What makes an organization rebrand itself? So many reasons. But the most important reason (or the most common) is the organization’s willingness to start a new era to reform some perceptions or concepts, mission and vision, products and services, management structure, and even target market.
The business community in the Sultanate has witnessed some movements in this field, two main players were Oman Air and National Bank of Oman (NBO). I am not going to talk about Oman Air (at least for now). But what created a big buzz in the advertising industry in the Sultanate is NBO’s rebranding campaign. NBO has became a role model in how to execute a rebranding process, starting from the Brand and Communication Strategy that was assigned to 2 agencies; the 1st one is a UK-based agency that was responsible for setting the long term strategies and brand guidelines, while the other agency Fortune PromoSeven (FP7) developed the visual brand. This shows how clever is NBO communications team, they gave the strategy setting to an international agency, while assigned communication and design to a local agency (and part of an international network) that has more understanding to the Omani society in terms of traditions, culture, language, politics, and religion.
Another reason for NBO officials to be proud of their new identity is the advertising campaign, starting from the Teaser Campaign that had the titles: “a new vision”, “a new era”, and “a new commitment”, associated with their new slogan “For you. For our nation.”. The unveiling ads had the same strength as well, reflecting the different elements that shape the Omani society. The bank also applied the new brand on all related mediums, be the signboards, ad templates, ATM machines, bank cards, and even the interior design and office layout in all branches all over the country. All that made the rebranding campaign of NBO one of the most successful campaigns in Oman in the last few years.
What made me fall in love with NBO is their new slogan “For you. For our nation.” I mean the Arabic one of course. At the end I an Arabic-speaking recipient and I feel the Arabic one is much stronger than the English one. The other thing is their all-new signboard design. My god it’s amazing! It has that pattern that’s inspired from the logo itself, little darker than the blue background. This is during the day, but at night when lights are on, it becomes a totally new signboard having black background with glowing blue pattern and the logo in the middle cut-out and has the glowing white outline. There is an important point that so many people didn’t pay that much attention to it, that’s after NBO rebranded, the signboards are still blue! And the point is to avoid the customers’ confusion that might result by changing the signboards color. It has something to do with the psychology of the customers. Isn’t that smart?!
Since the day of unveiling NBO’s new identity, a big wave of criticism faced it. It got accused of imitating Oman Air’s new logo and some other national companies’ logos. It’s the agency’s problem! They should have looked to the logos that already exist and try to come up with a totally different logo. It might be the bank officials as well, forgetting that the logo should be distinguished and recognizable. This made them fall in the (cross-flow of ideas) trap that makes designers and art directors suffer.
Anyway, the campaign had positive and negative sides. Not to forget the suspicious Main Branch renovation deal that costed over R.O. 800,000 (some sources said it's around R.O.1mn) and made the top management fire some people who were involved, as the cost is too high compared to what’s been done actually. Another problem (but smaller), is the business cards material. Guess what? The printed artwork gets smudged if you touch it with your fingers.
That’s all. With all respect to NBO!