Setting the standard for corporate sponsorship

African Business Review looks at how Standard Bank reaches out to its customers through sponsorship deals in sport, education and the arts.

Chairs are set up in Princess Alice Hall in preparation for the beginning of the National Arts Festival. Standard Bank are one of the main sponsors of the festival that takes place in Grahamstown every year. (CUEPIX/Jonathan Terry)

Established as a subsidiary of the eponymous British overseas bank in 1962, Standard Bank of South Africa is now Africa’s largest bank by assets. Over 1,000 branches operate throughout 17 African nations and at the end of last year it could boast assets totalling R1341 billion.

In July, it was announced that the company has retained its status as Africa’s top bank in a prestigious list compiled by global banking journal The Banker. The company has received many other accolades, including awards for Best Investment Bank in Africa (Euromoney, 2009) and Best Bank for Payments and Collections in Africa (Global Finance Magazine, 2009).

Corporate sponsorship deals have been pivotal in Standard Bank’s success, strengthening its brand presence such that the majority of people across Africa know exactly what the company stands for and strives towards.

African Business Review takes a look at a few of the highlights in Standard Bank’s rich history of giving a little to get back a lot…

Getting ahead in the game

For some time now Standard Bank has been closely associated with African football. For 10 years, the bank partnered with two premier South African football clubs: the Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates. Up until last year, Standard Bank provided financial services in exchange for a wider business and marketing platform to reach football fans, particularly the respective clubs’ supporters. The move has served to make the Standard Bank more relevant and interesting for customers, for whom banking is not always the most engaging topic in isolation.

On a wider scale, the bank also sponsors pan-African football. A recent deal with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) gives the company sponsorship rights until 2016. Standard Bank will appear as a sponsor of the annual Orange CAF Champions League in addition to the biannual Orange Africa Cup of Nations. With football being so popular across the continent, this deal has dramatically increased brand visibility and awareness.

Celebrating home-grown talent

Since 1997 Standard Bank has been hosting events to celebrate the continent’s heritage of jazz music. The Standard Bank Jazz Festival at the National Arts Festival and the Grahamstown Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival nurture African talent for the benefit of a jazz loving audience. Of course, the company also sees the benefits of the celebration of jazz. Standard Bank logos surround the stage as performers enchant an appreciative audience, encouraging the audience to get in tune with the bank’s values and aims.

On the company’s YouTube channel, users can watch videos from the festivals. Below the videos a profile of the company appears, promoting its values and history.

Improving education

Standard Bank works closely with the Mindset Network, a non-profit organisation which aims to achieve “personal, social and economic upliftment of all South Africans through better education”. Via satellite broadcasts, the charity provides free educational material, which it supports with print and internet resources.

Standard Bank and Liberty together contribute R74 million of the R222 million the organisation receives from corporate funding. Through doing so, the company exhibits its corporate responsibility and therefore builds positive community relations.

Recognising emerging artists

In 1984 Standard Bank became the main sponsor of the National Arts Festival, a partnership that would last for 17 years. Although the title sponsorship agreement came to an end in 2001, Standard Bank is still very much involved in the festival. In addition to partially funding it, the company uses the National Arts Festival as a platform for the winners of the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards to exhibit their work. The awards have been presented for over 25 years, acknowledging the artistic achievements of young Africans and endorsing their work.

Winners are also featured on the company’s YouTube channel, where they talk about their work and pride after receiving the accolade

Standard Bank’s various corporate sponsorship deals combine to allow the company to reach out to a broad spectrum of existing and potential customers, encouraging brand loyalty by maintaining brand visibility. Sponsoring these events and programmes functions to create close relationships with customers that the company will reap the benefits from for years to come.

Have you considered corporate sponsorship for your business?

Whatever the size of your business, sponsoring other organisations can go a long way towards upping your revenue. Providing funding for an educational programme or hosting a local event will significantly boost your company’s public profile. As a result, you’ll not only find a queue of prospective customers but you’ll also notice increased loyalty and pride among existing customers and employees.

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