How Marketing Award Winner Emirates NBD Became the Leading Bank in the UAE

Posted by Liz Dean on Tue, Feb 07, 2012 @ 10:38 AM

Emirates NBD, a United Arab Emirates bank, won the Stevie® Award for Marketing Department of the Year in the marketing awards categories of The 2011 International Business Awards.  (The 2012 IBAs are now accepting entries. Get your entry kit here and submit your entries by the 11 April early-bird deadline for discounted fees.) Here we outline their innovative 360-degree marketing approach to building the leading banking brand in the UAE.

Launched in November 2009, Emirates NBD had two objectives:

  • become the leading banking brand in the UAE by 2010 and,
  • become a top 100 global banking brand by 2013.

With the world in the middle of a financial crisis, however, the timing was a little challenging.

Overcoming Challenges
In order to accomplish the bank’s objective of becoming a leading UAE banking brand, the Emirates NBD Group Marketing department had to build a new and powerful brand value proposition.

Based on market research of over 1,200 respondents across the Emirates, Group Marketing developed the “Enriched Banking Experience” as the reference frame for all its marketing activities. This value proposition is all about providing customers with the best possible banking experience, while at the same time engaging them in experiences beyond banking through a stronger emotional appeal.

360-Degree Marketing ApproachVikram Krishna
Led by Vikram Krishna, Head of Group Marketing at Emirates NBD, the marketing division was responsible for developing an innovative 360-degree marketing approach to implement the bank’s value proposition across all customer touch-points.

The 360-degree marketing activities included:

1. Customer Insights
Emirates NBD transitioned into an organization driven by its customers’ insights with:

• New internal publications to inform management about business/brand news, competition insights, innovations;
• Regular market research to support all major business decisions;
• A comprehensive online brand value management system.

2. Product innovations
Emirates NBD launched a number of product innovations and linked them to experiences.  For example, its DNATA and Skywards credit cards made the travel experience for their users much more rewarding, and its Gold Certificates were linked to a concert by a famous Indian singer.

3. Digital Marketing
Emirates NBD gave its website a new look and feel, with new tools and content and improved search engine optimization (SEO).  There were tangible results from these improvements:

  • The bank became the second fastest-rising search term in the UAE on Google;
  • The number of visitors increased from 0.4 to 1.5 million per month within 18 months;
  • The newly designed website generated five times more leads.

4. Events & Sponsorships
Group Marketing carefully selected a number of events, based on the experience they provided, for Emirates NBD to sponsor. The 360-degree approach was applied by analyzing all potential customer touch points from A to Z.  Branding and interactions with the customers in different formats were based on this research.

5. Brand Activation
The ideal brand activation is where the brand becomes part of the customer experience. This was the case with Emirates NBD’s innovative branding of the Dubai Aquarium, a core attraction in Dubai Mall.

6. Internal Branding
A brand has to come to life from the inside out. A number of initiatives were started to transform all the banks 7,000 employees into brand ambassadors. One of them was an internal campaign called “I am Emirates NBD.” Six employees who best represented the bank’s core values were featured in the campaign.

7. External Communications
Group Marketing launched a major advertising campaign called “Truth and Reality.” The campaign implemented the bank’s value proposition: Truth is a fact linked to a banking experience, whereas reality is what people make of it—and their personal experience beyond banking. 

The results of this campaign were that:

  • 90% of people in the bankable UAE population saw the ad
  • 44% responded to the ad
  • 6% became new Emirates NBD customers

Achieving Aspirations
Using the 360-degree marketing approach to implement its new brand value proposition, Emirates NBD has successfully reached its objective of becoming the No. 1 banking brand in the UAE. In the YouGov BrandIndex (a widely used tracking tool in the UAE) Emirates NBD improved its score from 17 to 26, while its competitors stayed at around 16.

According to The Banker magazine, Emirates NBD increased its brand value by US $295 million. It is now ranked in 130th position globally, and in first position in the UAE.

“We in Group Marketing are immensely proud that our efforts at building the leading banking brand in the region have succeeded in positioning Emirates NBD on a par with brands of international distinction,” said Krishna. "The past year has been a particularly successful one for Emirates NBD with many national, regional, and international awards, among which the coveted Stevie Award stands out. This award is a recognition of the effectiveness of our brand strategy and an important step forward into the international arena.”

About Vikram Krishna:
Vikram Krishna is Head of Group Marketing at Emirates NBD. He is a senior banking professional with in-depth knowledge of Retail Banking, Retail Assets, and Mortgages. Krishna has a rich and varied sales and marketing experience across financial products and brands.  Before joining Emirates NBD, Krishna was Senior Vice President Marketing-Retail Assets at HSBC India. Prior to that, Krishna held the post of Vice President, Head of Mortgages for North India at CitiFinancial. Communicate Magazine (in association with Advertising Age) recently named Krishna one of the 50 most powerful media, advertising, and marketing executives in the Middle East.Krishna has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Studies from Delhi University and an MBA in marketing from Bharatidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, India.

About Emirates NBD:
Emirates NBD is a leading banking Group in the region with over 133 branches and over 750 ATMs and SDMs in the UAE. Emirates NBD employs more than 7.000 employees with over 50 nationalities. The Group has operations in the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Jersey (Channel Islands), and representative offices in India and Iran. For more information go to

Topics: marketing awards, International business awards, stevie award, Emirates NBD, Vikram Krishna, best marketing, marketing award