Commercial finance companies are notorious for blending in. They use the same tired cliches and pointless imagery to convey trustworthiness, wealth, and prestige. But these tropes are so overdone that they’ve lost their meaning.
The problem is that these branding choices are the equivalent of going to a party full of strangers wearing the same shirt as you. You’re not going to stand out, and no one will remember you. If you want your brand to be memorable, it needs to be distinguishable and memorable.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of typical cliches and tropes that are best avoided when creating your logo and branding materials.
1. The Handshake
Handshakes are a classic symbol of trust and partnership, making them excellent for many business logos. However, financial institutions often use them that they come across as generic or even cheesy.
If you use a handshake in your branding, make sure you do something to distinguish it from other typical handshakes used in finance branding—perhaps by using your hand instead of John Doe, CEO.
2. The Shield
The shield is another popular visual trope prevalent in financial services design. It might look business-like and professional, but it’s also dull and uninspired.
Shields can range from highly detailed heraldic designs to simple rectangles with rounded corners, but whatever their exact form, they’ve all been done before and should be avoided.
3. Bulls and Bears
Financial firms often use the bull and bear symbols for their logos, but these animals have become some of the most overused icons in commercial finance branding. Together, they represent the two sides of the market: a bull charging, pushing prices up and a bear swiping down, forcing prices down.
However, this cliche has been used so frequently that it’s lost its meaning and is no longer very effective unless you are actually talking about the market.
4. Dollar Signs
Another icon used so many times in financial services website design is the dollar sign. To put it mildly, it’s boring— especially when combined with green. It’s become so ubiquitous that non-financial companies have even used it.
People no longer want to see some cheesy dollar sign of coins or money bags as part of your logo design; they want something more authentic that speaks to your mission and values.
5. Graphs and Charts
Graphs are old standbys in financial services website design that, while still relevant, aren’t as effective as they once were because every financial company uses them.
If you look at the logos for any investment firm or financial institution, you’ll find a graph, chart, or icon that has to do with multiplication or growth.
These icons instantly convey ideas of success and prosperity and are instantly recognizable, even to people who don’t know much about finances.
6. Using Images That Are Too Literal
For example, if you’re an insurance company, don’t use an image of someone sitting at a desk getting insurance — it’s too literal and overly complicated. Similarly, if you’re selling a cloud-based platform to clients, don’t use a vivid image of the clouds. The imagery is too difficult to differentiate from your competition. It looks generic and doesn’t provide any insightful meaning.
7. The Gavel and Scales of Justice
When seeing this cliche, the first thing that comes to mind is the legal profession—not business finance. Even if your goal is law, this basic image doesn’t say much to your audience.
If, however, you want your brand to seem friendly, approachable, and reputable, cliche images like this will damage that reputation.
Check out Holzman & Dickriede – Attorneys at Law’s website to see how adding images specific to each case-type guides users to their next steps.
The finance industry is rife with cliches: a handshake, shield, dollar sign, graphs, and other patriotic images to evoke a sense of honesty and professionalism.
But when every company in an industry relies on the same cliches, it’s hard for your company to stand out. You can do better than that. The best financial services website design should have a unique identity to attract the right audience and form valuable business ties.