I know I sometimes tend to have the occasional rant. But banks really do it for me. Over the past year, many of the British ones have been, so called, 'refreshing' their brands.
The latest to do this is Nat West. Call me cynical but I can't be alone in thinking that all this is just a strategy to divert us from the fact that they have all been abusing their customers for years. Most are downright criminals, but will never see the inside of a prison. Suddenly we are all expected to believe their new slogans like "We are here for you", they now want to be our best friends. Barclays refer to themselves as 'Your Bank'.
Lloyds say " Because your family matters", RBS, "The bank that earns you trust". And back to Nat West, they are saying "We'll help you along the way" and "We know a helping hand is always nice". Just wait until there is an economic downturn. Where will your new friends be then?
How can the people that write this stuff look themselves in the mirror? It is unbelievable.
The new (not really) Nat West logo has three interlocking cubes. How original.
Hang on a mo, I walked around my neighbourhood in Clerkenwell yesterday and noticed this in a tile shop window. Pretty naff yes, and they are also using multi-coloured boxes.
And then there's the blocky multi coloured typeface.
Actually a bit like this.
Apparently, the idea is “... a gentle evolution of the brand rather than a reinvention.” With no doubt, a great deal of money behind the project, a little more research wouldn't have gone amiss.
And to support this Nat West rebrand they have produced the above commercial, get the box of tissues ready, hereit is.
Not so long ago we had Barclays feeding us with Loachian-style commercials centring on the loyalty of good old British football supporters in a variety of scenarios showing ordinary people cheering on Barclays-sponsored teams. “Thank you – you are football,”says Barclays as 86-year-old Everton supporter Billy Ingham sets off to see his beloved team play. Utter sentimentality to pull at the heart strings to make you feel all warm and cuddly about Barclays.
Meanwhile, behind the scene, banks have been cutting tens of 1000's of staff and closing 100's of local branches, all due to the crisis created by their criminal activity of miss-selling of protection insurance and all the other scams and schemes going back decades.
But of course, the banking top dogs (and they are always mostly dogs) continually increase their annual salaries and perks to engorge their already obscene amounts. And even if they are occasionally fired, they walk away with a mini lottery win in their pockets due to their watertight contracts concocted by top lawyers and accountants.
Hearing Teresa May on Wednesday telling us she is going to clamp down on this kind of greed is just pure waffle. We all know that absolutely nothing will happen. Yet more vacuous PR for a few sound bites in the media.
Now that the banks can no longer rob us under the radar, they are going to do it directly. Those of you with bank business accounts will soon receive letters informing you that you will have to pay for having your money in the bank. So not only will you receive no interest on your deposits, but you will now find yourself having to pay for every transaction and many other services that were historically free. Well, they need to pay for all this brand refreshing and topping up the top dog bonuses. But actually we, the gullible customer, will be paying for all that. What suckers we all are.
The greed and deception are so well ingrained in the banking fraternity that it is still filtering through and there are many more skeletons in the safe.
And they say we should stop bashing the bankers. I say get out the baseball bats. They are shameless. One also has to question the morality of our creative community in colluding in this kind of cynical subterfuge. Not a single bank has run a press campaign to say SORRY.
Meanwhile, across the pond, there is a fearless woman (my current heroine) Elizabeth Warren (above) who is taking the US bank robbers to task at the Banking committee Hearings. Just watchher dismantle the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, she is truly amazing.
The British Steel is one the great UK symbols. It was designed by David Gentleman in 1969 and was in use for 30 years.
Three years before, in 1966, this book was published...
It was part of a wonderful series of books published by Studio Vista. This one was written and designed by Peter Wildbur and a forerunner to the many logo books produced in recent years at an ever increasing rate. Simple clean and logical it still shines 50 years on.
I have been touched by the number of graphic designers, many I know and a lot I don’t, who have helped me with a very special personal project. But I still need help and I hope you will read this and chip in, no matter how small. Grab a coffee and read on.
Dear Graphic friends
This is very unusual for me so, I apologise in advance.
In 2001, I wrote an article about a graphic designer called Keith Cunningham. Link here, should you wish to read it.
He died in 2014 and spent a large part of his life teaching at the London College of Printing. Michael Peters, Dave King, John Hegarty, Fernando Gutiérrez and many others passed through his hands.
But he had an alternative life as a painter. He worked alongside his contemporaries and friends, Joe Tilson, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff as a student at the RCA in the early 1950’s. He received a First and a travelling scholarship.
During his RCA period, he exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, the Beaux Arts Gallery and, for two consecutive years, the prestigious London Group show; this culminated in Cunningham being asked to submit work for full membership to the group – he declined.
He then made the extraordinary decision to withdraw completely from any further public exhibition of his paintings. He continued to paint until 1960 and then locked away some 200 paintings in a warehouse where they remained unseen for 50 years.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, Cunningham’s wife Bobby Hillson (she ran the MA fashion course at St Martins shepherding John Galliano, Rifat Özbek and Alexander McQueen to success) now 89 she wants to exhibit a selection of Keith’s paintings.
She made contact with me, and to cut a long story short, I am donating my time and supporting her in helping to make things happen.
Unlike many of their talented students, they never earned very much but always privately celebrated in the success of their students. But staging this show is eating into Bobby’s meagre savings but she is determined to do it because she believed in Keith.
It occurred to me that many of us in the design world owe a debt to those who have encouraged, guided and inspired us. As it happens, I never went to art school But, I was very affected by this book cover designed by Keith Cunningham..
I first saw it in 1963 at my local library. I stole it. (Keep that to yourself).
Sometimes it just takes a little thing to make a big change, the cover did it for me. But I feel sure that many of you did attend art school and maybe never said thank you to those unsung heroes, the tutors.
I have always tried to view everything as a creative opportunity, and if you have read this far, I’m now going to get to the point. Would you consider donating £50 or £100 to help with the considerable expense of this show?
See it as a thank you to those who helped you along the way, but you didn’t get the chance to thank. You will be invited to the private view and have your name printed in the catalogue. Not a lot I know but you will make an 89-year-old very proud.
So, if you are in mood please contact me as soon as possible and I will explain where you can send your contribution, no matter how small.
I wrote back in 2012 about my view of the then range of posters produced for the London Olympics by 'Fine artists' rather than any British graphic designers, illustrators or photographers. The result was dismal.
Now in 2016 we have another 'fine art' collection of posters, this time for the Rio Olympics. Headed as before by Tracy Emin with the most inept and juvenile piece of work attempting to pass itself off as a poster.
I find it extraordinary that whoever commissioned the above stuff actually believes that it is great work?
You have to go back to 1972 Munich Olympics to see some decent posters.
This stamp of utter graphic simplicity was designed for Royal Mail in 1975. It was designed by Philip Sharland along with the other 3 at the foot of this post designed in the 1960's.
He attended Camberwell School of Art in the late 1940's early 50's where he met fellow designer Dick Negus. In 1951 they formed the design partnership Negus Sharland. The two worked on various graphic aspects of the 1951 Festival of Britain, including the Festival alphabet, still in place on the front of the Royal Festival Hall. Sharland left the practice in 1971 to work on his own.
FMR, standing for Franco Maria Ricci, was an international art magazine published by its namesake in Italy.
It first appeared in 1982 hailed as “the most beautiful magazine in the world”, by some and "rather pretentious" by others. But it certainly looked good, especially the covers. It was a bi-yearly, subscription only publication priced high to avoid having to take a lot of distracting advertising.
Franco Maria Ricci's intention was to present the beauty of art history and he referred to the magazine as "a sort of school for taste, for showing that the world is full of beautiful things." Publication finally ended in 2009.