Digital Marketing as a prominent pillar of our strategy

Brand and marketing are essential components for any organisation for a mass acceptability of their products and services and to get connected to the people/clients. In this era of digital transformation, digital marketing has leveraged the products and services with optimum attention of clients as well as prospective ones. In this context, the HRM caught up with Bisal Subedi, Brand & Marketing (Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing) Manager at Standard Chartered Bank Nepal to learn the new dimensions of brand and marketing. Excerpts:

Q: How is Standard Chartered Bank positioning its brand in Nepal?
A: Standard Chartered as an international bank has a strong brand presence globally. Globally, we are a leading international banking group with a 160-year history in some of the world’s most dynamic markets. Our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, here for good. Our brand positioning is aligned with the strategic priorities of the bank in Nepal. Being the only international bank, Standard Chartered is usually considered a bank only for the crème de la crème of society. But what we always try to reinforce is that yes, we are an international bank but local as well. We are listed in the Nepal Stock Exchange and have almost 30% local Nepali shareholding. We have products which cater to the needs of different strata of society. We are also digital and agile with some of the leading tech capabilities especially in corporate banking. So, our brand narrative is to change this legacy driven perspective about the bank, it is to tell people that we are an agile bank, we have digital capabilities, we are open to people, we are here to do business, serve our customers and do elevate the brand of the country as a whole in the global financial arena as we are the only international bank in Nepal.

We are here in Nepal for a unique purpose, our operating model is different, and our banking strategy is different. We have a network which enables our clients to expand their footprint internationally and we can facilitate bringing in international companies to Nepal along with technical expertise like our digital capabilities and other banking best practices that we bring in from our network are not available otherwise locally. We also have been leveraging on the bank’s partnership with Liverpool Football Club (LFC) as Nepal has a huge football fan base. The bank follows global standards in every activity/communication/creative/association and anything where the brand is associated.

Q: What makes people feel different while choosing Standard Chartered Bank?
A: Standard Chartered Bank Nepal Limited (SCBNL) is a human bank, where every client is equally special to us. It is the only international bank currently operating in Nepal which brings a unique advantage for us to capitalise on our global presence and bring in best practices.  It is also the only bank in Nepal accredited with ICRANP-IR AAA rating by ICRA Nepal as the safest bank regarding timely servicing of financial obligations. The products and services we offer are of global standards albeit with a local flavour. Not just for clients, even our employees are entitled to global benefits like five working days, 140-day parental leave, etc to name a few.

Q: How do you relate the products with choices/preferences of the clients?
A: The products and services offered in Nepal are designed as per our global standards, however, we have always stepped forward to customise them locally as per the needs and requirements of the local market and we endeavour to bring in best global practices. The international digital platforms, Straight 2 Bank and Application Programming Interface, are still unique with us and have made the life of our clients very comfortable with digital enablers.

Q: Digital innovations have eased the way business entities conduct their branding and marketing campaigns in many ways? How has SCBNL been utilising it?
A: With the virtue of being the international bank we have the privilege to import global technologies which are tested and proven provided the required infrastructure for an ecosystem is available locally. Tech is ever evolving so we too have to update ourselves on the digital arena and work at the same pace. Therefore, the bank has been using advanced digital channels both internally and externally for effective and efficient marketing activities.

Q: How effective is digital marketing in your experience?
A: SCBNL has been using digital marketing as a prominent pillar of our strategy and all our media placements are in line with global best practices and directed towards our targeted client groups. The beauty of digital marketing is the effectiveness and measurement; we can get the result/value of every dollar we have invested.

Q: What are the major differences you have experienced while campaigning with traditional media and digital media platforms?
A: Traditional media has been an established medium while digital media platforms have taken the world by storm and are ever evolving. Traditional media is still effective in a country like ours as the audience consumption is still there, but digital media is catching up at a very fast pace and it is also prone to sudden uncertainties. For instance, TikTok which was once a sensation has no space in Nepal today. So, it is a challenge as well as an opportunity to be rational, agile, practical and strategise accordingly.

Q: The financing activities of banks play a crucial role in advancing national development goals and priorities. In this context, how does Standard Chartered Bank strategically design products that align with critical objectives such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting a green climate, and reducing emissions? Furthermore, how does the bank effectively communicate and resonate these purpose-driven products with its clients?
A: As a leading cross-border bank, we believe we have a unique role to play in facilitating a just transition to net zero carbon emissions and we are committed to playing our part. We plan to reach net zero carbon emissions in our own operations by 2025 and in our financing activity by 2050 globally.

Over the past years, we have demonstrated that we can be a profitable, purpose-led company that is here for good. We believe our unique history, core capabilities, diverse footprint and international reputation gives Standard Chartered the potential to be a leading disruptor, innovator and champion of change. The world is facing unprecedented challenges, which is why there has never been a more important time for the bank to lean into this moment and accelerate change and transformation. To this end, we kicked off the next phase of our transformation journey in 2021, taking a stand for climate change, wider inclusion and greater globalisation, by partnering with our regulators, clients and the industry.

Q: As an international bank, how frequently does Standard Chartered Bank host events aimed at disseminating cutting-edge global practices and highlighting emerging trends in the field of financing? For instance, have you observed events like the Blended Finance Conference or the International Conference on Financing for Nepal?
A: We are proud and delighted to have spearheaded the International Conference (2023) on Financing for Nepal conducted on macroeconomics of investment, legal, institutional and implementation arrangements related to investment, tools and scope of financing in Nepal along with resource mobilisation and disruption prevention on 2023.

We have a periodic Correspondent Banking Academy which is held where the bank with national and international resource emphasises the importance of protecting the sanctity of the financial system from different perspectives and the bank shares the global best practices for combating financial crime risk.
We conduct Knowledge Sharing Session for our industry counterparts and regulators on pertinent global topics, for example the recent one was on blockchain technology. We conduct periodic Global Research Briefings on macro-economic trends by economists (our global experts) for our clients.

Q: As part of the brand promotion efforts, how does Standard Chartered Bank strategically leverage events and sponsorships to enhance brand visibility and resonance? What specific approaches do you adopt to ensure that these opportunities contribute effectively to the brand’s success?
A: We endeavour to associate and collaborate with brands or initiatives which resonate with our brand values and strategic priorities therefore you may not find us omnipresent. The standards and policies as well as our approval chain in the Standard Chartered region specialising in this domain guide us to scrutinise the proposals we receive and recommend accordingly.

(Note: Thoughts expressed by Subedi are personal and do not represent official organisational view)

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