We at d.trio have a long history of marketing for the financial industry. One trick we use for making the best of that experience is to stay on top the latest visual branding trends. For this post, I’ll be examining three of the biggest banks right here in our back yard of Minneapolis—US Bank, TCF Bank, and Wells Fargo—and discussing my thoughts on the logos, design elements, and photography they use to round out their visual language.
The US Bank logo is solid and straightforward, highlighting the serious tone that all financial industries prefer to emphasize. It uses a lowercase font that doesn’t “shout” the logo. The bold font weight and hard edges also visually represent strength and stability. The focal point of the logo is the use of the shield that reverses the “us”. The shield represents security and durability. All the visual elements are meant to show clients they take their business seriously and are dependable.
The shield is an important element that repeats throughout US Bank’s marketing. It continually reinforces the themes of security and trustworthiness. The other graphical elements repeat the straight lines, boldness, and strength implied by their logo and typography.
All their photography is highly saturation, vibrant, and dynamic. The subjects are all happy, confident, and usually captured at intimate distances in lifestyle settings. The emotional content is the most important feature of their photography. Clients are meant to see themselves in the photography and connect the empowered and happy lifestyle with the dependability and peace-of-mind that banking with US Bank can help reinforce for them. To ensure their clients are able to see themselves amongst their photography there is also a large emphasis on diversity.
TCF Bank’s logo has similarities and unique features among bank logos. Similar to the US Bank logo, the wordmark is in lowercase. This represents the support role that TCF plays for its clients and their businesses/lives. Its clients are the stars and TCF is an ally they can rely on. Still, the logo is bold and the serif elements show the sturdy and dependable themes found throughout their brand’s design. The flag element ads a unique organic shape that helps them stand out amongst today’s bank logos.
The supporting graphics and textures TCF employs are reminiscent of puzzles and building blocks that represent their commitment to the growth and support for their clients. The icons are very simple and easy to read.
TCF’s photography uses lifestyle photos that focus on representing their client’s lives. They are high-contrast, vibrant, and capture intimate moments. To create visual interest, they also mesh their graphical elements with photography. Diversity in their subjects is key.
Wells Fargo Bank
The Wells Fargo logo has undergone many changes over the course of its life but the typography remains very similar to the original. The capitalized serif font goes all the way back to their original logo, emphasizing the importance history plays in the Wells Fargo brand. This history is another way to represent the dependability and strength it has in common with the other two logos examined here. It uses hard edges and geometric shapes reminiscent of architecture to represent the same seriousness and durability.
The additional graphical elements of Wells Fargo’s brand emphasize simplicity. They want their customers to view working with them as simple, safe, and easy. The horse drawn carriage that used to be a part of their original logo appears sparingly to once again help reinforce the emphasis on history.
Their photography tends to be brighter and mostly lighter in colors. Where this takes away from the dynamic elements of the photography it adds a simplicity and “comfortable” feeling to the subject matter. The settings and subjects convey lifestyle and show diverse individuals and families living confidently and happy.
Overall, the important themes that all the banks have in common are those of dependability and simplicity. These themes align with the brands we work with most often today, including Truist Bank (formerly SunTrust and BB&T) and Synchrony Bank. Each bank takes its own approach to driving home these themes, but key similarities can be found among most brands in the financial industry: solid bold geometric shapes, highly legible typography, and less personality or style.
Standing out is as important as it is in any industry, but most banks want their customers/clients to see them as serious and supportive entities. Savvier brands tend emphasize the individuality of their clients and their stories and how they can be a dependable part of helping them grow.