May 2008 Archives

May 14, 2008


What have I learnt from CEC Bank rebranding?

There are many differences between a rebranding that costs a five–six digit figure and one that costs an exceptional 150,000,000 € (over a three years time span)—like CEC Bank rebranding does.

Here are the findings I've learned from this job.

You’re alone (I)

Fore once, there’s not a person in the country that has ever worked on such a massive change (nod to Bruce Mau), so there is nobody acknowledged enough to give an educated advice. When it gets this big, you’re alone.

You’re alone (II)

Rebranding state-owned entities is not a common task. Brandient had before CEC Bank a solid experience in this class of business ownership (TVR, Radiocom) but not at such magnitude (1400 locations, 6700 people) nor in such a competitive category.

Seen from abroad things can be clearer than seen from Bucharest. Tony Spaeth of Identityworks puts it like this:

This is a uniquely 21st Century branding story—the reinvention of a government-owned bureaucracy, to compete in the marketplace with some of the world's sharpest marketers.

When it gets this specialized, you’re alone.

Not design, but design strategy

As the big league guys are very well aware—but I wasn't until now—at this magnitude the designer's job shifts from designing items, to designing examples for those who will design the final items.

This means that a designer has to focus on devising a working design strategy that can deliver down the road consistent brand mechanics.

Decoupling direction from final execution means hard control on the direction but only soft control on the execution of individual items—that’s in the hands of third party designers, architects, advertising agency, web agency, producers, constructors etc. Very frustrating sometimes.

Old words

Patriotism is not a fashionable word these days, I know, but rebranding the oldest Romanian bank implies that, too. And other old words: dignity, honor, pride. There are jobs and then there are jobs that build your character.

Malevolent judgment

High profile rebrandings trigger copious reactions—like full moon does to lunatics on the loose—here and elsewhere. That's normal. But I've read a couple of ill-intended articles in the papers. Not criticism—I’m talking about full-blown mala fide here. There are people out there that might need doing a little soul-searching before going to sleep at night, God bless their mean little hearts.

Legitimate assessment

How do you know that you’re on the right path? Or the wrong one, for that matter. Luckily, there are prominent international figures like Tony Spaeth, who can fully comprehend the intricacies of such a job legitimately assess its resolve.

Quoting from his CEC Bank case review:

It's hard to imagine a "before" brand as trivial, as cartoonish, as the old CEC coin-in-roof symbol. This redesign takes it leap years forward in sophistication, yet at the same time back to its 1864 foundation. Virtually overnight, CEC Bank is credibly a global competitor (at least in image), yet retains the home-field advantage.

This is how I know we’ve done our job right.