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Russia’s Sunny Bank

Reviewed Feb. 19, 2010 by Brand New

Industry / Finance Tags /

MDM Bank Logo, Before and After

When Russian leaders talk about the recession, they invariably call it “the global financial crisis” - and the emphasis is always on “global”. It is a way of shifting the blame away from themselves. I am not going to initiate a political debate here: there are other, better places for this. But for one reason or another, Russian banks didn’t suffer too much from the recession. And now one of them has even launched a rebranding campaign. I always felt MDM Bank was one of those banks which people kind of know about, but don’t really go to for personal banking. Or, to put it differently, I know that the bank exists; I must have used its ATMs at some point, but I honestly don’t know anyone who has an account with them. Yet evidence suggests it is, in fact, one of the more successful Russian banks: its credit ratings are some of the best in the country.

MDM Bank Logo, Before and After

In August 2009, MDM Bank completed a merger with another Siberian-based bank, URSA Bank — click here for a scary merger logo. Now they have launched a common identity, designed by the Russian studio BBDO Branding (no English web-site, I’m afraid), who had designed URSA Bank’s logo back in 2007. Incidentally, this is the same studio that did such a poor job on the new identity for the Russian Railways.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of this creation, either. Granted, the new logotype is an improvement — but mostly because there was much to improve on. The typography in the new logo (set in FF Dax or a variant of it) is crisp and looks quite modern — at least for Russia. It is clearly superior to the previous version: the Latin “k” with an ascender in the old Russian logo makes me shudder, and did it really have to be so condensed? There is a clear desire to develop a more Western brand here, and I think in this respect the typography is a success. The symbol, however, is a different matter. Granted, it is better than the old one. (What was this thing supposed to be? Was it meant to be a pile of gold? It’s a pile all right). Here’s what they have to say about the new symbol:

“MDM Bank’s new logo will feature an image of the sun reflecting the bank’s main values: reliability and stability, openness and partnership, a warm attitude to individual and corporate clients, and the accessibility and simplicity of the bank’s services. Since ancient times the sun has had strong associations with gold and gave round shape to coins. Moreover, sun is also a symbol of power, energy and success. It is an exceptionally friendly sign full of warmness, optimism and positive emotions”.

The orange circle represents the sun. The sun represents warmth. (And gold coins). Now, isn’t this simply boring?

Here’s what I think: this is yet another missed opportunity for Russian brand designers. Here was a chance to do something really exciting, a logo that would be truly innovative for the Russian market and show MDM Bank’s Western partners that it is open to new ideas. Instead, the designers played it safe. The new identity is decent, I suppose; it doesn’t jar the eye. But logos like these are a dime a dozen, and there is nothing to differentiate MDM Bank from their competitors. Now, if only more designers (and companies) followed in the footsteps of Beeline

Thanks to J. Jason Smith for the tip.

Alexander Iosad is studying for a MA in Book Design at the University of Reading, UK. Despite growing up in the Age of the Internet, he doesn’t have a blog and his tweeting is at best sporadic. He is an International Correspondent for Brand New.



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