Iberian Banking Brands get Bold
March 28, 2011 ‐ 0 comments
In the wake (the throes?) of the Spanish banking crisis, consolidation has yielded a set of several major new players. For the sake of their depositors, we hope they're taking fewer risks with their assets than they are with their color palettes.
Unnim is one of three fairly new Spanish banking brands that has caught our eye. Unnim was created in July 2010 by the merger of Caixa Manlleu, Caixa Sabadell and Caixa Terrassa. (Caixa is Catalan for Caja, which is more or less Spanish for credit union). Here are those three logos, so you can see how far Unnim has come.
    Unnim isn't exactly a Catalan word, but it's immediately recognizable as meaning "Let's Unite." An innocuous enough name, but the multi-layered, multicolored, semi-transparent, off-axis, u-shaped amoeba that adorns the wordmark isn't your usual bank logo bug, and we like it. Next up, Catalunya Caixa, also launched in July of last year:
Catalunya Caixa is made up of Caixa Catalunya, Caixa Tarragona and Caixa Manresa. Again, the constituent parts' logos below.
        First of all, our apologies for the fuzzy resolution of the CX mark, but we can't find a sharp version online - even on the bank's home page! Here, while we still find the color palette adventurous for a bank, we don't think the mark quite hits the (ahem) mark. The stark juxtaposition of the C and the X leave us thinking more along the lines of forex and derivatives trading than not-for-profit retail banking. And the homage to the FedEx arrow is inelegant (though not tired in Spain, where FedEx is not the Kleenex of time-sensitive delivery). Finally, we bring you Bankia, unveiled earlier this month:  
Bankia rises from the coming together of no fewer than seven cajas, but two of them make up the bulk of the new entity. Their marks:
Okay, so maybe in this case Bankia have actually reined it in a notch from the Bancaja... well, we're not sure what to call it. Bankia's brown and lime green color palette is, again, a departure from the traditional dark blue and power red that dominate the world of finance. The Bankia name is safe enough (despite the tempest in a teapot because a Norwegian bank once used the name before being acquired and renamed). The wordmark takes some chances. First, with the heart-shaped B. Memories may be short, but a populace dealing with unemployment of over 20% may be feeling the crisis a little too viscerally for banks to inspire either éros, agápe or storge. Second with the readability - we stumble every time we read this name because of the vertical shared by the n and the k. If it gets people to stop and pay more attention to the name then it's a good thing. If it's irritating, it probably sticks in people's minds and is probably still a good thing in all fora except typography blogs. Let us be clear: neither the designs nor the color palettes nor the names of these three institutions are that far out there. But they are contemporary (Bancaja's po-mo illustration notwithstanding), and they do recognize that attempting to communicate only stability may not only ring untrue given the events of the last 4 years – as competition heats up to attract retail customers, it may just come up short.
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