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UNION BANK LEAPS THROUGH A CENTURY

For a hundred year, Union Bank, one of the leading financial institution brands in Nigeria has been on the move. The bank and its ubiquitous stallion have leapt through, for a hundred year…

Union Bank is a hundred year old.

The rich history of Union Bank of Nigeria can be traced to 1917 when it was first established as Colonial Bank. In 1925 the bank became known as Barclays Bank DCO (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) resulting from its acquisition by Barclays Bank. Following Nigeria’s independence and the enactment of the Companies Act of 1968, the bank was incorporated as Barclays Bank of Nigeria Limited (BBNL, est. 1969).

Between 1971 and 1979, the bank went through a series of changes including its listing on the NSE and share acquisitions/transfers driven by the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Acts (1972 and 1977); this resulted in its evolution into a new wholly Nigerian-owned entity. To reflect the new ownership structure, and in compliance with the Companies and Allied Matters Act of 1990, it assumed the name Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. (UBN “the Bank” or “Union Bank”).

In 1993, in line with its privatisation/commercialisation drive, the Federal Government divested by selling its controlling shares (51.67%) to private investors. Thus, Union Bank became fully owned by Nigerian citizens and organizations all within the private sector. During the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) banking sector consolidation policy, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc acquired the former Universal Trust Bank Plc and Broad Bank Ltd. and absorbed its one-time subsidiary, Union Merchant Bank Ltd.

Following the banking crisis in 2009 and the intervention of the CBN via Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), the bank was recapitalized in 2012 with an injection of $500 million by Union Global Partners Limited (UGPL), a consortium of local and international investors. UGPL acquired 65% of the bank’s shareholding and in the last quarter of 2014, AMCON’s remaining 20% stake in the bank was acquired by Atlas Mara.

NEW AGE, NEW LOOK, NEW WAYS

The rest is history as they say. Last year saw a lot of revitalization for the brand. For instance, the white horse which symbolises strength and credibility and passion moved; instance, in a rebranding gesture that shook the whole industry.

The bank also changed from its old mantra “Big, Strong, Reliable,” and gave way to a new one “Building Simpler, Smarter Bank. The building façade has also transformed to a more pleasurable one to look at and it seems there is a new culture geared towards building smart customers.

The rebranding won the brand, won two Gold awards at the Transform Awards MENA 2016 held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Dubai. The bank won the award for ‘Best Brand Development to Reflect Changed Mission/Vision/Positioning’ beating Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Bank Al Bilad, Gulf Finance, VOX, Bahrain Finance Company and Commercial Bank of Dubai, and ‘Best Visual Identity from the Financial Services Sector’ beating Bank ABC, ADCB, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Gulf Finance and MAF Finance.

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According to the Chief Executive Officer Mr Emeka Emuwa, the award winning identity reflects the bank’s new proposition to make banking simpler and smarter for its customers. Following the launch last year, the bank introduced two innovative savings products – Union Korrect and Union Goal to the Nigerian market. It also rolled out the new identity in 80 branches across the country, ensuring that its customers are able to bank in a modern and professional environment.

The bank is one of the longest standing financial institutions in Nigeria and its new identity pays homage to the past, and carries with it proposition for the future. In developing the new identity, Union Bank remained to its brand proposition of simplicity. The iconic white stallion, which represents strength and passion, is now in motion, cantering forward with energy and dynamism. The brand has introduced a modern typeface and updated its colour to a fresher and more vibrant blue. Finally, patterns have been infused to give a contemporary feel to the overall identity.”

TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN BRAND

The bank’s new technology and banking platform upgrades, along with the transformation of its processes have reduced its transaction processing times by over 20%. According to Emuwa, the impact of these changes are being felt by the customers and they have reflected in reputable independent surveys which show a marked improvement in Union Bank’s industry rankings on customer service.

His words-We are also attracting new customers to the bank and growing our overall customer base which boosted our deposit book by 12% in 2015.

“Given the positive feedback we have received on the new identity, locally and now internationally, Union Bank will continue to push forward to ensure that our products and services continue to reflect our brand proposition,” Mr. Emuwa concluded.

“Union Bank has been a trusted name for Nigerians for nearly a century, and we will continue to leverage our heritage as we embrace a rapidly changing world,” Emuwa noted.

Reflecting on the rebranding that has obviously captured many more customers, Emuwa said the simplicity is for the customers.

“The smarter means that every day, we look at doing things better and smarter than we did yesterday, so that it can be easier for our customers. So, it’s a continuum. We continue to evolve. Now, for the bank’s future, it means that we have leveraged on a strong culture to continue to meet the needs of our customers. We will continue to evolve to meet the needs of a newer generation”

By Kehinde Olesin

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