists customers in managing

Their wealth and acquiring assets via its

Lending facilities

Functional Dimension

Brand Mind Space

Social Dimension Mental Dimension

Customers do not want to be There is significant

associated with a failed ormental stress unsuccessful company. Theyassociated with doing

therefore withdrawbusiness with Banco

Mercantil the trust

and confidence have

gone.

Spiritual Dimension

Does not appear to have a

social conscience; is not

involved in social responsibility

programmes that help the wider

community.

Appendix 2:

The Republic Bank Group (Subsidiaries and *Associate Companies)

Republic Bank Limited (Parent Company)

44 banking branches in Trinidad and Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

  • Fincor
  • Republic Securities Limited
  • London Street Project Company Limited
  • Republic Investments Limited

* Infolink Services Limited

* Securicor Trinidad Limited

* The Home Mortgage Bank

GRENADA

  • The National Commercial Bank of Grenada Limited
  • The Botanical Gardens Project Company Limited

BARBADOS

  • Barbados National Bank Inc.
  • Republic Bank Trinidad and Tobago (Barbados) Limited

ST. LUCIA

  • Republic Caribbean Investments Limited

* East Caribbean Financial Holdings Company Limited

GUYANA

  • National Bank of Industry and Commerce Limited

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

  • Republic Bank DR S.A.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

  • Republic Bank Trinidad and Tobago (Cayman) Limited
  • Republic Insurance company (Cayman) Limited

CUBA

  • Republic Bank Havana Office**

**Given the regulatory systems prevailing in Cuba, Republic Bank's operation in that country is considered an office of the parent company, Republic Bank Limited, rather than a separate subsidiary or associated company.

Appendix 3:

DISCUSSION GUIDE - NCB GRENADA

1.INTRODUCTION:

Good day. Thank you for coming etc.

Explanation of the proceedings: No wrong or right answers, the reasons for taping, etc.

2.EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT IMAGE OF NCB:

  • When you think of NCB, please tell me everything that comes to your mind. Tell me everything that you think of whether it is important or not. [Probe fully]
  • How would you describe the current image of the National Commercial Bank of Grenada? (Spontaneous)
  • What are your reasons for feeling this way?
  • What would you say are the strengths/ advantages of this bank? [Probe fully]
  • What (if any) would you say are the weaknesses/ disadvantages of NCB?
  • What are your expectations of an ideal bank? [Probe fully]
  • What specific attributes would an ideal bank have?
  • For each expectation/ attribute mentioned ask:
  • How do you think NCB delivers on this expectation/ attribute?

What are your reasons for feeling this way?

  • How do you think NCB compares with other banks on this attribute? What are your reasons for feeling this way?

RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENT COMPANY

  • Are you aware of the relationship between NCB and Republic Bank Limited?
  • What do you see as the benefits or disadvantages if any of this relationship to NCB? Why?
  • How do you feel about the name NCB being changed to Republic Bank Limited?
  • What do you see as the benefits or negative implications if any, of such a name change?
  • Do you look at the Windows to Republic programme on television?
  • Does it help you to gain a better understanding of Republic Bank?
  • What topics would you like the programme to cover?

ADVERTISING RECALL:

  • Do you remember seeing or hearing any advertisements for NCB Grenada?
  • If yes, where did you see or hear the ad(s)?
  • What specifically do you recall seeing or hearing?
  • What messages did the ad(s) convey? Specifically, what did the ad(s) tell you about the bank? [Probe fully]
  • What elements of this communication do you find of worth to NCB?
  • Why do you consider those elements to be of an advantage?
  • What components of this communication (if any) do you find was not of much value to NCB?
  • Why do you feel that these elements were not of much benefit to the bank?
  • What must management at NCB say in their communication to the public about the bank, to enhance their image? [Probe fully]
  • If you had to make recommendations/suggestions to the management of the bank with regard to future communication, what would you suggest? (Spontaneous)
  • What must the advertisements say? [Probe fully)
  • What must the advertisements show? (Probe fully)

Thank you for your assistance.

Prepared by Caribbean Market Research (CMR)

Appendix 4:

CREATING A CARIBBEAN BRAND FOR

REPUBLIC BANK LIMITED

QUESTIONNAIRE

INTERVIEWEE:

INTERVIEWER:

  • Republic Bank has set itself a vision of being the bank of choice in the Caribbean for customers, staff and shareholders. How does the bank see its corporate brand linking back to the achievement of its vision?
  • Why has Republic Bank chosen to retain the original names and brands of the banks that it acquired in Grenada, Guyana and Barbados?
  • What are the implications, legal and otherwise of a change to Republic Bank - does the bank have to own 100% of the issued shares to be able to change the name?
  • Banco Mercantil is scheduled for re-branding in February 2005. Is this the start of a trend that is likely to embrace the other regional subsidiaries?
  • What does the Bank see as the benefits of name changes in the other islands?
  • What are the possible downsides of a name change?
  • RBTT has achieved this with seemingly little negative repercussions. What is the difference between their situation and Republic Bank's?
  • At this time, the banks with high profiles in the Caribbean are FCIB, RBTT and SCOTIA. The giant, HSBC is also represented in the Caribbean and is known for its aggressive and strong branding approach. How do you see, if at all, the presence of these banks affecting Republic Bank's brand position and consequently business success in the Caribbean?
  • How do you think Republic Bank should position itself regionally?
  • Do you think that Republic Bank necessarily needs to have a public image outside of its main market, Trinidad and Tobago?
  • What impact do you think one cohesive Caribbean brand would have on Republic Bank in the short, medium and long term?

Appendix 5:

Force Field Analysis - Republic Bank Group Re-Branding

Forces for Maintaining the Status Quo

Forces for Change

Enhanced Level of Effectiveness of Brand Identity Regionally

Current Level of Effectiveness of Brand Identity Regionally

Need for Enhanced Regional Corporate Identity

Preparedness for Increased Regional competition

National Pride

Need to extend Caribbean footprint

Perceived loss of business from brand erosion

Achievement of Vision - Caribbean Bank of Choice

Perceived loss of customer loyalty

Perceived loss of local flavour

Perceived erosion of business

Loyalty to existing brand

Appendix 6:

Indirect Regional Reporting Lines to Facilitate Regional Brand Effectiveness and Cohesion

BNB Barbados Marketing & Public Relations

NBIC Guyana

Marketing & Public Relations

NCB Grenada Marketing & Public Relations

Republic Bank DR

Dominican Republic Communications & Marketing

Republic Bank Group Corporate Communications Trinidad & Tobago

Appendix 7: Regional Structure to Facilitate Strategic Regional Objectives

Managing Director

Executive Director

Regional Subsidiaries (Communications and Marketing Departments) Republic DR, NCB, NBIC, BNB et al

General Manager,

Global Communications & Marketing (Oversight and direction of general corporate brand building and management, corporate identity throughout global network, global product development and marketing, global brand consistency, corporate communications, reputation management.)

Secretarial Support

Secretarial Support

Corporate Communications Manager (Building the corporate brand through stakeholder relationship development, ongoing communication via publicity and other avenues, execution of public relations and employee relations programmes, shareholder communication, website development and maintenance). Staff of 11.

Research and Product Development Manager (Corporate Brand and Product Research) (Continuous research to drive brand development and product sales, assessing customer needs and market changes, production of market analysis to support marketing and sales objectives as well as corporate brand development and corporate image/reputation research to test public perception of the brand). Staff of 4 persons

Advertising Manager (Corporate & Product) (Formulation and execution of all advertising. Integration of messaging to ensure one voice and consistency between corporate brand message and product message). Two support staff.

Customer Service Manager

Secretary to General Manager

Corporate Marketing Manager (driving product performance and sales through branches and other channels). Six support staff