Another review in the Brand Review series (previously I reviewed WAKAWAKA). With these reviews I plan to give you valuable branding insights from interesting visual identities out there. You'll discover all about the ins-and-outs of brand identity design —what is brand identity, the brand-assets you'll need, the pitfalls and most importantly what it can do for you.
In the 2nd edition we'll have a look at the rebrand of the Dutch ASN Bank.
Congrats to ASN Bank on the new look & feel!
Let's have a closer look at the new visual brand identity. We'll start with: who they are, their why and how; and how this all relates to their brand.
WHO IS ASN BANK?
#1: I've also said this in the Brand Review of WAKAWAKA, but it's so important that I'll repeat it here. It’s crucial to get to know your company before you start working on your brand identity.
Obviously ASN Bank is a bank. It’s not your average run of the mill bank, though. It’s a...
A bank that invest in sustainable development...
…with respect for man, animal and nature.
They call it:
Since her foundation in 1960 ASN Bank strives towards a sustainable, just society. A society where people are free to make their own choices, without harming others. A society without poverty, where everyone can get education and has access to proper housing and healthcare. Their mission is derived from this vision.
Their economic actions are focused on improving the sustainability of our society. That’s why they contribute to changes that are meant to end processes that have adverse consequences for:
- future generations, or
- the environment, nature and vulnerable sections of the population.
During which they never loose sight of the need to realise good returns for our clients. And to get financial results as a bank that ensures a healthy existence on the long run.
“Banking today for the world of tomorrow.”
That sounds like a worthy mission. I love the way they position themselves with their sustainable banking philosophy.
VISUAL BRAND IDENTITY
#2: After getting to know the company, start with the development of a logo as a visual representation of their values.
Now, let’s have a look at their visual identity. Like in the previous Brand Review, we’ll look into these 4 parts of their visual identity:
- Offline presence: Brochures, stationary, cards, etc.
- Online presence: Website and all other online places the bank appears on
- Social media presence
Let's start with the logo:
— Image: ASN Bank logo. Left: old, right: new.
As you can see the logo hasn’t changed all that much after the rebrand. The most prominent change is the font. It’s really different. It used to feel stable (and a bit heavy). The emphasis was mostly on the name ASN • BANK, especially with the black colour and the capital + bold letters. Even though the red colour and the 'playful' squirrel made the logo feel less corporate, it still felt like a bank. And the choice of font played a big part in this.
The changes might seem minor at first, but the new font changes the whole look & feel of the brand. It feels lighter, more personal.
— Image: ASN Bank logo icon. Left: old, right: new.
The squirrel icon had some changes as well — also minor ones. It's more about the details than anything. The curves are smoother and some parts have been simplified — like the ears, the snout and the paw.
#3: When a business does a rebrand, the icon usually becomes more 'streamlined' and/or simplified.
ASN Bank uses 2 primary colours: red and black, with 2 additional colours in a more supporting role.
PMS 7625 C
CMYK 0, 65, 75, 6
RGB 240, 83, 61
PMS BLACK C
CMYK 0, 8, 8, 80
RGB 52, 48, 48
PMS COOL GRAY 4 C
CMYK 0, 1, 1, 28
RGB 184, 183, 183
PANTONE 2344 C
CMYK 0, 49, 56, 4
RGB 244, 125, 108
To compliment the change of font — one that is a lot thinner and less in your face, they also made some changes to the colour. The red is less bright and as a result less in your face as well, just like the font.
The new ASN Bank visual identity uses 2 very popular fonts: Roboto Slab and Proxima Nova.
1. OFFLINE PRESENCE
I haven't been able to find any images of any of their new offline brand assets like a credit card or a brochure. Most of the brand assets you can download from their website are still from before the rebrand.
2. ONLINE PRESENCE
When we take a look at their website: asnbank.nl, we recognise the new logo right away:
— Image: ASN Bank website
I love the clean look & feel of the ASN Bank website. With a lot of white space, it feels light. They use colour in just in the right places — to emphasise specific element that need attention, e.g. buttons, a slider, the three different ways ASN Bank can help you (Paying, Saving and Investing) and important links.
I also like that their mission "sustainable banking" has a prominent place on their website. The main navigation right below the logo has an item for sustainability and the footer also has such an item. The part about "Why ASN Bank" of course also mentions their respect for man, animal and nature.
Without having to look very hard you can find out what they do and what they’re all about.
#4: Your website needs to answer 3 questions right away and visitors of your website will only give you a few seconds to give them the answers. The 3 questions are:
- What do you offer?
- How is that going to make my life better?
- What do I need to do to get started?
The prominent button in the top right corner gives returning clients easy access to their bank account. It's the best place for a call-to-action on your website (as it's one of the first places we — the visitor — look for such an action).
The website is easy to navigate, which is not always the case when you visit the website of a bank.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
On Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn we see the squirrel from their logo right away and we know we're in the right place. We also recognise the cover images from their website (I'll look into their use of imagery a little later in this review).
— Image: ASN Bank on Twitter (@asnbank)
— Image: ASN Bank on LinkedIn
They use their social media to show what they're about and what they do, but also for creating awareness for their cause "a sustainable society". Additionally they use these channels as a customer service tool — an easy way to get in touch with them.
The logo and cover image is the same on every platform, which makes it easy to recognise and consistent.
#5: Another tip I can't emphasise enough: It’s important to be consistent throughout your whole brand identity.
I’m a big fan of the illustrations on the new website by Timo Kuilder. They are clean, stylish, warm & colourful and contemporary. Just like with the use of the Roboto Slab font, these images are in line with currents trends in branding. I do feel that this doesn’t necessarily makes them timely. The style is trendy, but I do believe it can stand the sands of time.
— Image: Timo Kuilder on Behance
#6: Be careful of trends, as they can be very timely. They come and go, like the latest fashion. Your brand identity needs to represent your business for a long time, so it needs to stay relevant. The main thing to focus on when working on your (re)brand is to make sure the new identity genuinely represents your business, beliefs and values.
The other imagery used for the new ASN Bank brand identity works as well. They focus on people and that is reflected in their use of imagery. Most images used show a person doing daily activities while interacting with money (thus with their bank).
— Image: ASN Bank website
#7: Use images from what Donald Miller calls the ‘Succes Bucket’. These are images that show happy people interacting with your product or that show the amazing results your clients experience after working with you.
— Image: ASN Bank iOS icon
One point of critique: The new icon for their iPhone app doesn’t exactly do the rebrand justice. The margins around the name at the bottom of the icon are just too low. Now it looks ‘cramped’ and unprofessional. I know this seems like a minor detail, but the app might well be the most common way clients come in contact with the brand. And every time a client sees and uses the app, they get reminded of the unprofessionalism. This doesn’t reflect well on the bank, does it?
#8: Every interaction counts! Every interaction a client or prospect has with your brand leaves an impression, so make sure it’s a good one. I also wrote an article on: the importance of every interaction with your brand.
Not all their branding assets and promotion material has been adapted to the new brand identity as of yet. So my review of their rebrand might be a little premature. Their online presence, e.g. their website and apps and their social media presence, e.g. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been adapted though, but documents still need to be adapted.
#9: During this transition phase the old and new brand identity operate next to one another. This can be a little confusing for your clients and prospects. So, try to make the transition as seamless as possible.
- Fonts & imagery: Be careful of trends, as they can be very timely. They come and go, like the latest fashion. Their choice of font and imagery are quite trendy, so I'm curious as to how well they'll stand the sands of time.
- iOS app icon: The icon looks 'cramped' and unprofessional. As every interaction counts with your brand counts, so does your app icon.
With some minor changes to their logo (which turn out to have quite the impact) and some bigger changes to their use of fonts and imagery, ASN Bank has managed to make their brand feel contemporary again and most of all it doesn't feel like a bank anymore... and I think that's great.
What do you think?
Let me know in the comments below.
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