Stream | SBI UK
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Positioning State Bank of India as a challenger bank.

How we helped:
Increase engagement and loyaltyGrow the business
Reach new audiences

State Bank of India (SBI) is one of the worlds leading public sector banks, with Indian government ownership of 58.6% and origins that date back to June 1806. SBI UK has been established in the UK since 1921.


Thanks to its popular remittance services, the bank enjoyed an enviable reputation among Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the UK, however, it was less broadly known for its suite of consumer retail banking products. Following changes in PRA regulations there was also a requirement for the bank to subsidiarise in the UK, spurring investment from the parent company to fund the further expansion of its retail offering and establish an independent balance-sheet in the UK market.


Recognising the need to reposition the business due to these factors, SBI UK wanted to revisit how it presented itself to UK consumers, taking on other high street challenger banks, such as Metro Bank, by building brand reputation and heightening awareness of its savings and mortgages offer.

Not just NRI services.

A positive company narrative and a growing reputation.

We established a press office for SBI UK in early 2014. Our first task was to conduct a gap analysis, identifying the current perception of the bank and then how it wanted to be perceived in the run up to the launch of its UK subsidiary. We did this by conducting a series of interviews with the banks senior management, followed by workshops with the product development, sales and marketing teams.


The results of the research were used to define the objectives for the communications strategy, identify target audiences and to develop messaging to be used across all PR channels and to steer content creation. This included the introduction of SBI UK to social media for the first time and the creation of its Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn channels.


The messaging for communications centred around “Customer focused banking”, and was supported by proof points such as simple, honest, transparent products with no small print, enhanced customer touch-points (digital and social), and UK branch network enhancements – all geared towards aligning SBI UK with other high-street challenger banks whose positioning mirrored a focus on simplicity and accessibility.


A full media relations programme was then put in place targeting local, trade, national and online media. This encompassed a product focussed approach to help raise the profile of the banks retail banking products, particularly savings and the launch of it mortgage products, among key aggregator sites such as MoneySuperMarket, Which? and MoneySavingExpert, and ensuring inclusion in the bi-weekly best-buy tables across national personal finance sections and supplements.


A comprehensive awards programme, covering SBI UK’s chart-topping savings solutions, ensured we also raised the banks profile among key media outlets and the broader general public.


With the heightened presence of SBI UK across aggregator channels and the launch of its social media channels, it was imperative that we established and implemented an online reputation management strategy – not only to ensure a constant flow of content across all channels, but also developing policies to help the marketing and customer services teams to handle conversations and enquiries online.


Alongside the product focused PR campaign, it was important that SBI UK began to steer the narrative about the launch of its UK subsidiary and how this would further benefit the banks growing UK customer base. We achieved this by developing a proactive media briefing schedule, identifying and securing interviews, briefings and speaker opportunities for the banks Chairman and Regional Head on a rolling monthly basis.


Complementing the raised media profile of SBI UK and to further enhance key media relationships, we organised and hosted an annual Diwali party. The 2015 Diwali party saw a solid attendance, with 68 acceptances across national, consumer, trade and NRI titles.


Meanwhile, the banks UK branch network expansion and enhancement plans enabled us to engage with key local media across the country, highlighting SBI UKs pledge to open flagship branches 7 days a week and its unique and extremely popular safety deposit box offering.

Key objectives for the communications programme for SBI UK included strengthening relationships with aggregators, increased awareness amongst key national banking Editors, enhanced relationships with trade titles and local media support for branch network expansion and enhancements.


Over the two year period that we worked with them, SBI UK was frequently featured in all key national outlets including the FT, the Sunday Times and the Guardian. Branch opening interviews were secured with the Daily Mail, Weekly Tribune, Punjab Radio, The Banker and Retail Banker International, with a total PR generated AVE figure exceeding £60k for two branch openings in London in a single day. Overall AVE for the year exceeded £330k.

A solid foundation for launch.

How we helped:

Gap analysis, audience identification and messaging development

Proactive press office

Enhanced, targeted media relations

Social media policy and content strategy

Reputation management

Events and Awards