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Bank Identity and image: a gap affecting the bank-SME relationship?

Bank Identity and image: a gap affecting the bank-SME relationship?

​A case of a local savings bank in Sweden


In this paper, the relationship between banks and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is studied in terms of bank identity and image. The gap that might exists between corporate identity and image is also considered in this study and how this gap might affect the bank-SME relationship. A case study research is conducted in one of the savings bank in Sweden to gain bank identity comprehension.

The savings bank has been chosen as it has a somewhat different profile than the other major banks in Sweden. Compared to the other traditional banks it is geographically limited to a municipality and as a smaller bank it is believed to be more affected by the technological changes and globalisation experienced by the Swedish banking industry.

In an industry characterised by standardisation, large-scale advantages and with larger organisations it becomes more difficult for the smaller savings banks to argue for their raison d'être. Thus, for the local savings banks the management of identity and image become even more crucial. To obtain an understanding of bank image, additional of 17 interviews were performed with the case study bank's SME customers.

This study indicates that a gap exists between the case study bank's identity and image. The most alarming finding of this study is that a discrepancy also exists between the desired and actual identities of the bank. Specifically, the vision and goals of the case study bank do not reflect the image that its customers have of the bank or the identity that prevails within the organisation. It is clear that the managers find it difficult to deliver and realise the vision and goals of the bank. As a result, the SMEs become confused as to the bank's role, which affects their relationship with the bank.To the best of the author's knowledge, few have taken into consideration the gap that can exist between actual and desired identity and between identity and image and the effect these gaps can have on customer relationships, especially within the bank sector.

Click here to read the full research paper (.pdf)

 To cite this article:


VEGHOLM (Fatima) (2008): Bank identity and image : a gap affecting the bank-SME relationship? A case of a local savings bank in Sweden. (2nd Prize Award Winning Manuscript 2008)

Financial History; SME finance
Fatima Vegholm
PhD Student
The Centre for Banking and Finance
The Royal Institute of Technology