Royal Bank of Scotland : Explaining your company's recent past

A page promoting the UK bank’s ‘turnaround story’ since the 2008 financial crisis is notable but could go much further

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The feature

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the UK bank bailed out by the government in October 2008, has marked the 10-year anniversary of the financial crisis with a page on its corporate website, ‘The bank we’re becoming’.

Prominently signposted on the home page banner and in the dropdown menu under ‘About us’, the page contains: a link to a speech by its Chairman, a brief introduction, video, infographic timeline and table of then-and-now financial figures. Visitors must scroll to see most of the material, but there are jump links at the top for the introduction, the timeline and the data table.

The takeaway

The 10-year anniversary of the government bailout of RBS – in 2008 it was the world’s largest bank – has received a lot of attention in the UK media, so it would have been hard for the company to ignore the issue completely on its website.

Hard to ignore, but not impossible, since other companies facing similar levels of controversy regularly remain silent on corporate digital channels. So it is still notable that RBS decided to create a page dedicated to explaining how it has learned its lesson.

It is also notable as part of a growing trend for big companies to promote and defend their reputations online.

The effectiveness of the page itself is mixed, with some strengths but falling short of emerging best practice in this area. On the plus side, it strikes an appropriately sober tone; and the video and data table do a good job of bringing in data to support the bank’s claim that it has ‘achieved the biggest corporate turnaround in history, becoming a simpler, safer UK focussed bank doing the right thing for customers’.

However, the infographic timeline scrolls a long way down the page and the data table is full of jargon, which will be inexplicable to general readers. With so much comment swirling around the 10-year anniversary, including a few outside voices supporting RBS’s case (assuming some exist) would make the page more persuasive.

The next Explain Yourself Index will be published in January 2019. See our site for the previous one.The next global Bowen Craggs Index of Online Excellence will be out in May 2019.
First published 16 October, 2018
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