Strength to Strength

Transforming OCBC from Singapore’s local bank to an Asian banking powerhouse.

The Challenge

OCBC is one of Singapore’s oldest and most respected banks. Founded by the philanthropist Lee Kong Chian in the 1930s, the bank has played a prominent role in Singapore’s national development and is today a leading bank in Singapore and Malaysia.


Following the announcement of the deregulation of the Singapore banking market by then Finance Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 1998, OCBC realised the need to reposition the bank to face competition from global banking brands. The objective under Alex Au, OCBC’s new CEO, was to layout a new roadmap for the brand to help steer it through the next 20 years.

The Insight

The first action was to create a change culture around a new set of internal values – Teamwork; Integrity and fair dealing; Customer focus; Support for change.


This was cascaded through the organisation through a staff convention and an internal training programme. A new brand proposition ‘Strength to Strength’ was created to encompass OCBC’s traditional strengths as the SME’s bank as well as its new strength as an emerging regional bank with a global reach.

The Impact

This was communicated through a distinctive new corporate and retail brand identity, giving OCBC a strong presence on the street and a transformed customer interface in the branch. A new brand and sub-brand architecture was introduced to help customers navigate the branch and locate automated and specialist services.


OCBC has remained as one of Singapore’s most successful independent banks and a fast expanding regional financial services brand. It was ranked as one of the world’s strongest banks following the fallout from the global financial crisis in 2008.