Halifax gets a new brand to keep up with digital banks

The 166-year-old high street bank has been given a new visual identity by Rufus Leonard, which aims to “declutter” the brand and help it appeal to younger people.

Banking chain Halifax has been rebranded by Rufus Leonard, in a bid to help it compete with digital banks and fintech brands like Monzo and Starling, while attracting a younger audience.

The studio has created a new logo and wider visual identity for the bank, while advertising agency Adam&EveDBB has created a new advert, which celebrates the bank’s mortgage offerings for home buyers.

Halifax’s new brand strategy is based around “fintech meets humanity”, says Carlo D’Alanno, executive creative director at Rufus Leonard, which has drawn inspiration from the “straightforward and simple” feel of financial technology brands.

The refreshed Halifax logo retains the brand’s “X” symbol, but includes a new, bespoke logotype, as well as a redesigned “X” that is now filled-in rather than striped with horizontal lines. The new typeface is less bold, with thinner letterforms and smaller kerning, while the new “X” is also thinner and slightly elongated.

The logo keeps the brand’s blue but has incorporated a wider core palette of dark blue and white, which are used interchangeably.

A secondary palette of green, yellow and pink has been incorporated into the wider visual identity, across print and digital communications, while people photography and a new suite of line-drawn icons referencing different Halifax services also features, such as a key symbol to represent mortgages and a wrench symbol to reference help settings. A free, Google typeface, Source Sans, is used for body copy across communications.

The aim was to “declutter” the brand, making it more “utilitarian” and “digital first”, says D’Alanno.

“We wanted it to be warm and colourful, while still being true to the brand’s blue,” he says. “The horizontal lines in the logo were not robust in a digital space, they just got obliterated and were not strong or powerful. We removed the lines, generally decluttered and simplified the identity with flatness to help make it modern, clean and less fussy.”

The photography focuses on humans to show the “range of emotions” people feel when using the banking service, says D’Alanno.


 

Adam&EveDBB’s new ad takes a jovial and funny tone, featuring a slinky toy celebrating its new home to the soundtrack of Kool and the Gang’s Jungle Boogie.

It does away with Halifax’s previous style of incorporating classic animated characters into its adverts, such as The Thunderbirds and Top Cat, as customer research showed that they had “lost their relevance”, says D’Alanno.

The new identity and campaign hope to attract a wider audience, says D’Alanno, and compete with younger start-up brands.

“Halifax has a broad audience, from couples who are first-time house buyers, to people who are already asset-rich,” says D’Alanno. “We wanted to make the brand appeal to younger people, without excluding the older demographic.

“It is absolutely trying to compete with fintech brands,” he adds. “Halifax is trying to [adopt principles] of brands like Monzo, which are simplicity, ease of use and straightforward-ness. The idea is to make sure the service comes first, and the bank comes second.”

Digital banks such as Monzo offer customers services such as fee-free spending abroad, budgeting tools that help users manage monthly spending between different life areas such as groceries, drinking and eating out, and summary infographics showing where users have spent their money in a digestible, infographic format.

D’Alanno says that Halifax wants to show it is now “doing things that fintechs are doing”, including “straightforward” services such as the ability to temporarily freeze rather than cancel a bank card, contactless payments, and allowing customers to pay in a cheque via the mobile banking app, adding that the brand hopes to branch out into more “digital-first” features in future.

“It’s on the table to take on features [such as budgeting and spend tracking],” he says. “The ambition for Halifax is to move into that space, while also having the big bank resources and customer base that start-up digital banks don’t have.”

He adds that the new identity aims to humanise Halifax, and through using softer colours, flatter graphics and people photography, help it appear “more honest and democratic”, and enable it to stand out from high-street competitor banks such as Natwest, Santander and Barclays. “We want to make it feel less like an institution and more a bank of choice that is easy to engage with,” he says.

Halifax’s new branding and ad campaign is currently rolling out across all touchpoints, including the website and app, in-store signage, and print and marketing materials. The project took Rufus Leonard four months to complete and is on-going.

The design studio has worked with Lloyds Bank, the parent company of Halifax, for 25 years, and gave Lloyds a new brand identity six years ago.

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