An consistent, integrated brand identity helps build your reputation and consumer awareness. Here are 9 excellent examples from the banking industry showing you what a strong, strategic brand identity should look like.
What is a brand identity? A brand identity encompasses everything you slap your logo on — signage, business cards, debit/credit cards, pens, staff apparel, vehicles, brochures, ads, etc. It is the exterior wrapper or visual veneer that covers the organization. It is a common mistake to confuse the terms “brand,” “brand strategy” and “brand identity,” and they are often used interchangeably. A “brand” is an organization’s reputation. A “brand strategy” is a deliberate plan for how an organization hopes to shape consumer perceptions — what kind of reputation the organization wants to have. And a “brand identity” is a visual expression of the brand strategy, and (hopefully) a true reflection of the organization’s reputation (or brand).
What are the components of a brand identity? The brand identity should define the look, tone, style and flavor of the brand in 2d, 3d and 4d space. This includes color, type, photography/imagery, logos, design grid, video treatments, jingles, etc. These things should all be defined in a brand identity manual or corporate design style guide.
What are the hallmarks of good brand design? There are many professors at art schools that will tell you great design incorporates “a maximum of variety” with “a maximum of unity.” While this may — on the surface — sound like contradictory advice, it actually makes a lot of sense. Human beings get bored quickly, so your brand identity must be able to accommodate a wide and varied range of executions otherwise it becomes visually redundant. But you also need to have some consistent elements to tie it all together or you risk creating a brand that is so disparate that people don’t recognize your marketing materials. And yet if you overemphasize consistency where everything looks the same all the time, your brand will turn into one big blur and people will stop paying attention.
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1. Friend Bank
A comprehensive brand identity for Friend, a franchise of community banks. Name development, core values, mission definition, brandmark, visual system, signage and interior design by Slaughter Group.
What Works: The name. You can’t go wrong with a theme like “friends.” It affords a wide range of pleasing executions, both in terms of language and imagery (e.g., dogs).
2. First Citizens Bank
First Citizens Bank of Trinidad and Tobago revitalized its image in a way that would appeal to all its constituencies: local communities, international markets, private banking and corporate banking. The new logo is a dynamic series of upward-aiming, interlocking arches intended to communicate the bank’s energy, growth, flexibility and a sense of partnership/unity. Multiple colors reflect the vibrant multi-cultural environment in which the bank operates. This is a world-class identity from the big-time brand design agency Lippincott.
3. MB Financial
What Works: MB’s signature red square makes it easy to brand just about anything — layouts, schwag, buildings. It’s a wonderfully simple identity system.