Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has announced that it plans a major rebrand later this year as it seeks to position itself as purpose-led bank that balances the interests of shareholders with those of wider society.

The Edinburgh-based bank had to be bailed out by the British government during the financial crisis of 2008 and it has struggled ever since to rebuild its reputation despite a recent return to profitability.

Last week, RBS reported an operating profit before tax of £4.2bn for 2019 – and an attributable profit of £3.1bn – at the same time as the company outlined plans for a rebrand and strategic overhaul under the direction of new CEO Alison Rose, who declared the results to be the “start of a new era” for the bank.

“The way people live their lives has changed,” she said. “Their expectations of companies are changing too; looking for us to deliver not only financial performance but a positive contribution to society; benefitting customers and communities as well as shareholders. The future of this bank depends on us successfully delivering on both.”

The planned changes will see RBS Group renamed NatWest Group, after the name of its biggest consumer brand that accounts for around 80% of its total revenue, although the 293-year-old RBS name will continue to be used for its retail banks in Scotland, the Financial Times reported.

According to The Scotsman, that could prove controversial for some people in Scotland because NatWest is a brand largely associated with England.

Nevertheless, the bank, which is still 62% owned by the taxpayer, appears determined to demote the RBS brand, although other brands in its portfolio, including private bank Coutts and Ulster Bank, will remain unchanged.

Beyond its rebranding plans, RBS confirmed that it intends to almost halve the size of its NatWest Markets investment banking business while it also announced the retirement of CMO David Wheldon.

And turning to its purpose-led ambitions, Marketing Week reported that RBS has teamed up with not-for-profit A Blueprint for Better Business, which recommends the new NatWest Group concentrates on three main areas.

These relate to tackling the barriers to starting a business, improving financial capability and confidence for consumers, and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy.

“We are determined to not just play our part, but to lead on the collaboration and co-operation that is so critical to influencing the transition to a low carbon economy,” said Rose.

Sourced from RBS, Financial Times, Scotsman, Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff