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Abbey lights a flame to fan hopes


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 15 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 15 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 15 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Which of Abbey’s new looks do you prefer? I can certainly see why, in this modern age, someone would rebrand from the first to the second, but why would anyone in the right mind go from the second to the first?

The first logo looks staid, old-fashioned, and boring – very samey. The second looks funky, fresh, and something a bit different. Why, oh why, rebrand when you’ve just spent eighteen months making your brand a success, and turning around your failing business?

I don’t get it!

This 389th post was filed under: News and Comment.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Matthew Revell

    09.37, 09/05/2005

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

I wonder if Banco Santander will return the whole of Abbey to the 1970s.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    16.39, 09/05/2005

It seems to me that Abbey wanted to be one thing, whilst the new owners want it to be another. Which suggests to me that we’ll end up with little more than a disorganised mess, at least for a while – just after Abbey’s started to sort itself out.

They’ve recently updated abbey.com, and it looks most perculiar to have such a staid logo next to a picture of daffodils and simplified friendly copy. The whole situation is simply odd.

Comment from Jimmy Mack

    18.16, 11/05/2005

The Wolff Olins ‘abbey’ branding was and is certainly far more contemporary than the corporate Santander offering.

However, I can well understand the frustrations of the new owners: there appeared to be no agreed colour for it (branches were sometimes green, sometimes blue and sometimes magenta), leading to alot of confusion and a rather wishy washy feeling.

The broader communication strategy (‘turning banking on its head’) was also way beyond credibilty and not supported by particularly rel;evant or distinctive products. I can see why they retired it to the Costa Del Sol.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    19.01, 11/05/2005

Perhaps it’s a ‘small minds’ thing, but I liked the colour variations – it gave each branch its own identity. And their stationery came in the rainbow of colours too, so each month, you’d get a differently coloured statement, and similarly with receipts from the branches. It brightened up what could otherwise have been an excessively dull transaction.

As for the broader communication strategy, I tend to agree with you. I think they would’ve been better trying to communicate a more personal and friendly approach, rather than simply ‘turning banking on its head’ which, as you say, was not backed up with appropriate products.

They didn’t seem to fully think things through either, firstly introducing a regular product ‘catalogue’, which lasted one issue (or possibly two), then introducing a regular customer magazine which lasted one issue. It’s almost as if they chose to test these ideas on a national basis, instead of doing a local pilot before rolling them out nationally.

I actually think it was a mistake to completely remove the ‘umbrella’ logo and branding, as well as to rename to ‘abbey’. They would’ve been better just developing the old idea, rather than taking a completely new one on board – after all, as much as I liked the Wolff Olins branding, it would’ve dated very quickly anyway.

Having said all of that (far more than I did in the original post!), I think that the Santander branding is dull and uninspired, not to mention failing to fit in with the ‘abbey’ approach and being (perhaps) unattractive to their current and target customers.

Maybe it’s a good thing, and maybe the company will go much further with mainstream branding. I don’t know. We’ll see, I guess.

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