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Rebranding of banks when integrating into the ecosystem

A change in a bank’s brand can occur as a result of deep integration of the bank into the ecosystem formed by the parent company. There are 2 vivid examples of such brand modernization in the market. It is interesting to note that in both cases the product that conveyed the new brand was a bank card.

Example 1: The emergence of the MTS Bank brand and its development

In the evolution of the MTS brand we can distinguish 6 stages related to restyling. The most significant change is connected with the appearance of the logo in the form of an egg, which took place in 2002. The logo became the most recognizable element of the brand, it existed with minor changes for 21 years, but in 2023 this logo was dismantled.

MTS Bank brand development

Historically, Moscow Bank for Reconstruction and Development appeared and developed as a captive bank of Sistema JSFC, within the framework of which MTS appeared and developed.

Several stages of rebranding a bank can be distinguished.

Initial phase. Flagship product with a shell from MTS

This stage is associated with the launch of the MTS-money card product – the bank card was first issued by MBRD with the MTS logo in October 2011. During this period, a strategic decision was made to develop MBRD’s retail business – the main focus was on the card project. The card became available through the network of MTS salons, as a result, the client was able to use all MBRD’s banking services.

MBRD Bank started working in MTS salons under the agency scheme. The emphasis in the MTS Money project was on remote servicing, so the mobile operator’s outlets acted as sales points rather than mini-offices of the bank.

The second stage is from MBRD to MTS Bank.

In February 2012. In February 2012, MBRD announced the change of its former name to OJSC MTS Bank, taking the MTS brand as a basis for further development. Thus, the bank began to strive to become a retail player, gradually moving away from the established image of Sistema’s captive bank.

The bank started using the offices of the cellular operator as sales outlets. On February 16, 2012, the bank received from the Bank of Russia registered amendments to the charter with a new name, a general license and a certificate of entry into the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. From that moment MTS Bank officially received a new name. The name change is the first stage in the rebranding of the bank. The new strategy of the bank’s development until 2016 envisaged increasing the loan portfolio and expanding the line of banking products for private clients, primarily through the retail network of the mobile operator MTS, whose brand became the basis of the bank’s name. In turn, MTS will be able to provide comprehensive solutions based on the integration of operator and banking services, such as mobile commerce, development of contactless payments using NFC technology and offer a wide range of banking services in its retail network.

Third stage – MTS Bank as part of the MTS ecosystem

MTS logotypes
1993 – 2002, 2002 – 2006, 2006 – 2010,
2010 – 2019, 2019 – 2023, from 2023.

MTS set a course for the formation of a digital ecosystem and began to actively launch new products in 2019. During this period, MTS restyled and replaced its slogan, which became “Be better every day”. The Bank also restyled its logo.

In the visual style, MTS got rid of the kraft (a red background with the logo and text on it) and emphasized more digital formats. The logo itself was presented in text format. A dynamic red stripe growing out of the typography of the new logo becomes the centerpiece of the branding.

The changes to the slogan, identity and positioning concept reflect the company’s strategy to transform and develop new digital products. This was reflected in the logo, as a result of which the recognizable brand element – a graphic symbol in the shape of an egg – was for the first time rid of the frame, and the egg’s lettering became more confident and sharp.

MTS’ strategy involves a focus around new digital products. The visual style follows this concept by creating an umbrella brand that includes new product business lines beyond telecom, which are reflected in the brand spelling.

MTS as an umbrella brand began to include new business lines beyond the boundaries of traditional telecom. Thus, MTS portfolio includes fintech products based on its own bank; entertainment services and applications, the new MTS HOME business line, which combines technologies for creating a Smart Home; multiplatform TV; its own cyber sports streaming platform; SMARTMED telemedicine platform, online education application; B2B Digital business line, which combines cloud products, a federal network of the Internet of Things, services based on artificial intelligence and Big Data.

It should be noted that the new restyling of MTS, which took place in 2023 at the time of writing, has not affected the MTS Bank’s identity in any way, perhaps it is a matter of time. The main vector of the bank’s development remains the same – the bank as an organic part of the ecosystem.

Case Study 2: Rebranding of Soyuz Bank and development of the Bank as part of the Ingo ecosystem

In the summer of 2023, the Supervisory Board decided to change the name of Soyuz Bank to Ingosstrakh Bank; a classic rebranding took place.

This step was preceded by a profound restyling of the brand of Ingosstrakh, the parent company.

“Soyuz” has long been an important element of Ingo’s large-scale ecosystem. The bank became the operator of the Ingosstrakh Bonus loyalty program, which appeared in 2021; it issues Ingosstrakh Bonus Digital cards. The product can be purchased in Ingosstrakh’s digital channels and offices, as well as in the bank’s offices.

Thanks to the rebranding, the Soyuz customer has a complete picture of interaction with Ingosstrakh. The bank’s rebranding has become an impetus to attract a wider audience.

According to the bank, the rebranding will have the greatest success in the retail business area. After all, such a flagship product as the Ingosstrakh Bonus Digital card is an entrance ticket to the Ingo ecosystem. The card is constantly being supplemented with various new useful features. For example, subscriptions to various services become available to customers. Specializations in the ecosystem appear in the bonus program – “Ingodom”, “Ingozdorovye”, “Ingoavto”. These sections include special offers from the bank’s partners.

It is also important that the external design of the bank’s logo has not changed, which is very convenient for its loyal customers. Gold coins are a symbol of stability and reliability, they show commitment to history and respect for the brand that has existed on the market for more than 30 years. Thus, the new brand combines the historical reliability, heritage, innovativeness and power of the Ingosstrakh Group brand.

The ecosystem is based on the following financial products: insurance, investment savings, investments, pension funds. These products provide for the long-term needs of clients. And the rest of the group companies are responsible for these very aspects. Despite the fact that financial products are the foundation, various other companies continue to be involved, and Ingo’s ecosystem is open to new partners. In the future, the idea of cross-ecosystem exchanges may even be realized.

Ingosstrakh Bank’s role in the ecosystem can hardly be overestimated, as it is the bank that ensures high-frequency interaction with customers. As we know, people buy insurance on average 1-2 times a year, but they use bank cards on a daily basis. Therefore, the bank strives for this, so that the client’s long-term needs and his daily spending are linked in a single ecosystem.

Obviously, the Bank’s rebranding acts as support for the Ingosstrakh brand, as an ever-increasing number of customers are starting to use the ecosystem’s services through Ingosstrakh’s channels. After all, the group has a huge network of branches, a large online business. The bank is present at all Ingosstrakh’s points of contact with the client. When buying a product, the client receives an additional benefit from the bank. For example, if a person buys a policy, then in case of purchase with the bank’s card, he will receive additional discounts on the policy or will be able to buy it in installments. The card can be easily issued online.

Also, an external client can buy a policy, issue a card and apply for a loan from the bank. To do this, it is necessary to come to the bank’s office. At the same time, the company still relies more on the financial group. After all, it keeps about 20 million client records, a huge accumulated database.

Those citizens who were not clients of Ingosstrakh and Soyuz, but wished to become clients of Ingosstrakh Bank are issued an Ingosstrakh Bank – Ingosstrakh Bonus Digital card, which is an entrance ticket to the ecosystem. As a result, the cardholder has access to all services and benefits.

Vassili KutinPhD in Economics,
Marketing Expert