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‘Vocal for Local’ can be the driver of growth: Rakesh Sharma, Bank of Baroda

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Head – Marketing & Branding, Bank of Baroda talked about the bank’s new music video, PM’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat economic package and more

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the world of several businesses, and banking is no different. Banks are an integral part of our lives today, owing to the personalised nature of the services offered. Since the onset of the lockdown and work from home order, people have had a restricted interaction with each other.

According to Rakesh Sharma, Head – Marketing & Branding, Bank Of Baroda (BOB), this changed consumer and bank relationship is what prompted BOB to connect with, and spread the message of positivity & unity across their family of 130+ crore Indians with the launch of a song titled, ‘The melody of togetherness’

e4m caught up with Sharma to talk about the brand’s latest video, PM Narendra Modi’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat economic package and the push towards digital banking during lockdown.

Tell us about the idea behind the new music video ‘The melody of togetherness’?

The rationale behind the video was essentially an amalgamation of the gamut of emotions that has emerged and been at play during this lockdown. It is something hitherto unimagined and never before experienced. We felt the need to drive communication urging, motivating, everyone to stay positive, stay together but apart and face this pandemic to emerge as survivors. Considering the influence of music in India has always transcended barriers, we felt it would be the best medium to spread our message of positivity and unity amongst everyone. Therein was born ‘The melody of togetherness.’

How important is it for national brands like BOB to maintain communication with a positive message during the time of crisis?

Brand communication assumes particular significance during times when society is grappling with hitherto unheard of parables. For Bank of Baroda, it was imperative we reach out to our customers and let them know we are with them in their hour of need. We are a bank for the people, with a footprint pan-India. At a time when social distancing is the norm, the campaign was our way of conveying, “We are with you.” Brands like us are here because of the love and faith bestowed on us by millions of people, which is why we must use our reach to maximize the impact of the messages like ‘Stay home, stay safe’ ‘Social distancing’ and ‘Vocal for local’.

Through the video, you are advocating #VocalForLocal. Do you think a push towards local can help in reviving the economy?

We, as a nation have been largely self-sufficient, with our economy being more consumption driven. A resourceful nation can achieve anything when we put our minds to it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes that this potential be utilized to the maximum during these unprecedented times so that we can move a step closer to being self-reliant. While exports have taken a back seat, the need to be self-reliant is the key. `Vocal for local,’ can be the driver of growth, to add impetus to `Make in India, `Skill India,’ and effective in several ways like generating employment, emerging with better products thereby ensuring liquidity.

It has been heartening to see the neighbourhood mom and pop stores step up and come to our rescue during lockdown, when even e-commerce were struggling to keep pace with demand and supply dynamics. That is the power that local businesses can have.

BOB is one of the banks offering loans to MSMEs under the PM’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat economic package. How has been the response to that?

Bank of Baroda has provided additional working capital to support the MSMEs and the bank continues to support the agenda set by the government. The response from the customers have been very positive to the two products being offered at this point by the bank viz., BOB Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line Scheme and Baroda COVID Emergency Credit Line.

During lockdown, BFSI came out as an essential service, and therefore was one of the least affected sectors, economically. What challenges you faced in delivering services and maintaining communications with the consumers?

Banking is an essential service for the nation, hence we were operating throughout the lockdown. That said, this was restricted, as our workforce could only operate as per government regulations. Bank has taken enough precautions for the staff by enforcing strict sanitization processes in all branches / offices, wearing masks and thermal checks, work from home options have been given to employees to maintain social distancing at work place. Paperless office has been initiated and employees are provided training to work smoothly in e-mode especially on recently introduced tools / apps for paperless working, remote working logging in / reporting, etc.

With regards to communication to customers, the bank’s social media channels and website are being extensively used along with SMSs and e-mails to customers, to keep them informed about the various initiatives i.e., products and services being offered in the current scenario.

We are responding to customer queries with specific responses in a time-bound manner with quick turnaround time.

Lockdown has given a much needed push to online banking, do you agree? Did you also promote the same during lockdown?

Yes, lockdown has given a push to digital banking channels and the consumption has increased. To have the first mover advantage, our bank had announced zero charges on digital transactions in March last week only. Subsequent to that, we have been running social media campaigns for promoting the digital banking channels. Also, we have ‘How-to-Do’ type of content for the assisting customer for various process related to the digital products & services. Further, in the organic content being posted on our social media channels, digital banking products & services had the maximum share.

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Sanstuti Nath

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