Photo: Anne Lise Norheim
Over ten years ago, Sandnes Sparebank decided to make itself known as the sympathetic, flexible bank for private individuals and small to medium-sized companies. It has used the motto “As you like it” and its graphic style since 1998.
Sandnes Sparebank is a small, fashionable bank. It has maintained the same bold, humorous design and communication concept for over ten years. The emotional expression contrasts strongly with traditional banking language and creates a unique character. The bank’s values are Easier, Better and Happier, and the playful design in yellow, black and white complements these well.
You can recognise Sandnes Sparebank in everything it does, yet there is enormous variation within the palette. The cooperation between the agency and the bank is exemplary and shows that you certainly do not need to use grey and blue to be credible as a bank. Here is a bank that values emotional aspects and looks its customers in the eye. The jury wants the kongekonto (royal account).
For 12 whole years Sandnes Sparebank has kept up its own cheerful expression in yellow, black and white with impressive stamina. The bank wants to visualise its personality through its profile. Its aim has been to create a profile, which, based on differentiation, trust and credibility, strengthens all communication from the bank and shows the visions and values it stands for.
A small, local bank often knows its target group and can adapt to it in a way that large banks cannot. This has been fully exploited in a playful way. Sandnes Sparebank changed its graphic design in 1998 and its logo in 2000, but has operated in the city of Sandnes for 135 years. In other words, the bank has many years of experience in knowing what makes people tick in Norway’s eighth largest city. Although the designer and communication officers in the bank have a lot of freedom, the board and management are always involved in the process. Everything has to be harmonised with how the bank thinks, and there is a small control group that evaluates and approves decisions.
The optimistic colour scheme and graphic design characterise all Sandnes Sparebank’s material. A design manual exists, but the designer has a lot of freedom in how to apply it. In this case, part of the uniqueness of the close cooperation between the agency and the client is that the same designer and writer have been responsible for the bank’s graphic design for 12 years. Trond Fernblad at Fasett has been fully responsible for the bank’s visual expression since the brand promise “As you like it” was introduced in 1998. Since then, the concept has grown almost organically.
As you like it
All graphic elements support the brand promise, which has been a common starting point for both agency and client. Although there have often been long discussions, the brand promise has contributed to creating a common platform and made it easier to reach agreement on the directions chosen along the way. The identity consists of three colours; black, white and yellow. Yellow symbolises creativity, optimism, happiness and reason. The bank’s happy expression is the result of mutual trust between the bank and agency and a clear common strategy.
Testing and choice of direction
There is an expression: “Never change a winning team”. It can be said that Sandnes Sparebank lives according to this motto. Its aim has always been to appear new, while retaining continuity. The bank is a small player in a large market and has therefore used available means to make itself visible. By not behaving like a typical bank year in and year out, Sandnes Sparebank has distinguished itself positively for many years. It turns out that both the market and the bank’s employees love its affirming graphic design, which harmonises with the bank’s values – easier, better and happier. Furthermore, the bank uses an informal language and tone in its communication, which enhances its graphic image.
The characteristic line drawings and distinctive use of colour create such a unique expression, whether on buttons and coffee cups or in advertisements and annual reports, that the bank hardly has to display its logo on its material anymore. The profile provides great visibility and makes it easier and cheaper to implement market strategies. It speaks directly to the recipient in a visual and emotional way that is not dependent on a large volume of explanatory words. In an impressively elegant way, you can always recognise a design from Sandnes Sparebank, although the individual elements can be very different.
In the beginning, there were many internal questions about the new profile, but after a while the sceptics became the greatest ambassadors. There is a strong belief within the bank that its external communication is exactly right and completely in line with who they are. Market research shows that the bank scores highly on being different and is regarded as creative, young, flexible and having a positive personality. The bank’s profile plays an important role in recruiting new employees. Young, talented people who are modern, innovative and customer-oriented are attracted by the profile.
In the past ten years, Sandnes Sparebank has experienced strong growth in the region and had continuously achieved new records up until the financial crisis hit. In a way, the bank has been a thorn in the side of large banks in the Stavanger and Sandnes region. The bank has now opened a branch in Vika in Oslo with the same profile and motto used in Sandnes, which focuses on small and medium-sized businesses and larger private customers. Sandnes Sparebank’s success is based on a steady course, where progression is not lost in visual identity.
Company: Sandnes Sparebank
Project group company: Ingrid Schøpp, Communication Manager
Project group design company: Graphic designer: Trond Fernblad - Text writer/idea developer: Håvard Dybvig - Art Directors: Kåre Mongstad/Elin Minde - Project Manager: Siri Furuheim - Adviser: Pål Hjorth Berge - macdesigner / project assistant: Katrine Skare Bakka
Award / year: Honours Award for Design Excellence - 2011