What's behind the new TSB logo?

High street

TSB has been relaunched as a stand-alone brand. But why is the logo so similar to the previous incarnation, asks Kathryn Westcott.

Nearly two decades ago, the bank that liked "to say... YES" disappeared when it merged with Lloyds.

Now it's back with a logo featuring white lettering on blue circles, evoking, well, the white lettering on blue circles of the original logo. It's a touch of nostalgia on the High Street.

But wouldn't it be wiser to try and make some waves? No, says David Airey, graphic designer and author of Logo Design Love. "Where a logo already exists, you rarely need a completely new design," he says. "More often than not, a subtle refinement will bring the logo up-to-date while keeping the equity that's already there. Familiarity breeds trust, and trust wins custom.

Barclays More blue

"Logos should be appropriate for the companies they identify, and flashy isn't a term you'd want to associate with a bank. Secure, safe, reliable. That's what banks should be about."

The logo has moved from a serif to sans serif font and has a vague air of a Venn diagram with its overlapping dark sections. Airey says it has added a little depth and visual interest.

But why do so many banks favour blue? It's clean - "a common colour for bathroom detergents and hand gels", notes Airey. And that suggests safety.

"Blue is also visible to those with colour blindness (as opposed to reds and greens)."

Northern Rock Psychedelic rock

But Airey said that there is a need to balance the clean, safe approach with the need to stand out. Northern Rock went a tad neon in what Airey describes as a "bold move". "Unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned, but ultimately it was the people who were at fault, and that's what builds iconic brands - people."

Some fondly recall Bradford and Bingley's bowler hat and Midland's griffin. And we still have Lloyd's black horse. "There's something about a rearing horse that I don't trust, so I've never thought the Lloyds' horse was an appropriate symbol for a bank," says Airey.

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