Vignesh Murali is an established marketer with 15 years of experience and is currently heading the marketing, branding and corporate communications at Equitas Small Finance Bank serving the brand audience through real-time, digital and virtual innovation using a thoughtful, research-oriented strategic narrative. Prior to joining Equitas, he has worked with Cholamandalam DBS Finance Ltd. and The Times Group. He was instrumental in contributing to activities across ATL, BTL, digital, customer loyalty programs, product P&L management as well as digital customer acquisition. With a 360 degree approach, he has been able to demonstrate a deep-rooted presence for brands through new-age marketing strategies and campaigns. A strategic leader who has been responsible for unleashing, recognizing & maximizing individual, agency, and cross-functional team potential. He possesses proven expertise in building C-Suite board relations, investor relations, and vertical plus horizontal business alliances to chart brand growth, reach and leverage upon win-win opportunities.
Equitas Small Finance Bank, one of India’s largest small finance banks is proud to announce women hockey player, Rani Rampal and cricketer SmritiMandhana as the company’s brand ambassadors. This announcement comes at a time when the bank is celebrating its 5th year anniversary on September 5, 2021. As an entity empowering women across the length and breadth of the country, through its various banking and non-banking initiatives, the announcement reflects the bank’s ethos of adding value to the lives of countless customers by choosing the right representation to inspire women to chase their dreams.
In today’s StraightTalk, Vignesh Murali, Head- Marketing and Communications- Equitas Small Finance Bank talks about his role and his personal love for cricket, and what is his focus both professionally and personally in the coming years…
Given your vast experience in the Finance sector, how has the sector grown?
The sector has grown across all verticals and that is because consumers have evolved. It’s all about customer experience today who are accustomed to Swiggyor Zomatokind of experience. It’s about convenience, high quality, and a transparent delivery process. With the evolution of customer demands and behavior, the brands to need to evolve. As a BFSI brand, we have adopted and adapted to new-age technology as well. The trajectory of our account opening process has been shifting towards digital channels. We have been witnessing a paradigm shift in the usage of digital channels. In fact, if you see the financial landscape today, you see people doing 90% of the banking transactions through DIY. Be it Wealth Management, Insurance, Fixed Deposits or Savings Account – everything now can be operated in the DIY mode. In terms of the delivery value, we have been using the Phygital route, adapting to the new-age behavior of the consumers.
Can you talk about your role at Equitas Small Finance Bank?
For us, at Equitas, our roles go just Beyond Banking and we keep reiterating this fact time and again. We are a new-age bank, with the focus on making banking simpler even for the unbanked and under-banked. We have been transformative in generating livelihoods for innumerable customers. By choosing to bank with Equitas, you not only earn higher interest but also help make a difference in the lives of people. My role as Head- Marketing and Communications is to drive home the point that money can be used as a force for good. It has also been my desire to transform the marketing unit from a support function to a must-have function, which I have been working towards.
Post-demonetisation and the recent pandemic have seen a surge in digital payments. How have you strategised the communication for your customers?
The entire communication strategy talks about convenience as one of the major factors. The payments landscape has seen a disruption like no other where they have made the entire payment cycle fun and intuitive, and customers are engaged with it. They offer rewards, cash backsetc. which is why you see people doing more online transfers and transactions through UPI. People are slowly, but steadily, accepting QR codes and the Tap n Pay model of payment. Millennials, mostly, are using new-age payment methods for all transactions. Even Rural India is connected, now more than ever. So, with the adoption of new-age technology, as I have mentioned before, our communication strategy talks about the ease of banking and using digital channels to do so.
What are the out-of-the-box marketing strategies for the bank?
I truly believe that Big Data is and will be playing a huge role in the way marketing strategies will be set going forth. Segmentation and localization are the keywords that will rule the marketing communication channels. It’s no more a one-size-fits-all kind of scenario. Big Data is transforming the way consumers perceive a brand and we have started adapting to that as well.
We also believe in a process called KYC, which does not mean know your Customer but Know your Catchment. We do a comprehensive analysis of the areas where our branches are present and then, send out appropriate communications. The one such outcome of understanding our customer’s wants and needs was the award-winning One India, One Bank campaign during the pandemic in 2020. We had a music anthem – a composition of 12 leading musicians in 7 languages – connecting people across the country.
What are some of the important lessons that you brought from the previous organizations that will help you in strategizing for Equitas?
For me, the most important lesson has been handling a team. People management is important because when you have a stable and happy team, the brand and the organization will grow. I have also picked up the skill of being patient, it is very important in our profession to have a calm mind.
Above all this, my intention has been to make marketing more relevant by contributing to both the topline and bottom line of the bank. To make a shift from being a support function to core function.
Who was your first or most significant mentor or teacher in the professional space? What specifically did you learn that has held you in good stead throughout?
Well, throughout my professional life, I have learned something from everyone I have ever worked with and that has helped in my growth as well. I believe learning from every individual is important and is worth it as well. For the second part of the question, the answer lies in the previous one. But, if there is one learning I have to pick, it has to be People Management. If you get that right, everything else falls into place.
What are some other activities or hobbies that excite you? What are your weekends like?
Cricket, work and family make me what I am. There is no room for debate! When I first held a cricket bat at the age of three, I had no idea that this game of bat and ball will have my heart. The adrenaline rush when you enter the ground, the cheers of the crowd and the burning desire to win as a team keeps me truly ‘alive’! We can draw many parallels between life and work from this sport. Adapting to different mindsets of people and still delivering the best is the beauty of the game. It has been more than 30 years that I am playing cricket now and I cannot recall a single weekend when I was not there on the ground.
Where do you see yourself in the next three years professionally and personally?
I guess I’ll be on the path of self-learning and making Equitas a brand to reckon with. Through our brand ambassadors – Rani Rampal and Smrithi Mandhana – and our association with Chennai Super Kings, we will be fanning out our values far and wide and scripting more success stories.
On the personal front, I live for the present and let the good deeds talk. I strongly believe in the ‘Do Good, Be Good’ policy.