Citibank embarks on rebranding

  • Business
  • Saturday, 08 Mar 2003


Citibank can now boast of having captured a 23 per cent share of the credit card market, measured in terms of the number of cards in circulation. In terms of sales volume, the bank has a clear 27 per cent lead  


Allen Tan

EACH new year brings with it the promise of new beginnings. 

For Citibank Bhd, this new year is about building a new model of financial services that leverages on the broader product range that its parent company, Citigroup, has to offer. 

To achieve this, the bank has embarked on a rebranding exercise and has sported a new look since January in a bid to link itself even closer to Citigroup. 

The bank's director Allen Tan says Citibank is in the midst of building a new model of financial services. 

“Our history of 100 years in Asia has stood us in good stead. But now, Citigroup takes Citibank to the next unprecedented level – with new thinking and core competencies that will make our ability to meet customers' needs unbeatable,” he says.  

As such, the rebranding exercise is meant to reflect the range of products Citibank is able to offer its customers owing to the fact that it is part of the Citigroup brand.  

The red arc, which the new logo sports, is meant to symbolise this. 

As part of the move to rebrand, all three Citibank branches in the country – one each in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baru – have been upgraded to include more cash deposit machines, global computer automated tellers, online banking terminals and drive through drop boxes. 

In addition, Tan assures that consumers will soon see more products and services being launched by the bank.  

Being part of a group with a global reach, he says Citibank branches throughout the world have benefited from technology transfers, better systems and processes as well as innovative financial products and services. 

The globality, Tan claims, has shortened the learning curve and provided branches with early exposure to newer and better products.  

In recent years, Citibank's aggressive marketing and innovative product launches and packagings have succeeded in steadily increasing its share of the credit card and home loan markets. 

As a result, it can now boast of having captured a 23 per cent share of the credit card market, measured in terms of the number of cards in circulation. In terms of sales volume, the bank has a clear 27 per cent lead. For home loans, its market share is close to 10 per cent currently. 

But clearly, even this impressive track record has left the bank no less inclined to forge ahead. 

Tan is resolute that the bank will continue to see impressive growth throughout 2003 by focussing on two core businesses: consumer banking and corporate and investment banking.  

“For consumer banking, the emphasis is on credit cards, mortgages, wealth management and small and medium enterprises. As for corporate and investment banking, the focus will be on corporate lending, treasury products and services, cash management and trade finance and securities custody,” he says. 

Rebranding exercises undertaken by financial institutions in the country is by no means a novel exercise nowadays. Industry-wide consolidation over the last couple of years has given rise to local banks merging and assuming the identity of its anchor bank parent as part of the integration process. 

But for foreign banks like Citibank, the move is usually part of a global corporate exercise. This particular rebranding move by Citibank, for example, was started in New York in 2000 and has since been carried out by its branches worldwide. 

Even HSBC undertook a rebranding exercise in 1998 by unifying the various brands within the group and launching “HSBC” as a global brand. Then early last year, it repositioned itself as “the world's local bank” as a means of differentiating itself from its competitors while projecting a clearer and more consistent identity. 

According to HSBC Asia Pacific senior advertising and branding manager Anthony Lau, in a highly competitive world, branding is increasingly recognised as a vital business strategy to create differentiation and build customer loyalty.  

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