Image Makeover


Why and when refreshing your corporate logo could be a smart move

By Chris Lorence

When was the last time you looked closely at your community bank’s logo? This can be a tough question because many banks have operated with the same logo for so long that they don’t truly see it any more. With so many other priorities demanding your attention, looking at your corporate logo from the perspective of a potential customer or perhaps a competitor seems a bit of wishful thinking. Besides, a longstanding logo is like the family crest; it’s so well known that changing it could cost valuable business lest customers think you’ve also changed.

Is there ever a right time to consider updating your community bank’s logo?

All highly visible retail businesses rely on visual cues such as logos and taglines to support their brand and improve their recognition. Although a branch’s design, look, feel and location are important, a bank’s logo is potentially seen long before anyone sets foot inside a branch. This is why some community banks consider their logo sacrosanct and never try to update or change it, while other banks quickly nix any idea of a logo change after factoring the costs of doing so.

There is, however, a big difference between a logo associated with nostalgia and one that appears stuck in time. Unfortunately, an out-of-date, out-of-touch logo is not benign and can actually do harm.

Here are three key elements involved with a corporate logo update or change.

There is a big difference between a logo associated with nostalgia and one that appears stuck in time.

1. Personality. Does your logo reflect your current or desired business culture or model? Ultimately your logo should reflect who you are or who you aspire to be. Although it’s nearly impossible for one image or design to convey your bank’s entire personality, a clean, uncomplicated font, for example, can project a fresh, modern approach. A logo can be buttoned up, no nonsense—or it can sport elements that add a creative, unique flair. A new logo will be applied to everything, from pens, shirts, signs and checks to card plastics, letterhead, business cards and a website. So consider how any potential new logo would work in different mediums.

2. Eye-catching. Does your logo stand out and differentiate you from your competitors? Everyone should quickly and easily be able to identify your logo from the crowded marketplace of financial service providers. And if your bank is First National, 1st National or The First National, it’s imperative that your logo stands out. Your customers should remember it when they see it driving past your branch or on a billboard.

3. Impression. Does your logo establish a sense of trust? Your logo will reinforce the image a customer has in his or her mind about your bank. If your logo looks like it hasn’t kept up with the times, a customer could decide (either consciously or unconsciously), without even considering what services you offer, that your bank simply doesn’t have the modern banking conveniences that he or she wants or needs. A first impression often leads to a lasting one.

While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, your logo probably says more about you than you think. A corporate logo review should be part of any strategic planning process.

Chris Lorence ( is ICBA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.