Deutsche Bank has been using its signature logo — a blue slash in a blue box — since 1974. The bank chose the design in a contest, paying the winner a sum equivalent to $120,000 in today’s money (today this would be called “crowdsourcing”). Believe it or not, the bank’s logo is more popular today (in Germany) than those of branding giants Apple and Nike.
Deutsche has spent the last two years working on its brand, both its strategy and identity. In 2010, the German financial giant dropped the words “Deutsche Bank” from its logo, opting to go with the blue block symbol only. The tagline: “Passion to Perform.”
With its rebranding project now complete, the bank has spent millions memorializing its work in two projects: a graphics standards manual and a unique interactive museum (both shown in detail below).
Deutsche Bank Brand Strategy at-a-Glance
This summary of Deutsche’s brand strategy comes from the bank’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (PDF). There’s nothing wrong with the general structure and mechanics of the strategy, however Deutsche opts for common business clichés in a few places — “leading global provider,” “lasting value,” “measured approach” — where powerful, more instructive language belongs. Something might have been lost in the translation from German, but probably not much.
Mission: We compete to be the leading global provider of financial solutions, creating lasting value for our clients, our shareholders, our people and the communities in which we operate.
Brand: Deutsche is clear: we are here to perform — in business and beyond.
We do this with a unique mix of passion and precision. This measured approach gives us the confidence to enable agile minds to look beyond the obvious, gaining advantage for everyone we work with.
Personality: passionate, precise, confident, agile-minded.
Values: The principles that guide our behavior to deliver our brand include “performance,” “trust,” “teamwork,” “innovation” and “client focus.”
Promise: (1) Excellence in idea origination and execution — in advice, product and service, delivering one bank with all its resources and capabilities. (2) Relevant client solutions understanding diverse client needs — adding value, building trust and commitments that endure. (3) Responsibility acting today — thinking about tomorrow, demonstrating transparency and leadership.
In April 2011, Deutsche Bank opened a truly unique public forum for its brand inside its modernized Frankfurt HQ. The ultra-contemporary BrandSpace is a museum gallery of displays celebrating the bank’s logo, framed with angular architecture and cast in moody, urban lighting. You can watch a short video about Deutsche’s HQ towers in Frankfurt — including the BrandSpace — on YouTube.
In one display, visitors become part of an interactive Deutsche logo, using their silhouette to control how information is displayed.
Another interactive display chronicles Deutsche’s history — 650 short stories spanning 141 years packed into six chapters. A separate, freestanding 20-foot interactive table allows visitors to learn more about the bank.
There is a “kinetic logo,” a ten-foot tall display that choreographs colors, sounds, light and little white triangles around the bank’s blue block symbol. It involves two tons of technology, including 288 motors controlling 48 individual pieces.
Brand Standards Books
Deutsche Bank’s brand books come in at least two formats: fancy and fancier. The fancy one is an 80-page graphics standards guide, outlining the brand’s typography, colors, photography and logo usage. The fancier book is a sleek flat-black tome sporting an embossed hardbound cover.
Deutsche also has a digital version of its standards manual available online. The bank’s eStyle Guide is accessible through a password-protected “brand portal” subsite at db.com.
Deutsche worked with Studio 2br over a 12-month period to complete the research and design of the new identity system.
Unless your financial institution has at least a billion in assets, you probably don’t need to worry about making a graphics standards manual — certainly not one this advanced — anytime soon. But a guide to your brand for all employees is an entirely different matter.