A Super Regional Bank?
ANZ announced late last year that it had an aspiration to become a “Super Regional Bank” and at the same time announced a new brand, logo and visual language to be rolled out progressively over the next two years. The Asia Pacific division was the initial focus.
As part of this growth agenda, we need our brand to translate across a vast region that covers diverse audiences and geographies, including those with non-English speaking backgrounds.
IN ANZs 2009 Shareholder Update, Mike Smith, Chief Executive Officer states;
Our focus on Asia is driven by the reality that over the next two decades, economic growth in many parts of Asia – particularly in China and India – will outpace the rest of the world by a factor of three or four. At the same time, the trade and investment links between Australia and New Zealand and Asia are continuing to deepen.
The aspiration we set, however, is not simply about Asia – it is also about building and investing in our presence in Australia and maintaining our leading position in New Zealand.
Does the new ANZ logo reflect a Super Regional Bank?
Research – Is it always right?
In developing the new brand, ANZ commissioned Millward Brown to conduct research across the Asia-Pacific region covering six countries, 12 cities, 50 ANZ staff, and 1200 customers/non-customers.
Two common themes emerged:
1/ People wanted their bank to be “people-shaped” and
2/ People wanted to have a banking experience that was “uncomplicated”.
Ok…people shaped and uncomplicated – The new ANZ logo ticks both these boxes quite literally.
Going Global – Attempting to symbolically connect
In response to Millward Browns research, ANZs new logo and visual language was developed by M&C Saatchi to include the following features:
1/ The reduction of ANZ word-mark lines from three to one represents ‘One ANZ’, and reflecting the equator which runs through the Asia-Pacific region.
2/ A new symbol ‘The Lotus’ which represents ANZ in all its markets regardless of language.
The three petals of the lotus is meant to represent our region; Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific. The central shape of ‘The Lotus’ represents ANZ’s customers and people.
The result has seen ANZ’s character scaled back to be more modernised and simplified. The introduction of the ‘Lotus’ has the new brandmark very much focused at the Asian market because of its cultural significance.
In Buddhist iconography, Buddha is often represented on a pink lotus. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. It is also to be noted that most Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu, Japanese, amongst other Asian deities are often are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.
In the classical written and oral literature of many Asian cultures the lotus is present in figurative form, representing elegance, beauty, perfection and grace, being often used in poems and songs as an allegory for ideal feminine attributes.
Do you think ANZ will lose any existing brand loyalty and appeal by attempting to connect to the new Asian market? It is hard to imagine so given it seems to keep most of its customers even with the fees
Keeping the charm of the old, for the sake of the new
If we were to compare the new brandmark to other recent bank brand refreshes we would look at the NAB and BNZ. Both have raised the benchmark for banks to discard conservatism to become more friendly and modern. I think the ANZ logo has both of these attributes, but it just doesn’t have the magic. The ‘Lotus’ feels a little awkward and lets be honest, it is a touch weird. But it is also a reminder that we need to understand the cultural nuances of the international markets served.
However, it will be interesting to see how the new brandmark fits within the Australia and New Zealand markets. I sometimes feel when it comes to banking…’who cares’ – there is simply no choice when the competitors mirror each other.