FEBRUARY 28, 2008
ROHIT DESHPANDÉ CARIN-ISABEL KNOOP
Citigroup: Re-Branding in 2007 (A)
Symbolically, a corporation’s logo is the flag under which battles are won and lost. The emotional attachment to such symbols is not to be underestimated. — Internal Citigroup document1 Rarely can a new CEO leave an imprint on what a company should be and buttress that with new branding and amajor campaign. — Ajay Banga, CEO, Global Consumer Group-International In late October 24, 2006, the 30-member operating committee of the world’s largest provider of financial services, New York-based Citigroup, met at Citigroup’s planning center in Armonk, NY, to consider what to do about the company’s brand (see Exhibit 1 for overview of logos in use at the time and Exhibit 2 for an overview ofthe Citigroup franchise). Citigroup, a product of the 1998 merger between Citicorp and Travelers, both entities themselves composed of various subparts acquired over the years, had wrestled since its founding with aggressive global growth, reputation issues, and management transition. For several months a group of top firm executives served on a branding committee. As its chair Ajay Banga, CEO,Global Consumer Group International, waited to present the committee’s findings and options to the operating committee, he recalled a quip by one of his fellow committee members who had noted that “branding is a bit like interior decorating. It is a matter of taste and strong opinions!” At this juncture, Banga hoped that the research and process he and his committee members had developed andfollowed would generate a decision and not more opinions.
Life as Citigroup
Citigroup, a diversified global financial services holding company, operated primarily in the U.S., Mexico, Asia, and Europe and provided a wide range of financial services including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage and wealth management. In 2007, the company had 299,000employees in five divisions: global consumer, corporate and investment banking, global wealth management, alternative investments, and corporate/others.
Professor Rohit Deshpandé and Carin-Isabel Knoop, Executive Director, Global Research Group, prepared this case. The authors aregrateful to Global Research Group Research Associate Irina Tarsis for her research support. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 2008 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproducematerials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School.
508-010Citigroup: Re-Branding in 2007 (A)
Growth and Challenges
Citigroup was formed out of the 1998 merger of Travelers Group and Citicorp. The next five years were marked by rapid growth and increasingly negative publicity related to various parts of the Citigroup franchise in many geographies. In March 1999, the company announced three acquisitions (the credit card business from Mellon Bank; a $558million loan portfolio and 128 consumer finance branch offices from Associates First Capital; and a consumer finance company based in Chile called Financiero Atlas) which significantly strengthened its position in consumer lending. The 2000 $2.2 billion acquisition of Schroder, an investment banking and asset management firm, doubled Citigroup’s investment banking and equities business in Europe....