How FirstBank communicates its brand purpose through African fashion

Purpose is the reason why a company or a brand exists. It is the underlying essence that makes a brand relevant and necessary to its customers. A brand with a strong purpose not only helps the overall good of society but also helps customers know what they stand for through purpose-driven brand and marketing actions. Beyond brand equity and heritage, for a brand to be relevant and live up to its billing, it must solve a problem or meet a need.

In a digitally transparent world in which consumers can quickly find out if brands are acting on their promise, it is crucial for brands to create connections and a strong relevance with their consumers. While brand purpose must be carefully honed and aligned to the values of customers, certain dimensions outshine others. Such dimensions include brand quality, culture and transparency.

Understanding how to instill a sense of brand belonging through a clear and relevant purpose has now become a prerequisite for competitiveness. Those that successfully activate a purpose-led brand create a community of loyal, engaged and valuable stakeholders which can help fuel innovation, deliver growth, and inspire a new ecosystem partnership. Simply put, having a purpose is good business.

To further demonstrate that purpose sits firmly at the centre of its brand vision and informs every business decision it takes, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, one of the nation’s leading financial brands, recently launched a campaign tagged “WhatIf” on its social media handle. The video has been trending on WhatApp and other social media channels. The 58 seconds video emphasises the limitless creativity and innovative use that can be applied to Ankara, an indigenous print that originated in Africa with a cultural signature that has gone global, extensively leveraging technology. It vividly communicates that the function of the popular African fabric goes beyond clothing, including vehicle furniture, hand bag and phone pouch etc.

The thematics of the campaign brilliantly raises salient brand and positioning questions such as; “What if Ankara?”, “What if Adire?”, “What if Asooke?”, “What if greater attention is paid to the textile industry?” and “What if our traditional attire becomes our corporate attire?” Meanwhile, the second to last line instructs: “Make that decision today; wear more Adire, Ankara, Asooke!” – “Help our textile industry grow.”  “FirstBank @ 125 – Woven into the fabric of society.”

In commemorating the 59th independence of Nigeria, the bank made a bold fashion statement to promote the local textile industry. Upon resumption on 2 October 2019, all staff of the bank wore an Ankara to show their commitment to the growth of the textile industry. “With the Western fashion largely embraced, it is very imperative we encourage the players in our textile industry with the required support as an institution and patronage as individuals,” a statement from the bank said.

FirstBank has remained committed to the development and growth of Nigeria for over 125 years. The bank, a long-standing institution, has impacted the nation and the world through various product innovations and services. From a very modest beginning in 1894, the bank has traversed an incredible journey of delivering financial services to its customers and supporting the building of the modern day Nigeria, including its early pivotal role as the monetary and fiscal policy regulator for the entire West African region.

As a well established institution, which even predates Nigeria as a unified entity, FirstBank has shown itself to be firmly entrenched in the nation’s development. And what other way to demonstrate its commitment to the largest black nation in the world than to champion the global marketing and positioning of its indigenous fashion brand (Adire, Ankara and Asooke).

Adire, Ankara, Asooke and many clothing of African origin have become our core cultural extensions. In many ways, the brands we choose are extensions of who we are. The test of a mutually beneficial, satisfying brand relationship is rooted not in grand gestures or even in constant chatter and interactions.

Smart brands are committed to their customers’ beliefs. They also leverage their customers’ energy and involve them in everything from co-creating new products and services, to using their insights to rapidly test and iterate new features and capabilities. Capturing customers’ words, actions and insights enables companies to hone their competitive agility. A brand must solve a problem or meet a need. How well it does that, and how well it creates loyalty, affinity and connections with its customers determines the winners from the losers. And FirstBank is clearly on the path of this brand purpose.


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