Having a mission puts money in the bankThe past year has been a tough one in the world of banking. Globally, the brand value of banks measured by BrandZ™ has declined by 11 percent, as a result of slowing growth in major key markets such as Brazil, China and Russia, low interest rates and the drop in crude oil prices.
The same macro-economic challenges have affected banks in Indonesia, too, and these have not been an easy 12 months. In the 10 years of global BrandZ™ brand valuations around the world, we have seen that the brand value of banks usually follows closely the economic health of the countries in which they operate. What has cushioned the impact of external pressures on some of Indonesia’s strongest banks, however, has been their strong sense of a greater purpose, and this has helped them maintain their brand equity.
In Indonesia, banks’ combined brand value fell 10 percent this year, from $27 billion to $24.3 billion. But not all Indonesian banks have been similarly affected by the downturn, and declines in brand value range from 5 percent for Bank BRI to 20 percent for Mandiri and 24 percent for BNI.
BRI was able to minimize the decline in brand value by strengthening the power of its brands, particularly through saliency, and remains the most Meaningful banking brand. Its brand value declined by 5 percent, a good result compared to most of the other banks, even though its financial value fell by 8.2 percent. What cushioned the fall was BRI’s Brand Contribution - the intangible element of a brand that resides in consumers’ minds and predisposes them to buy and to pay more – which was up 4.8 percent this year.
The mission or purpose that drives BRI is a desire to serve the people; in practice, this translates to making banking services as easy to access as possible, and a focus on financial services for micro, small and medium enterprises to support the foundations of the national economy. In a market with an estimated 140 million people without a bank account, this is a mission with real resonance. Recent innovations include launching a floating banking service for remote islanders.
A warm and approachable advertising style that celebrates people making a positive contribution to the lives of those around them reinforces that brand mission and makes BRI Meaningful and memorable. Its brand mantra is “Melayani dengan setulus hati”, or “Serve with a sincere heart”.
Having a strong brand and clear sense of purpose protects brands during harsh times, and positions it for a rebound when market conditions improve.
Ways to Win
A commitment to a purpose is a way of protecting brand value, not just in the banking sector but more broadly. Global brands with a strong sense of purpose – such as Nike and Apple – hold a special place in consumers’ hearts and minds for something far beyond the quality or specification of the products they offer. When consumers recognize that a brand shares a common purpose with them, they feel an affinity that runs deeper than satisfaction with a product experience or a sense of value for money. This affinity can become brand love, and that further insulates brands against negative external factors and sustains it between periods of innovation.
Theory in Action
Indonesia’s leading bottled water brand, Aqua, has a mission that reaches beyond quality water and good hydration. It has successfully used digital marketing in conjunction with product packaging and television to promote community work towards creating a better, kinder Indonesia, and the idea of “Kebaikan hidup”, or “the goodness of life”. Aqua ranks 20th in the BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Indonesian Brands, but punches above its weight when it comes to being Meaningful; it scores 194 on the BrandZ™ measurement of Meaningful brands, way above the average of all brands globally, which is 100, and is one of the most Meaningful brands in this country. Aqua has become a byword for water to many Indonesian people.