Warning: This is most likely confusing. Or at least it was to me. Warning: I will mostly likely miss a lot of the nuances that the UK natives might be more attuned to. Warning: At the end of this post you will most likely go “Really? All that, for this?”. So, you’ve been warned. This month saw the split of two banks that were originally independent but then merged. The first, Lloyds Bank, was founded in 1765. The second, TSB (Trustee Savings Bank), was founded in 1810. The two merged in 1995 to form Lloyds TSB as a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group plc and became one of the “Big Four” financial institutions in the UK. In 2009 a ruling by the European Commission demanded that Lloyds Banking Group transfer part of its business to a new owner so, voila, Lloyds Banking Group launched TSB and revitalized the Lloyds Bank brand. Of the existing branches, TSB will get 631 branches and Lloyds Bank will keep over 1,300. Of the existing customers, around 5 million are being sent to TSB and over 15 million are staying with Lloyds Bank — this has apparently been the worst part of the transition as many customers aren’t happy to be shipped to TSB. The new logos for both banks have been designed by London-based Rufus Leonard, which is either the smartest move or the biggest conflict of interests ever. Only insiders know. The launch of the TSB brand was handled by London-based Joint and, I believe, Rufus Leonard handled the Lloyds Bank launch.
Each bank has adopted a separate narrative to help distinguish their offerings: TSB is pounding the message that they are “local”, meaning that all the money that comes into their bank is being used to fund loans and mortgages to locals and they have no intentions to get into international investments or speculations; meanwhile, Lloyd Bank seems to have grown in confidence with a more “mature” tone of voice and messaging — in the sense of a more serious and life-affirming approach as opposed to saying that TSB is “juvenile”. This clearly establishes Lloyds Bank as the bigger, more storied bank that doesn’t need to make bold claims to get people’s attention.
Below is a look at the identity and advertising efforts of both banks.
In terms of brand equity, Lloyds Bank came out on top obviously. Keeping the majority of branches while still being able to operate with the horse logo, which has been airbrushed to death making it look like it’s made out of faux obsidian. The typography, based on the Lloyds Banking Group’s, has been made friendlier through some small customizations like the angled bars of the “L”s, the open arms of the “Y”, and the incredibly annoying drooping of the “A“‘s crossbar. In application, there isn’t much of interest other than some nice photography and decent copywriting. The TV spot is quite good. But overall, the brand feels bland.
Having to earn back the trust of its customers and establish its own identity, TSB had to go with a slightly flashier launch with more targeted copywriting and messaging. Executed in a strict palette of blues — to differentiate from Lloyds Bank’s green and, certainly, to harken back to its pre-1995 logo — the identity and advertising are relatively striking. The new logo is far from exciting or overly distinguishing for a financial institution. The big typography in the banners and billboards is almost daring for a bank and it’s nicely executed — it certainly demands more attention than Lloyds Bank. Overall, a more interesting case than Lloyds Bank, but still nothing to rattle the bank or graphic industries.