Staying ahead of the curve – Absa Bank’s brand transformational journey

Absa Bank Ghana Limited
Abena Osei-Poku, MD-Absa Bank Ghana

The need for constant reinvention has become a running theme within the corridors of Absa Bank Ghana Limited.

Hypothetically, the brand is only two years old in Ghana; however, it’s unvarnished focus on meeting the bespoke needs of its clients and customers is proving cutting-edge across the industry. With over a century of banking heritage in Ghana due to its erstwhile Barclays image, Absa’s unique banking approach – relentless commitment to finding new ways of supporting key sectors of the economy, industries, SMEs, individuals and households – is elevating the role of banks in economic transformation.

Recently, the bank became the first in the history of Ghana’s banking sector to cross the GH¢1billion mark in profitability (GH¢1.1bn) and revenues (GH¢1.6bn) when it announced its 2021 financial results last quarter. The bank proved what was possible, despite economic challenges due to COVID-19, by recording a whopping 55 percent increase in Profits-before-tax (PBT) and a 17 percent jump in revenues.

“We focus on the basics of banking – our clients and customers are the reason we are in business. We understand our role as an enabler in making key sectors of the economy thrive, ensuring individuals and households feel empowered, and supporting the communities in which we live and work,” said Managing Director Abena Osei-Poku.

Absa Bank’s transition and rebranding process in Ghana began earnestly in 2018. This followed Barclays’ decision to exit its Africa business in 2017.  It was not an easy task for the Ghana team back then; especially as it was almost beyond comprehension to attempt transforming over a century of brand value and reputation overnight. However, Absa Ghana’s leadership team remained unperturbed.

“We were determined to leave a mark and transform the minds of prospective and current customers in terms of the new positioning,” said Nana Essilfuah Tamakloe, Director of Marketing and Corporate Relations.

Steadily and progressively, the process went on and the formal launch took place in 2020. Abena’s words on the launch day were poignant and decisive.

“Today, we begin a new chapter as Absa Bank Ghana Limited while we retain our 100-year heritage of indelible commitment to Ghana’s economic growth. Our new brand demonstrates our commitment to building a bank that is centred on growth for our people through the provision of financial resources, services and opportunities which connect their dreams to possibilities.”

In 2021, a year after entrenching the new identity, the brand value metrics proved that in one year the progress made was eye-catching. Total brand equity score fell only two points from equalling the figure Barclays recorded before the rebranding process.

Then came significant recognition from across a wide spectrum of acclaimed institutions: including the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIMG) for Best Bank in Ghana, the Top Employer global platform for Number 3 Top employer in Ghana, and Number 1 in the banking sector. Others streamed in: the best customer-centric bank at the Global Business Outlook Awards and Best in SME at the Sustainability and Social Investments Awards.

As if these were not enough, just recently the highly-regarded Middle East and Africa (MEA) Innovation Awards named Absa Bank Ghana the best bank in trade finance in the sub-region – due to a concerted effort by the corporate and investment banking (CIB) team to lead the way in trade financing for public and private institutions and organisations across West Africa.

The Awards mentioned Absa Bank’s consistency in delivering innovative and advanced product solutions to elevate the client experience. Absa Bank Ghana is the only subsidiary in the Absa Group to have won an individual award. The other awards went to Absa Group itself in three categories – Best Bank in Africa for Cash Management, Trade Finance and Finance Platform Initiative.

Organisers of the MEA Innovation Awards lauded Absa Ghana for implementing a multifaceted digital approach to its trade management operations. The online solutions platform enables clients to initiate, receive and manage a full life-cycle of products and services under trade finance. The platform is utilised through the bank’s best in class Absa Access Online tool, which gives clients a single access point for all services under corporate banking.

As Ellen Ohene-Afoakwa, Director of Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB) at Absa Bank said: “Ultimately, our role is to facilitate convenience and ease of transactions for our clients and customers. The digital age has more than ever influenced and transformed the way we operate as a business, and we are inspired to continuously create value for them. We owe this recognition to our clients for always having the confidence to stay with us”.

The MEA recognition is proof of the strength of Absa Bank’s Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB) team in Ghana. The unit has been involved in a series of big-ticket deals across a variety of sectors including mining, agriculture, telecommunications, banking and finance. Recently, the bank was a lead manager of Ghana’s Cocoa Marketing Board’s syndication deal worth over US$1.5billion.

There is a general recognition that the bank’s performance over this short period of existence in Ghana is testament to its dynamic local leadership with support from the Absa Group in South Africa. The brand is fast becoming a mainstay among customers and the local communities where the business operates in Ghana.

“Long-term brand building is a process that requires concerted dedication, commitment and belief. We have the right mindset and human resources to entrench the new brand image in the minds of both our current and prospective customers, and we are committed to this,” said Nana Essilfuah Tamakloe, Director of Marketing and Corporate Relations.

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