ANZ Bank adopts more humanised image

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Since early this fall, ANZ Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific, has been overhauling its image with a new logo and tagline. ANZ will spend $15 million on rebranding over the course of 2010. The change will be gradual, as this was found to be less expensive than an overnight makeover. Reasons for the rebrand included ANZ’s fragmented brand identity and the bank’s strong expansion into markets such as Cambodia, Vietnam and China. According to Melbourne School marketing expert, Jody Evans, the new symbol may be more accessible in these markets than an acronym (news.com.au).

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Mike Smith, CEO of ANZ Bank, says the change is “driven by the company’s values which put people at the centre of the organisation” (Herald Sun) While the old logo was simply the bank’s name, the new mark is more symbolic. The three “petal” shapes represent the bank’s three core markets, and the person-shaped middle represents customers and employees. ANZ’s new tagline, “We live in your world”, is meant to position the bank as an institution that understands and empathizes with consumers.

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Rebranding efforts are usually met with some opposition from consumers, and ANZ is no exception – in an online poll almost half of respondents disliked the new logo (referring to it as the “blue blob”). Since September / October, there has been an outpouring of different opinions about the updated look. Judging by comments online, graphic designers are up in arms against the new typography and consumers are having trouble understanding what the new logo conveys.

Words collected from the design community:

“The logo itself feels a little weak. The ANZ wordmark holds the same basic shape, although it is a little less oblique. The single stripe (compared to the old multiple stripes) seems to mak the logo feel less dynamic, a little more boring perhaps.”
– Jordesign blog

“The new typography strips everything that was remotely interesting about the old one — the multiple lines and the italics — and all that is left is a set of unsightly letters…The shapes of the icon have no reference to the typography and the overall lock-up is downright unpleasant.”
Brand New

“The font appears mismatched from the logo itself, and the spacing between the letters feels wrong.”
Frontier Group

“The ‘Lotus’ feels a little awkward and lets be honest, it is a touch weird. But it is also a reminder that we need to understand the cultural nuances of the international markets served.”
– truly deeply // madly

Amusing opinions about the new logo from consumers:

“I perceive the logo representing three slugs falling apart with the top one curling from the heat or stress but intact only by human prevalence.”

“Looks like a person holding up their hands in the “I don’t know” gesture.”

“It looks like a screaming baby asking to be picked up.”

“Looks like a logo for a human rights or food aid organisation.”

(Read more of people’s comments here.)

I am inclined to like the old logo because it has a vintage feel and reminds me of a 1970s airline. While this is a good thing in my book, it’s probably not what a bank wants consumers to think. Overall, the design community recognizes that ANZ Bank needs an updated look and feel, but the consensus seems to be that they missed the mark with the new logo design. I would tend to agree.

8 comments on “ANZ Bank adopts more humanised image

  1. There’s usually general criticism, but in this case most of the comments seemed to be specifically about the awkward new typography. I do have to give ANZ props for bucking the prevailing trend and not going all lowercase, (competitors National Australia Bank and Bank of New Zealand both took the lowercase route with their rebrands).

  2. I tend to agree with Jeffry regarding designers being all to quick to heavily slam re-brands. The City of Melbourne’s recent rebrand is a classic example… many designers were irate about the redesign costing “so much for so little in return”, but when you dig a little deeper you find that we (I include myself here!) were really just irate at the fact that the design went to an offshore studio, and that the actual logo itself was fantastic.

    However, in the case of the ANZ re-brand, I have to say that the glyph is both cliche and … well, it is odd … perhaps it will be better received outside of Australasia — which seems a little traitorous really doesn’t it?

  3. And almost ironic, since the blobs in the logo are supposed to represent ANZ’s three core markets – Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific.

    The City of Melbourne’s rebrand is leaps and bounds better than ANZ’s. Some of those M’s remind me a little bit of Tetris! A good thing in my book.

  4. The logo does seem fit for a life insurance or pharmaceutical company. But I must say it is far more modern, elegant and friendly than the old one. Well done!

  5. Very weird logo, despite some of the comments saying it is well received outside Australia leaves me scratching my head. This certainly wouldn’t work here in Europe, perhaps your thinking of USA… It looks very dated and might have been considered ‘cool’ in 1980, regrettably the logo symbol is reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s ‘The scream” which in a sense is wonderfully ironic

    1. Miles, thanks for your comment. I tend to think logos are among the most personal of business elements, which of course means that names cause people to form strong personal opinions based on their own tastes. It’s kind of like naming a child–you may love the name you gave your son, but your friends might cringe when they find out you named him Ralph. I think all this opinion is actually a good thing, though. It creates reactions, which by their very nature mean that people are least somewhat engaged in your message. If they weren’t at least a little engaged, they would just shrug their shoulders and not form any opinion at all.

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