Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ten Point Scale: Banks

There are a lot of banks in New York City. I’ve already featured some here. And some from outside the city, too. But I figured it was about time I rounded up a larger pool of logos from NYC for a new installment of the Ten Point Scale.

This gallery is by no means comprehensive. First of all, these are only some of the banks found in relative abundance here in New York. Some may be recognizably national, but others are certainly not. Secondly, it’s not a top ten list. The Ten Point Scale is a spectrum of Pr*tty to Sh*tty. The idea is that the countless other bank identities of the world hopefully fit somewhere on this spectrum.

Also, a quick reminder that 10 is the Pr*ttiest and 1 is the Sh*ttiest. And check out the first, second, and third installments of the Ten Point Scale, in case you missed them.

10. Wachovia
Bound to be a controversial choice. But I think the type is strong and attractive, and the mark, while somewhat ambiguous, is intriguing and pretty.

9. Chase
I like that Chase is brave enough to own their name without tacking the word Bank onto it. And the octagonal mark is classic. The type is not my personal favorite, and feels sort of dated to me, but at least it’s quirky enough for them to own it.

Another classic, geometric icon. I just wish the type was less run-of-the-mill.

7. Citibank
I’m not a huge fan of Interstate, and it always kind of bugged me that the end points of the red arc don’t line up exactly with the i’s, but it’s hard to deny the simple, ownable elegance of this identity.

6. Apple Bank
This is sort of a weird one. The first local bank in our line up, so I’m prepared to say the typewriter font is charming in its oddness. My big beef is with the apple. Much too boring and generic.

5. Bank of America
Much like the Citibank logo, here’s another one where the odd alignment (or lack thereof) of the stripes in the mark really rankles me. And while the type is fine it’s enough to put you to sleep as you wait in line for an ATM.

4. Emigrant Savings Bank
Another odd regional bank. Every location I’ve ever encountered looks like a prison, so I find it endearingly appropriate that the type matches that impression. At least they’re consistent in their image. It’s entirely the wrong image, but hey.

3. TD Bank
The TD mark is mind-numbingly banal, and it doesn’t help that it’s paired with some obscenely mismatched, bold type. I’d love to see the page in their brand guideline that explains how to add random, sh*tty green stripes to the logo for signage... inspiring!

2. Amalgamated Bank
The sketch book of any freshman design student has more inspired ideas chicken-scratched in the margins than this. On the bright side, if they ever sponsor a race car with the number 43, their logo might serve some purpose. An ugly purpose, sure, but that would be on-brand at least.

1. Capital One Bank
Do you think we could stop calling these swooshes and call them barfs instead? As in “The ugly, jumbled type is intersected by a giant red barf.” Nike gets a pass. Maybe.

Other stuff:

5.5. Sovereign Bank
Sort of boring, but handsome type. The name, coupled with the lantern is confusing, but oddly intriguing.

3.5. Valley National Bank
Redundant V much?


  1. Wachovia's graphic logo impressed Northfield Bank enough to emulate it to within an inch of a trademark lawsuit. Just saying.

  2. I've always assumed TD Bank's name was actually just Bank, b/c it's hardly readable as they intend it. A truly fugly identity.

  3. Wachovia Bank is named after Wachovia, NC... which was in turned named after a place (Die Wachau, Wachovia is the latin name) in Austria that it resembled. Basically the logo is rolling hills and a river, but done in a very attractive way. The logo debuted after the merger of First Union and Wachovia, and combined First Union's corporate green with Wachovia's corporate blue.

  4. Oh, and Wachovia has merged/been bought/whatever by Wells Fargo. One thing I don't like is how on the official Wachovia website, they've shrunk the logo and badly added "A Wells Fargo Company" in red underneath it. It completely ruins the balance.

  5. The Citibank arc you referred to is actually an umbrella (the work of Paula Scher at Pentagram, NY) so I think that's why the arc doesn't line up with the i's, so as to seem a separate element. Hope this brings you peace of mind next time you see it :)

  6. Citibank didn't always have the red arc. When they merged with Travelers (whose logo is a red umbrella), the incorporated an umbrella into the type. It only works when you see the commercial and an animated umbrella flys over the citibank logo and plants itself on top of the text.

  7. Anonymous and Erika-
    I work at Pentagram for 3+ years, so I'm well versed in the history of the citibank logo. The notion that it's an umbrella doesn't really excuse the fact that the arc doesn't line up with the i's... Not in my book anyway. It just always struck me as being too closed to aligned to not look like a mistake that they don't align.

  8. WAIT!! You forgot the SunTrust logo that looks like a Rastafarian afro of sunshine and ganja.

  9. I did an internship for one of the companies that does TD's branding. The first two days of that internship were spent reading that brand guideline book that stated how to add those green lines or "power paths" to all the signage.