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The Branded Spectrum

12 May

Bank logos and their nationalistic colours

By Jason Allen

Take a second and think about where you do your banking. Go ahead. I'll wait.

There. I'll bet you thought about your bank's logo just now. There was a time not so long ago when, if I'd asked you the same question, you would have thought about the bank building itself, maybe its travertine floor, or the small lamps beside the wickets; perhaps the nice people that work there. Since most of the developed world has turned to remote banking however, be it digitally or over the phone, we no longer associate the bricks and mortar of our bank buildings with our bank. We now picture the logo and the colour palette of our bank, and rightly so. It's on our smartphone apps, on the bank website we sign into, and on the cards we carry in our pockets. This is the visual association we have with our banks now.

 

Bank logos are compelling. They're highly present in our lives and they must convey a great deal in very little time. First and foremost, they have to instill assurance and trust that the institutions they represent aren't going to lose your money. They do this through serious looking graphics, plain word marks, and above all, colour.

 

The most popular way for a bank logo to present itself as trustworthy is by utilizing the national colours of its respective country. Using colours associated with a country makes the bank feel larger than a mere company, as if it's part of the national culture, and thus seemingly infallible. Nationalistic colours help to convince people that they're keeping their money at home, and aiding their own national economy rather than those of other countries. Of the ten largest banks in the United States, only one of them doesn't employ red or blue in its logo. All of the others use either one or both of these colours, and a few – US Bank, Bank of America, Citibank – use red, white and blue. (Hello, nationalism.)

 

 usbank      

citibank

 

 

bankamerica

 

Likewise, of the ten largest banks in Europe, only two of their logos do not employ national colours of their respective host countries; BNP Paribas from France uses black and green, while Deutsche Bank uses navy blue, (a highly trustworthy colour of its own merit.) Some interesting examples of nationalistic bank logos and colours include Royal Bank of Scotland: navy blue; Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi: a red rising sun; and very notably, ING Group: a gorgeous, patriotic orange, (pictured above), which was on full display last week when the country's new king, Willem-Alexander was invested.


   BNP Paribas logo deutschebank

 

scotland

bank of tokyo-mitsubishi

 

In 2007, American institutions Mellon Bank (founded in 1869) and The Bank of New York (founded in 1784 and the oldest bank in America) merged to become Bank of New York Mellon. This new financial player needed to represent itself for the global market, rather than just the American one, so eschewed nationalism entirely by turning to a palette associated with no country – silver and gold, (which is admittedly, an ideal palette for a company that deals in money.)

 

Just last week, the American branch of ING announced it was changing its name to Voya – a highly expressive, made-up name based on the word 'voyage'. Interestingly, the new bank opted to retain the Dutch orange that ING had become known for – a very un-American banking colour.

 

  BNYMellon voya

 

These two examples – BNY Mellon and Voya – illustrate something notable. I believe we're seeing the beginning of a shift in how banks are represented visually. As they continue the trend toward becoming less associated with a physical place, and more so with a globally accessed, virtual presence, we're going to see more of them come out with unconventional palettes – colours not at all meant to be associated with a country, but rather with a brand expression and experience, making our daily lives just a bit more colourful (and global) than they are now.

 

For more on Jason Allen and his works check out his website www.jasonallen.ca

 

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