Allfirst: banking on your imagination

August 08, 1999|By Lisa Pollak

It's not a laptop computer. It's not a checkbook. It's not a pizza box or a chair or a duck.

Believe it or not, the new logo for Baltimore-based Allfirst Financial actually depicts "a new dawn's light streaming through an opening," according to a statement on the recently renamed company's Web site.

Company spokeswoman Anne Bennett acknowledges that some customers may have other interpretations of the modernistic design. "But that's not a bad thing," she says. "My take on it is that it's like the Nike swoosh. It wasn't a tennis shoe and it wasn't a piece of sports apparel. It was just this abstract piece of art."

The Allfirst logo -- white and orange geometric shapes against a blue background -- was introduced at the end of June, part of the $10 million process of creating a new identity for First Maryland Bancorp and its subsidiaries.

The symbol grew out of discussions about the mission of the corporation, said Melissa Kalish, a managing partner at Interbrand, the New York brand consulting firm that developed the new name and logo.

"The concept of sunlight coming in through an opening is a very emotional and perhaps unexpected position for a financial services institution to take," Kalish said. "It's a very human view. It's meant to suggest a personal approach, hope, light, warmth and aspiration.

"Our feeling was that by providing something suggestive, people would feel what it is but they wouldn't be boxed into something. It makes it very human because it is subject to a degree of personal interpretation and ensures that everyone can feel a part of it."

In other words, go ahead and use your imagination.

We did.

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