Financial Logos: The Conundrum of the Cliche

12 Aug Financial Logos: The Conundrum of the Cliche

One of the pitfalls of any logo design is a tendency for it to seem a bit cliché in its appearance and character. What do we mean by this? Let’s first take a look at some of the most successful logos of all time. A handful of these can include such global powerhouses such as Nike, Coca-Cola, IBM, CNN or NASA. What do these all have in common? If you observe that they are memorable due to their simplicity in design and an innate ability for the consumer to immediately be aware of the services that they market, you are correct. However, even the simplest of logos generally took years to develop. A perfect example of this can be seen in Apple.

While many are unaware of this fact, the first Apple logo consisted of a rather complicated image of Sir Isaac Newton sitting underneath a tree (hence the reference to Apple). The image resembled a lithographic print and if anything, it seemed more appropriate for a 19th century enterprise as opposed to a cutting-edge computer manufacturer. Obviously, it was not long before this idea was scrapped and the more familiar apple gained global recognition. In other words, a complicated design is just as ineffective as a cliché. Unfortunately, the early Apple years displayed a bit of both. So, what do we mean by cliché?


Some of the worst cliches can be seen as a communications company which uses a speech bubble in its logo. Another example could be a research and development organisation which uses a light bulb in their identity or an international enterprise that employs the image of a globe. All of these designs will not nearly be as memorable and even worse, they can lend an air of “cheapness” to the company in question. So, it is obviously good to avoid an concepts that make use of a dollar or pound sign. There is indeed a fine line between effective and tacky.

Outside of the Box

So, it is obvious that traditional design methods need to be avoided. In the 21st century, innovation is key. This may not come easy, for there are very literally thousands of financial websites in existence. In turn, each is striving to capitalise on the aspects that make them unique in their own right. It is therefore a good idea not to become discouraged if the “light bulb” of inspiration (no pun intended) does not immediately appear above your head.

As always, simplicity is still the best (think of Nike or IBM as viable examples). In fact, overcomplicated designs are often the very concepts that breed the potentially fatal cliché. As with any brainstorming process, two heads (or more) are better than one. If you suspect that your logo may have an element of cliché within, it is great to seek the advice and opinions of others. Not only will this help you to avoid a potential pitfall, but they may very well provide you with the inspiration to take your design to the next level.