Scotiabank  : Having it both ways

A patchwork of sections shows up threadbare governance.

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The feature

Scotiabank, Canada-based financial services group, is unable to impose a single global standard across its corporate site.

Scotiabank’s global portal page opens with About Scotiabank as the default tab, with a ‘Welcome’ panel offering a standard choice of five sections: Who We Are, Corporate Responsibility, Investor Relations, Media Centre, Careers. Four lead to sections of an About Scotiabank ‘site within the site’; the fifth, Media Centre, launches a dedicated Newsroom site in the current browser window. The same switch is delivered if Media Centre is clicked from the main navigation within its fellow sub-sections, where its heading is in a subsidiary string above the main navigation bar.

The Media Centre site sits on a distinctive template in which access to the other About sub-sections is via a set of Scotiabank Links in the left-hand column. They launch in a new browser window or tab.

The takeaway

Scotiabank’s is far from an isolated example of conglomerated corporate content, where one or more standard sections are actually standalone locations that have been stitched into the global fabric. Many have, however, been put together by more accomplished tailors. The distinctive look and presentation of Scotiabank’s Media Centre/Newsroom site accentuates the ‘quilted’ effect, with elements of the construction and navigation adding to the patchwork feel. Such unpolished integration of parts inevitably counters the initial impression of ‘oneness’ that is (presumably intentionally) created.
A particularly striking manifestation is the different policy of the two sites on the use of secondary windows for displaying standalone sites. The global site does not deploy the extra window (presumably to preserve its sense of ‘all for one’), but Newsroom – advisedly – does (which helps its role as a research hub for journalists).

Generally such conflicts are a sign that central governance is weak and has had to make ‘federal’ compromises with departmental interests – in this case media communications would seem to have the lobbying clout to do its own thing. While that may suit its own sectional audience, the greater good demands that a way be found to bring it more closely back into the corporate fold.
First published 25 February, 2014
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