Lost logos

The recent decision by the Hellenic Post Bank to change its logo, corporate identity and name says something about they way Greece’s large companies see themselves and their history. Scrapping the widely recognizable logo, the creation of a Greek designer in the 1960s was an aesthetic blunder. The almost naif double T in a combination of blue-and-yellow colors aims to project a modernist mood, but is more reminiscent of a ferry boat funnel. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one may say, but the new image and name also reveal a certain stance toward the organization’s history. It’s as if the bank wanted to break with the past, rather than emphasize its long reputation of credibility. Other historic firms have redesigned their logos, most often with poor results. A few years ago Emporiki Bank organized a costly campaign to switch its classic logo (Bodoni font and the head of Hermes) to a nondescript Emporiki logo printed in banal font. IKA, the social security foundation, has also lost its identity. The City of Athens shed the goddess Athena to take up a vague emblem with military, if not fascist, undertones. ELTA, the Hellenic Post, just saved Hermes’s head in the company logo but adopted an ugly font. It may be a coincidence, but none of the modernist changes has been accompanied by economic success. Most certainly, an organization cannot stay unchanged through time. But modernization does not necessarily mean shedding years of success and public trust. Highly recognizable brand names and historic logos should not be abolished. They should be updated or enhanced but never abolished – unless the aim is to erase memories of some major disaster. We are anxious to see the new National Bank logo.

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