Penultimate Sunday, Diamond and Access banks authentically became one financial corporation. At an epoch-making event held same day at Eko Convention Centre, Lagos, the merging brands unveiled a unified symbol of visual identity but retained the corporate name of one of the pair, while the other went into oblivion.

This form of merger branding cuts across two strategies: “Backing the stronger horse,” where the merged entity adopts the name of one of the merging brands; and the “Best of both” strategy that saw both banks fusing their respective visual identities.

Both strategies appear to have dovetailed into creating a stronger Access Bank with an exceptional new vision positioned to achieve success in the changing African market, besides Nigeria.

Because a merger’s success relies in part on preserving positive feelings among customers and employees, it was smart for the new Access Bank to employ a branding strategy that explicitly sought to transfer equity from both merging banks even though fusing two companies’ identities may be cumbersome and expensive.

By combining the incredibly creative logos and brand colours of both banks, the new Access Bank considerably doused the fears of employees, customers and investors of Diamond Bank who may have felt “less valuable and more vulnerable” over the disappearance of their “choice bank.” Employees, customers and investors of the defunct Diamond Bank will interpret the combined identity features thus: ‘we are in this together for a reenergised start.’ Both banks are also seen to be contributing significantly to the future of the merged entity.

Speaking on the new logo, Mr. Victor Etuokwu, Access Bank’s executive, personal banking, affirmed that the new visual identity fuses together the best of Access and Diamond banks.

“Diamond Bank was youthful, vibrant and human. Access Bank was trusted, global and fast. Bringing them together to capture the strength created through the merger meant drawing from the essence of each logo but refreshing them to create a sense of energy and forward momentum.

“The diamond shape is fused into the three chevrons, which radiate in all directions to create layers around a core. “The retention of the Access typeface, colour and font is complemented by the orange logo, which draws from the colour palettes of both banks,” he said.

According to Etuokwu, the use of the Diamond colour palette, further emphasised with the dominance of green, illustrates the merged brand’s desire for a promising relationship with Diamond Bank’s retail customers, while the dominant orange in the corporate application conveys a sense of familiarity with Access Bank’s customers. He stressed that the best of both entities was fused in the new bank to serve customers better.

This style of corporate branding will guarantee that a productive relationship is maintained and enhanced with the three constituencies: employees, customers and investment community. Each of these relationships is critical to Access Bank’s success.

The merger between the two entities is poised to create sub-Saharan Africa’s largest bank by asset size. 

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“We have successfully coupled together the older strength of the old Access Bank and old Diamond Bank to establish Nigeria’s foremost bank in terms of assets, customer base and employees,” said Etuokwu. “The merger has indeed created a Nigerian banking powerhouse and a pan-African financial services champion with 28,000 staff across 600 branches and 29 million customers worldwide, spanning three continents and 12 countries.”

The brand expression is the culmination of the shared dreams of both banks determined to achieve the catch phrase, “More than Banking.”

The combination of Diamond Bank’s strong retail customer franchise and leading digital platform with Access Bank’s corporate banking capabilities, proven risk management and capital management expertise has created a diversified Nigerian financial institution with strong value creation potential.

Addressing guests at the unveiling ceremony, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, group chief executive of Access Bank, acknowledged that it was a transformational moment for Access Bank. He narrated his experiences on the merger relating how, almost two decades ago, he and his partner, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, set out to establish the bank with a vision to change the face of banking in Nigeria and lift the continent of Africa through sustainable banking.

“We wanted to show individuals and businesses across the country that ethical business was good business. Some years earlier, Pascal Dozie, one of Nigeria’s leading figures in banking, launched Diamond Bank to harness technology to help people respond to changing lifestyles and support societal shifts.

“This merger has enabled us to realise our dream of becoming a leading full-service bank in Nigeria and a pan-African financial services champion. Combining Diamond Bank’s leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking with Access Bank’s expertise in trade finance, cash management, treasury and corporate finance drives significant opportunities through the value chain.

“As we promised on December 19, 2018, we have taken decisive steps to maintain the capital strength of the combined entity and ensure its financial stability. The enlarged Access Bank has an extremely strong capital adequacy ratio of more than 20 per cent following completion of the merger.”

According to Wigwe, penultimate Sunday for both Diamond and Access banks marked the beginning of a shared vision to create a large, diversified retail bank that is modern, intelligent and digitally led, of global scale and scope, with strong payment capabilities.

“We want to be able to support our 29 million customers as they achieve their dreams and ambitions, and in doing so play our part in supporting the national economy and our continent as Africa’s gateway to the world,” the bank’s group chief executive said on a final note.

The new full-size Access Bank’s vision is built around the shared dreams of both banks, illustrated in its mantra, “More than Banking.”

Corporations that brand themselves with a ‘fusion’ of the merging companies’ identity typically enjoy higher returns, especially when they strive to do more than we know traditionally. Utilised accurately, company mergers can be an exceptional way for ambitious firms to generate amazing profit.