Opinions on corporate and brand identity work.

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This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.


Two Thirds Off, At Least

Reviewed May. 28, 2007 by Armin

Industry / Finance Tags /

Fifth Third Bank Logo, Before and After

I have always been disgustingly fascinated by the name “Fifth Third Bank”. Specially since I had no idea where it came from. I wondered, how stupid can a bank be that divides anything into two times more than it mathematically could? Having never had to satisfy that curiosity until today — since I bank at Pentagram-designed banks only — I finally learned that the name comes from the merger of Fifth National Bank and Third National Bank almost one hundred years ago, in 1908, forming Fifth Third Bank. In the same vein, the old logo has consistently struck me as both repelling and fascinating, with its ultra thickness, italicism and super curves. Luckily, with a redesign by Cincinnati-based branding agency Deskey,�I have now come to peace with my paradoxical feelings: I just find it repelling, nothing else.

Officially launched back in February, but only publicly viewable earlier this month (and 18 months in the making) Fifth Third Bank’s logo carries the hope of a new internal brand promise — “We will relentlessly meet today’s needs while working hard to deliver a better tomorrow for our customers and ourselves” — combined with a new mission — “Fifth Third Bank will become the bank people choose over others, because customers seek clarity in making their financial decisions” — and some heavy press releasing:

The new identity symbolizes a horizon, with an update of the distinctive Fifth Third shield serving as a foundation for the visual. The shield has been a part of the Fifth Third identity for more than 50 years. Its central focus in the new identity represents the rich heritage of Fifth Third Bank, while the intersecting horizon line is a metaphor for the bright future it seeks for its customers, employees, communities and shareholders.
“The new color palette reinforces the horizon metaphor with the addition of an invigorating green, designed to evoke growth and possibilities. By incorporating a brighter shade of blue, the identity remains true to the Bank’s legacy while evolving into the new positioning.”
— Miki Reilly-Howe, vice president of Strategy Development for Deskey

Unfortunately, there is no explanation for what the horrendous new typeface means. I’m rarely offended by typographic choices, but this one is utterly inappropriate for anything designed in 2007, topped off by an equally old-fashioned small cap treatment and close kerning that barely begins to take attention away from the XL swoosh. Deskey also managed to remove one of the few inspired bits in the old logo, by de-italicizing the numbers and the holding shape; a trait that at least implied minimal dynamism but now creates a clash between the slash and the rest of the mark. This logo is now five thirds worse than it used to be.



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