Corporate Identity Requires Simplistic and Convincing Messages – Aliyu MaÁji Head of Corporate Affairs Unity Bank
After unveiling their new visual identity meant to reposition the bank in a refreshing and invigorating manner, with the aim of setting the pace in redefining industry standards, the Head of Corporate Affairs of Unity Bank, Mal. Aliyu Ma’aji advocates simplistic communication strategies devoid of screaming messages for successful campaigns. He granted this interview to some media houses in Abuja…
 How do you see the rebranding campaign of financial institutions in Nigeria?
Unlike what obtains in other countries, it is only in Nigeria that banks engage in screaming messages in the bid to be market leaders when they simple convincing and persuasive messages for their target audiences. Innovative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies can be applied for positive impacts
What is new about Unity Bank new Brand?
The new corporate signature, colour schemes and changes in the architecture of business premises, are meant to create natural warmth, which will dilute the rigid seriousness that is peculiar to most business premises while reiterating the core values in order to strengthen the bond with our customers and shareholders.
What is the benefit to the customers?
All the efforts being put into rebranding the bank are geared towards optimising customers’ satisfaction through world-class service delivery, in a two-way approach of top-bottom and bottom-top directions that ensure the customers and the bank succeed. Though the bank is modifying and refreshing to keep pace with a dynamic society, it will not lose its heritage of trust, accountability and environmental responsibility. as we introduce our new corporate signature and colour schemes- the new embodiment of our distinctive attributes and principles, we consider it imperative to reiterate our core values in order to strengthen our bond with our customers and stakeholders. Our rebranding will result in significant changes to the architecture of our business premises nation-wide. Today, our new corporate signature and colour schemes have come to symbolise these values as well as the new thinking behind our technology driven approach to simplified banking. They further demonstrate in a refreshing and invigorating way our commitment to meaningful partnerships with our stakeholders.
Does the new concept affect your employees?
We are injecting more practical meaning into our business values by embedding our new thinking in the minds our employees. We believe that the behaviour of our people at the point of service will define our reputation. This in turn will impact on the success of our business. Our acculturation process was conceived to communicate the new brand values across board, establish clear line-of-sight between our daily operations and the vision of the entire business. In this regard, we have established veritable monitoring processes and platforms for continuous training of our employees to ensure long-term sustainability. Our new corporate identity signify the strength of real values as forms, shapes and colours that will stand as human innovation and talent geared at transforming and presenting symbols of our enduring promises to our customers of service that will exceed the expectations.
How do you intend to take the bank to new height?
We are introducing new brand essence, new brand value, this is the way we believe we will take the bank to greater heights by looking at the opportunities in the market and looking at the stakeholders, customers segmentation and the diversity of the need of the customers, and looking at what is it we have not been doing previously that we will be doing now. In terms of optimising customers relationship, expanding our business network, entrenching our values and getting the best out of our people, in terms of driving and developing competent in our people. So that they seize the opportunity in the market and ensure that they build a sustainable business that will last and last. And I believe and the chairman of this bank believes this is the surest way we can achieve our longterm objective as a business.
There is a misconception out there about our corporate identity. What can you say on that?
At Unity Bank, we recognised that all these things are the tangible values that you can see but there are intangible values that have to be associated with our brand for people to understand and appreciate and what our brand should reflect. A brand grabs much of its strength from the quality of service that he is able to deliver, and how its employees are able to uphold those values that the organisation will like to be associated with. A brand, usually most people do not understand, but we do in Unity Bank. It is not only about the assets, the real assets are the intangible attributes that have to do with values, the behaviour, conduct and the quality of service delivered. These are what we are doing, we are impressing this kind of attitude from the top-bottom, and from bottom-top, so that everybody will live up to its expectation and live up to its brand values and delivering the brand promise.
How was the bidding process for this new corporate image?
To ensure that the organisation gets the best in its communication strategies, after a rigorous bidding process, a company in South Africa won the bidding to come up with the strategies for the branding communication strategies.  We told them our challenges and the opportunities Unity bank can seize, and how we can change and improve perception, embed new values, optimise customers satisfaction, through world class service delivery.
So now how are you taking the process?
The branding project is being done with being responsible to the society by taking into consideration the economic base of the environment each branch. The branches’ architecture will not all be identical in all the locations. And in line with this, the design of the branches has been segmented into urban, semi-urban and rural. Customers will get the same kind of service experience no matter the location, whether Ikeja or a rural community in Kano.
Can you explain some of the concept tools in the branding project?
The special effect created in the connectivity between the U and the N in the writing of the name of the bank is about the bond between the bank and all its stakeholders, internal or external. This is the new Unity bank and what it means is that there is this kind of connection between the U and the N. Initially one of the things we have been rattling with as a bank has been the perception that Unity banks is talking about the unity of Nigeria, that is not surprising, taking into cognisance that our colour even has more resemblance to the national flag, the green is the Nigeria green. The unity, because of the diversity of the 9 banks that came together to form Unity bank, from the East, South, West and North. But people assume that Unity bank has to do with the unity of the Nigerian nation. Of course, we are Nigerians and we cannot run away from the environment where we are operating, but the primary objective of the unity is creating a bond with the customers and the bank. It has to do with our commitment to partnership, with the fact that if we walk together, the customers and the bank, there will be success for us, as a bank and you as a business man, trying to achieve your business objectives through your relationship with us.
What about the lemon green colour?
The lemon green colour is more contemporary, it has to do more with the environment, refreshing, and it is something new and it is something that is actually impactful in outlook. Of course there is this environment element taking into cognisance the reality on ground that everybody is seeing green and the fact is that our collective responsibility becoming success in determining visually by a commitment to social and environmental responsibility, commitment to best practices and aggressive drive to business growth and sustainable business practices. And this lemon green and grass formed the element that we want to be identified with. And as I said earlier, that the brand is not only the logo but the colour schemes, also have to communicate some intangible attributes that this organisation will like to be associated with, and the strength of the graphite, and the contemporariness and the freshness of the lemon green.
There is still strong public perception of Unity Bank as a Northern Bank?

In the past, there is this perception that Unity bank is a northern bank. I usually do not know why these people think this way because it was Citibank that changed to Unity Bank and the rest of the ones that merged with the group also followed suit and merged with the group. I also like to remember that the Bank of the North was one of the last to join the group of nine, but everybody looks up and say it is the Bank of the North. And there is actually nothing in being Bank of the North but the perception is that oh, there is so much association with the Bank of the North with conservatism. Oh they are conservative, they are not contemporary, and that is why we are actually changing that notion, because we cannot achieve our long term objective without being able to move along with the time.



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