Unless you live or work in Russia, you probably wouldn’t know too much about Sber, if you've heard of them at all.
But that might be all about to change, as the Russian company has rocketed to international brand recognition following its listing as Europe’s strongest brand, according to the just-released Brand Finance’s Global 500 2022, which each year puts 5,000 of the biggest brands to the test.
The largest banking institution in Russia, and the country’s oldest bank, Sber has overtaken Italian car manufacturer Ferrari to take pole position.
Sber’s impressive brand value growth of 36% to US$12.8bn over the last year has helped Sber climb 25 ranks in the brand value classification.
So, what’s the reason? Well, to put it simply, diversification and technology.
While the bank may have 180 years under its belt, it’s certainly not backward on the innovation front, having recently and rapidly expanded beyond its core banking capabilities to tap into other digitally-driven services to offer its loyal customer base.
“Looking at both brand strength and brand value, Sber’s business diversification and brand extension strategy is simply working,” says Anastasia Kourovskaia, EVP, Brand Finance. “The all-encompassing digital ecosystem is driving market research scores for customer familiarity, being widely available, and being easy to deal with.”
Formerly known as Sberbank, the state-owned company is also the largest technology company in Russia. Last year it rebranded to Sber to demonstrate its commitment to dive into digital services and become a tech leader rather than a pure banking institution.
With the aim of becoming the ‘Amazon of Russia’, the Russian banking and technology giant continues to build what it calls an ecosystem of digital-based services that go beyond banking and cover all aspects of life, from e-health to ecommerce to entertainment.
And in the first half of 2021 alone, Sber invested US$1bn in its digital ecosystem.
It’s a pretty good shout considering the bank’s impressive consumer base of more than 104 million. It’s not only the biggest bank in Russia, but also in eastern and central Europe, and is one of the world’s biggest public companies – ranking 51st on Forbes’ Global 2000 in 2021.
Digital services being offered and launched by Sber
The Russian banking and technology giant currently offers e-health services so customers can book appointments with doctors and secure pharmaceuticals. SberHealth, which has more than 14 million clients, enabled 1.5 million telehealth consultations and doctors appointment services in 2021.
Meanwhile, SberMarket took the lead in the food delivery market in 2021, overtaking X5 Retail Group and Vkusvill, with turnover that was three times higher than in 2020. And some 4.25 million clients have subscribed to SberPrime, which provides discounts on the company’s products.
Among its other recent launches are new digital investor services such as portfolio selection and investment consulting on its mobile application. They are also developing a blockchain-based platform for issuing digital assets, and have applied with the Bank of Russia to launch a blockchain platform for its own stablecoin, known as Sbercoin.
According to Vladislav Kreynin, SVP and director of marketing at Sber, clients now come to Sber to open an account, buy shares, insure property, watch movies, listen to music, call a taxi, consult a doctor online, and more.
“They expect us to provide products driven by the latest trends,” Kreynin told Brand Finance. “It is important to them that the company’s products are modern and, at the same time, organic and convenient.
“Through investments in logistics operations, Sber subscriptions, the SberSpasibo loyalty program, Sber financial services, voice assistants, seamless authentication using Sber ID, we are creating a unique experience where clients can use services from different companies in one ecosystem.”
Furthermore, the company has launched its own smart devices – including SberBox Time, a 3-in-1 smart media speaker.
It has also announced its first overseas R&D centre, which will be located in Berlin and focus on attracting world-class IT developers, architects and ML specialists.
Watch this space.
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