Storytelling driven by purpose

A bank by the people, for the people

Marketing as associated to banking is to explain a suitable promise to a customer through a variety of products and services and also to confirm operative distribution through satisfaction.

The philosophy behind marketing a bank isn’t as straightforward as marketing any other company or corporation. But rather, its marketing and branding efforts should be to explain a suitable deliverable promise to a customer through a variety of products and services while keeping in view their satisfaction that leads to a long-term relationship. This is especially true for the largest Islamic cooperative bank in Malaysia, Bank Rakyat, which plays a critical role in the nation’s development plan.

From left: Nizam Sani (Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nizam Abu Samah (Head, Strategic Communications), Wan Syuraya Wan Shaberi (Executive, Corporate Communications), Nurul Adila Johadi (Head, Marketing), Wan Ilaika Mohd Zakaria (Executive, Corporate Communications) and Syahmi Abd Rahim (Executive, Corporate Communications)

However, Bank Rakyat is paving an original path for themselves as they curate their brand image of a people’s bank through well thought out, sustainable corporate social responsibility initiatives that have given them global recognition.

… But rather, its marketing and branding efforts should be to explain a suitable deliverable promise to a customer through a variety of products and services while keeping in view their satisfaction that leads to a long-term relationship…

At the forefront of these efforts, stands the bank’s chief marketing and communications officer, Nizam Sani. Together with his self-sufficient communications team, Nizam has created a CSR framework that continues to have an effect on the causes it champions, even long after their projects end. Recently, MARKETING Magazine sat down with Nizam and his team to understand the bank’s marketing philosophy which quickly turned into a comprehensive look at the bank’s inspiring CSR journey over the past 5 years.

As a bank under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development (MED), Nizam said Bank Rakyat’s philosophy when it comes to marketing and branding is keeping it at a level of simplicity that is just enough to provide the customers exactly what they want without overcomplicating nor overpromising.

“I like to use the nasi lemak analogy when explaining my marketing philosophy for Bank Raykat,’ explained Nizam. “While at the end of the day a nasi lemak is simply a nasi lemak, the difference in value can be seen in the way it is served.”

Nizam went on to explain that while the products and services offered by a non-commercial bank can be “plain vanilla”, his marketing strategy uses experience, which is how they stand out from other banks.

Before joining Bank Rakyat in 2015, Nizam was with Astro for over 8 years, managing the overall premium channel business for the satellite television provider.

“To be clear, there was nothing majorly wrong with how things were previously done, when I first joined Bank Rakyat, but I had some ideas I wanted to introduce,” Nizam said as he recounted his first few months at Bank Rakyat. “The first thing I did was to put a clearer demarcation between our communications, public relations and marketing efforts for a more effective streamlining process.

Another perhaps crucial change Nizam brought on was the act of in-housing all of the bank’s creative and media initiatives. “When I came in, the bank was working with multiple agencies,” Nizam said. “Within 2 years, we ended all our contracts with the agencies as we had set up a fully sufficient internal creative, media and social media teams.”

“Our timelines are much better now and our savings, as you can imagine, is marginally higher.”

The effects of this move is apparent as according to Nizam, the speed of churning out creative materials for marketing and communications has doubled. “Our timelines are much better now and our savings, as you can imagine, is marginally higher.”

Championing autism through sustainable efforts

Constantly circling back to its core philosophy, the people’s bank knew it needed to fulfil a bigger purpose when planning its CSR activities, well-aware that one-off philanthropic campaigns do not create an impact as significant as they intended to.

“Initially when I had just joined, I noticed that the bank was trying to reach out to a wide scope of causes which was in line with the brand image of a bank for the people,” Nizam said. “However, I wanted to streamline the CSR initiatives with a more focused area, to maximise the impact.”

AutismlympicA sporting event specifically crafted for autistic kids which was participated by almost 1000 austistic kids, parents and media practitioners. Taking from tremendous feedback, Autismlympic was extended to other 8 states and participated by almost 500 autistic kids.
Autism AwardThe inaugural appreciation award organised for autistic kids and organisation/individual/ media partners who have directly involved in supporting autism community in Malaysia. This award served as a platform for autistic kids to embrace their talent and specialities while also raising awareness through media coverage.
AutismpreneurBank Rakyat provided autistic kids with entrepreneurship talent with a platform to expand their business and open up potential markets to sell their products. They helped autism centres to explore innovative ways to improve the products as well as provide opportunities for autistic kids to be part of the process.
Autism BuddiesBank Rakyat collaborated with youth community and university students for volunteerism activities. Apart from that, they incorporated other organisations namely Dettol, Mydin, McDonalds and Milo to co-organise the programmes.

After conducting multiple focus groups internally and speaking to the public during on-ground activities, Nizam’s team decided it would shift its CSR focus towards children. When researching areas that were especially underserved, they noticed that autism among children was not receiving adequate support, especially financially.

“That’s how we came to the decision in 2015 to focus on autistic children as our main cause for the next two years,” Nizam said.

Bank Rakyat’s 2016 Annual Report takes its inspiration from the narrative artwork by autistic child.

To address the challenges faced by autistic kids in the areas of education and care, Bank Rakyat launched its CR initiative specifically to cater for autistic community in Malaysia with an integrated marketing approach themed “Anakkita” in October 2016 which continued until December 2018.

Following the success of its CSR initiatives, Bank Rakyat is now known as a strong advocate for autistic kids with over 19,000 benefitting from their programmes. Bank Rakyat also won the
Asia Responsible Enterprise Awards 2019 (AREA 2019) for Social Empowerment category
Europa Awards for Sustainability EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UEMCCI) 2019 for the Best Social Impact Category

According to Nizam, Bank Rakyat’s core strategic thought is that every child deserves a champion and Bank Rakyat’s aim in 2016 to 2018 was to champion autistic kids in Malaysia. Their goals were to raise public awareness of autistic kids, elevate the lives of people with disabilities and to attract other organisations to collaborate through fundraising.

Under this initiative, the bank successfully established 4 core brands:

Tackling the hunger issue

According to Nizam, after two years of focusing on supporting children with autism, Bank Rakyat looked into widening its reach by supporting underprivileged Malaysian children. Through this direction, Nuri Nutrisi was born.

Nuri Nutrisi Showcase at the National Museum was part of the Bank’s effort in educating the public on the importance of nutrition for child development

Nuri Nutrisi is a programme aimed at channeling nutritious food to children under the B40 families. Through this programme, Bank Rakyat’s objective was to ensure each child they supported, gained a positive perspective on the importance of embracing nutritious and healthy eating habits.

Kebun Nuri Nutrisi programme at SK Convent Green Lane, Pulau Pinang ensure continuous supply of nutritious food for the underprivileged students through the installation of vegetable gardens at the school yard

Bank Rakyat was the first organisation in Malaysia to be accredited by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), Malaysia for supporting SDGs and stateless community through Nuri Nutrisi programme which is aimed at channeling nutritious food to children from underprivileged families

Stay tuned as we explore Bank Rakyat’s Nuri Nutrisi initiative and the doors it opened for multiple B40 communities in our upcoming series on the bank’s success of storytelling with a purpose. The series will be featured on MARKETING Magazine’s website, subscribe so you don’t miss out on Bank Rakyat’s inspiring journey that is setting an example for long-term sustainable CSR initiatives.

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

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