Brand Management Class Visit Bank Alfalah


From "The Caring Bank", Bank Alfalah has evolved its tagline to "The Way Forward". Aly

Mustansir, the Chief Marketing Officer at the bank is known for his famous branding done at Habib Bank Limited, where he revolutionized branding into the banking sector, symbolizing banking via television advertisements to be a simple procedure for the ordinary consumer.

Bank Alfalah commenced its operations in 1997 when the Abu Dhabi Group took over from the privatization of the previously nationalized BCCI. The bank grew quickly, and despite its young age in relative terms to the big five banks of Pakistan, Bank Alfalah has grown to the 6th largest bank in Pakistan, with 649 branches across the nation. Mustansir proudly states that it is also the 5th largest private bank in the country. The bank has also opened its first digital branch that is operated without any manpower and is open 24 hours a day.

When Mustansir was brought into Bank Alfalah, the bank was losing its brand equity and top of mind recall. "Before I joined, our brand equity had fallen from about 2 to 1". Mustansir had to face the challenge of reviving the bank's image and value in the face of the customers.

Mustansir brought about an evolutionary revival of the bank as a brand, in which he targeted revamping the outlook of the bank. Instead of launching a new logo, the existing logo was evolved into a chevron, which gives a more 3D look to it. The color was also changed from blue to red, as the bank not only wanted to stand out from amongst the others, but also wanted to appeal more to the younger generation. A lot of thought went into the making of the chevron. With just rotating the chevron, it can symbolize different aspects of the bank's new image. It shows the accommodating nature of the bank, the growth aspect, a sense of direction, the dynamic nature, and when turned upside down, it resembles passion through the shape of a heart. When asked about the challenges he faced from the rest of the team at the bank for bringing about this change, he pointed out that there were some reservations about changing the color of the logo; however, he had the support of the senior management at the bank to bring about the changes.


Brand activations are an important aspect for the team. Mustansir feels that in this segment, only HBL is the main competition for Alfalah. The bank has started a program called "The Rising Talent". In this program, the bank gives opportunities to young entrepreneurs who have extra ordinary plans but are not able to go ahead due to financial constraints. Recently, the movie SHAH is a living example of the rising talent. Adnan Sarwar, a doctor by profession, a singer and a formula one racer by passion, was inspired by a boxer in his early years. Passionate about making this movie, Adnan Sarwar approached Bank Alfalah for this program. Mustansir, who saw this passion, gave an immediate approval for financial help to the doctor for this film. They also helped in providing media support and conducted mall activations to help promote the movie, which was launched on 14th August 2015, a big success. It was through this that Bank Alfalah has been able to create a spin off, where they can use this story to touch the emotions of many, thus helping the top of mind recall of the bank.

An essential part of the branding is done through the credit card scheme. The Alfalah credit card has three aspects namely discounts, step-¬‐by-¬‐step installments and reward points. For the discounts, they have many brands on board such as Burger King, TGIF, Gloria Jeans, Pizza Hut, China Town, Dominos, KFC and Amir Adnan. It can be seen that their main focus is on eateries, and that they have partnerships with many multi national chains. How it works: the brand provides discounts upon usage of the credit card on their outlet, whereas Bank Alfalah provides marketing for the brand on their credit card platform. The step-¬‐by-¬‐step installments allow the credit card customers to purchase home appliances and other items on installments over a period of 18 months. The reward points are another attraction for the customers to get back some of the spending done on their credit card.

Bank Alfalah has remained dedicated toward its corporate communications, in which it has remained focused on media relations, internal communications as well as on corporate social responsibility. They are also active on social media to constantly engage with their customers and to relive the brand through new methods of marketing.

Mr. Jami Moiz organized the meeting with the Bank Alfalah team, as the recent rebranding efforts caught his eye, and he felt it would be an educational trip where students could add value by learning first hand how and why the bank has changed its image, and the success achieved from it. Further, he also wanted to broaden the horizons of the students by showing that it is not just the FMCG sector that requires branding.

The office at the Emerald Tower in Clifton staffs the marketing team, where they not only focus on branding and marketing activities for the consumers, but also invest their time in the training of the Management Trainees. The fresh graduates are trained with regards to commercial banking and of the systems and software of the bank, and the modern outlook of the office along with the multiple breakouts as well as the entertainment room gives a strong vibe of a healthy working environment. The office also entails a mock set up of a commercial bank, with the cash counter, reception, and branch manager's office; the Management Trainees are given a practical exposure through this.

The employee motivation at the bank is not only seen through the healthy work environment brought about by the aesthetic office and its facilities. The employees in commercial banking across the country with consistent outstanding performance are given the membership of the CEO's club. This privilege allows them to attend the annual dinner of the CEO's club, which is a night full of fun events. Apart from this, individual pictures of those in the CEO's club are also hanged on one of the walls of the office, along with their names and designations.

A special thanks to Aly Mustansir and his team for taking out valuable time to help educate the students on the how and why they have revamped Bank Alfalah's image. The students also thank Mr. Jami Moiz for organizing the session to gain practical knowledge of the importance and challenges of branding even in a financial organization.

Mustafa Shaikh