Banking institutions in GCC need to ensure consistent brand experience across all their channels.

Today the GCC is a region of young, educated and ambitious people who aspire to the best in modern life but without sacrificing their traditional values, which is why getting brand balance is becoming more an more important for any business trying to succeed today within the region.

When Branding within Banking Sector, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates is the Middle East’s top brand building countries, with the nation’s brand value nearing $677bn and $707bn respectively, in 2018, according to Brand Finance, an independent intangible assets and brand valuation consultancy. However, banks and financial institutions within the UAE still have an opportunity to further compete with regional competitors in building brand value. Emirates NBD announced its position as the UAE’s most valuable banking brand with a US$4.04 billion brand valuation in The Banker’s annual brand valuation league table. The bank also secured a spot among the top 100 global banking brands and was ranked second in the Middle East and Africa region.

Where some banks stop at just using the branding position exercise to create an attractive identity and branch fascia, Emirates NBD goes one step further. Being active in community support programs and sponsoring various social, educational and sporting events within the region, Emirates NBD supports their core attributes and helps build brand value.

It may seems at first that not all banking institutions within the GCC give credit to branding and marketing opportunities, however when Branding within Banking Sector, we do see shift with more and more focus to digital platforms to enhance experience of today’s consumers. While it looks like companies finally adapted to Millenniums’ needs, a new and very distinct Generation Z is ready to take place.

Being born after 1995, Generation Z is predicted to bring new challenges within the financial industry. New digital consumer demands simplicity, speed, value and security. According to Visa Europe report, 64% of Generation Z finds existing security measures as an irritating step while making a purchase. Three-quarters (76%) would feel comfortable making payment using biometric security; with 70% prefer to have biometric authentication in place by 2020, eliminating use of PINs and passwords.

Banking institutions in GCC need to ensure consistent brand experience across all their channels, off and online, to maintain their brand value. One of the common misconceptions is that young consumers will no longer need in-person interactions. According to founder of H.E. Freeman Enterprises, “Generation Z consumers want a bank where any transaction or request can be performed via phone, and they want to speak to a bank employee by clicking on a button. They also want personalised services for customers versus being treated like just another customer.” Automated queuing systems and call centres, commonly implemented across majority of GCC and international retail banking, will soon become an area to address to accommodate the needs of Gen Z. Fully utilising brand potential can help adapt to new trends that young consumers may bring us tomorrow. Understanding new path-to-purchase, what drives their satisfaction and loyalty can fill the branding gap in the banking institutions in the region.

According to Capital Economics, by Expo 2020, Dubai is predicted to create 277,000 new jobs within the Emirate, with majority of that workforce coming from the Generation Z age group. “Will today’s banking institutions be geared up for their needs?” – should be the key focus for any brand building exercise of regional banks today.

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