The New Bank of Melbourne
The recent re-appearance of The Bank of Melbourne in its new swanky form has by no means gone unnoticed by creatives and Melburnians alike. The relaunch of the bank was expected to cost close to $100 million, making it a much anticipated event– (Westpac’s big plans were first mentioned back in 2004). With such a large budget, the expectations were high, especially when compared to The City of Melbourne’s redesign campaign, which cost the government a mere $147,906.
Westpac’s attempt to re-launch and re-integrate The Bank of Melbourne as a ‘community minded’ and ‘humble’ business has been met with much hype and critique from the public– me included. The aim was to re-brand The Bank of Melbourne as an iconic and exclusive Melbourne bank, to boost the regional market with the revival of the idea of a community bank branch.
According to James Sterling (head of Designworks- the graphic design firm responsible for The Bank of Melbourne’s ‘new look’) “Melbourne is a thriving, modern, progressive city with a proud, loved and endured heritage”. The question is, does the oddly shield-like logo and tightly kerned lettering speak of Melbourne in this progressive and modern light, while still making reference of a rich heritage?
My answer to this question is ‘yes’, albeit a rather tentative agreement. The relevance of the shield logo as a symbol of trust, community and united ideals creates a strong message of the re-jigged brand promise. Where the confusion for me lies, is whom the target audience is, and whether this highly modern and graphically inclined ‘new look’ will appeal to the ‘regional market’ they refer to? Surely the swanky new look will appeal more to young, hip and happenin’ Melbournians, and leave more mature citizens confused over the disappearance of the old retired brand. In saying this also, I ask how does this modern design refer to Melbourne’s heritage at all? In many ways the old brand, as clunky and archaic as it is, does this much better.
Although I think the re-branding of The Bank of Melbourne has breathed a new life (if we are to be totally cliché about it) into the tired and previously redundant company, its similarities to The Beirut Hellenic Bank are too striking to ignore. Whether this was an intentional ‘influence’ or mere coincidence, it leaves me feeling even more confused about exactly what The Bank of Melbourne are trying to convey. Sure, the banks share the same community minded ideals and both seek to portray a level of trustworthiness and approachability- but surely all banks have the same goal?
The Beruit Hellenic Bank has a large clientele of customers of Greek heritage (the only time I pass a branch is when I go out for Greek food in Oakleigh!), however, seek to provide a ‘modern’ and ‘relationship focused’ banking ‘experience’ (if you like!). One could argue that the blue and white colour scheme also alludes to a Hellenic theme.
Why then, would The Bank of Melbourne create an identity that is so overtly similar, and arguable un-Melbourne? Especially when their main goal was to produce a brand, which is iconic to Melbourne?
And if the question is who copied who, the Beirut Hellenic Bank first opened branches in 2001- plenty of time for designers responsible for The Bank of Melbourne’s new logo (Ogilvy and Designworks) to suss out the competition.
This is not to say that I don’t like the new logo. I actually think it is quite visually effective and striking. The blue colour scheme is inoffensive and the typeface- modern and highly legible. The tessellated shield-like logo is bold and, in a way, assuring in its solid form. In this way, it clearly portrays The Bank of Melbourne’s brand promise of providing a humble, trusted bank service committed to the local community.