Bad Logo on the Rise
December 3, 2003
I had a dream about my bank last night, one of those dreams in which I get so frustrated and annoyed and angry that I wake up tense rather than rested (or still tired, depending on the morning). There’s no mystery about why my subconscious cast the bank as bad guy; it’s the new logo this institution is sporting in the waking world. I hate the logo. Hate it. I didn’t like it when I got the letter announcing the change this past summer, and it hasn’t won me over in the two months since the new signs debuted. It offends my design sensibilities and annoys me every time I see it. I need to get over this because there are three branches on my way to work.
Four branches, actually, because a new one is going up right next door to the building I work in. This is doubly frustrating because not only do I have the offending logo lurking only a few yards away all day, it looks like the branch will open right around the time Purple Systems moves to our new building several freeway exits south, so I won’t get any benefit from being so close to an ATM. At least now that they’ve put in the landscaping over there I can’t see the logo every single time I look out my window (and I’m looking out my window a lot lately because I won’t have one in the new building).
Why does the new logo annoy me so? Some might say I have trouble coping with change, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s a bad logo, especially for a bank. It would help if at this point I could pop in an image of the awful thing before I rant on anymore, but I cannot because it’s copyrighted material of Standard Federal Bank and no links to their website are permitted without the prior consent of Standard Federal Bank but there’s no law against my saying a Google search on “Standard Federal Bank” in a new window might be in order about now to provide some context for my enumeration of the specific things that bother me.
I don’t like the shape. If I’d recognized that it’s a shield right off, maybe I’d be more favorably disposed toward it. A shield provides security, and that’s a good thing for a bank to associate itself with, but if I don’t see the logo as a shield they’re not going to benefit from that association. If I had to pass a phalanx of warriors on my way to work every morning I probably would have seen the shield, but the people I see wield only cell phones. To me, the shape looks unstable, balancing on that tippy point and ready to fall over any second. I am not reassured. I think it would be much better if they flipped it over and put the wide end at the bottom; then it would look like a house. That’s a much more familiar image, one most people associate with security and stability even though a lot of homes aren’t really that way.
I don’t like the colors. They call it “green and yellow”, but that green is really a shade of teal, the color all organizations seem to turn to when they want to be trendy. Trendy is not what I’m looking for in a bank. If they were going for the green equals money idea, they needed to use a green with more yellow in it, because our bills are not teal, not even the newest new twenties. It doesn’t help one bit that the convenience store across the street from my local branch also uses teal and yellow as the main components of its color scheme, so those hues are associated with junk food in my mind. Maybe the bank knows that and they chose those colors for that reason. Maybe the ATM’s are going to start dispensing King Dons and Ho-Hos in addition to cash. That might not be so bad.
I don’t like the values, meaning the lightness and darkness of the colors. The yellow tends to fade into light backgrounds, like the white of the envelope my statement comes in, and the teal blends into medium to dark backgrounds, like the deep green or teal on most of the signs. In both cases, the overall shape of the logo is obscured. The only time I’ve seen it look good is at night on the signs that are lit from within; then, the entire logo is a lot brighter than the background, which is unlit and looks black, providing maximum contrast.
I don’t like the triangle, but that’s really a value problem, too. I now understand the triangle, because I’ve seen them use just that part of the logo as an arrow pointing to some important message on one of their billboards, but it disturbs me that the lighter area that forms the triangle makes the logo look even more unbalanced than it already is. If the triangle blended better with the rest of the image, it would be fine. If they go with the flipping it into a house shape idea, they could still have the triangle, too.
Maybe the logo looks better in the Netherlands, where the parent company is based. Maybe their money is teal and yellow and shields are commonplace. No maybe about it, I need to stop thinking about this and use this situation as an opportunity to practice letting go. Teal and yellow are fine colors. If my bank has chosen to use them in a way that does not please me, so be it.
A year ago, it was all about winter.