New Haven Bank

Building Throughways. Not Roadblocks.

New Haven, CT, needed a bank to meet the needs of the city’s small businesses and community development agencies. In 2010, they launched Start Community Bank, Connecticut’s first and only Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Years later, the bank’s management team felt the “Start Community” name no longer represented the bank’s true identity. As a CDFI, the bank had a responsibility to act on ensuring its branding still reflected its identity and core mission.

Services used on this project

  • Brand Strategy
  • Web Design
  • Analytics
  • Communications

Project Goals

The Ask: Develop a new name and brand to support the bank’s mission to serve as a catalyst for community economic development.

The Answer: Design a new brand identity and relaunch a campaign that bank employees, board members and the larger community can embrace. Here's how we made it an out-of-the-box idea.

The Process

To kick off the rebranding process, Pannos held a series of in-depth discovery sessions with the bank. Armed with fresh insights, our creative team explored directions designed to highlight the bank’s personality and connection to New Haven. Our clients settled on “New Haven Bank,” a smart, straightforward choice that better reflected the bank’s strategic direction. Once we finalized design for the logo (using a depiction of a local landmark – the recently built Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge), the website and other brand elements, we worked alongside the bank to ensure a smooth rollout, giving special attention to preparing customers and centers of influence for the upcoming change to avoid confusion in the marketplace and promote adoption of the new brand.

Key Insight: The bank’s leadership team believed strongly in the importance of growing with neighborhood families and businesses that share its vision of a vibrant community. In the months leading up to the brand launch, the bank notified customers via mailed statements and in-branch signage of the new name, look and website. We designed landing pages to address potential concerns while stressing the one thing that would remain the same — the bank’s unwavering commitment to the community.

Big Idea: Working with our New Haven Bank partners, we took extra steps to roll out a brand with a strong focus on community. To underscore that the new brand would pave the way for new opportunities for the whole community, we incorporated the message “Building Throughways, Not Roadblocks” in all the relaunch materials. Likewise, the bank decided to forego product promotions during the relaunch to reinforce their new “Working for you” messaging.

The Results

In an ever-changing banking world, the trend to reinvent and rename institutions to reach a wider audience has become increasingly prevalent. This certainly can be the bold strategic move that bears success for many banks, however, others choose to create names using obscure words with their audience often muttering “what does that mean?". In our client's case the real gutsy, outside-the-box move was to forego those temptations by meaningfully, and proudly, embracing the local equity they worked so hard to establish. In fact, our approach was to double down on the regional tenants that defined their core values and build on to the positive perception they had in the community and own it like never before. New Haven Bank employees, board members and customers all readily accepted the new logo, brand look, tone and feel. The icing on the cake? The bank saw a significant spike in awareness and traffic both to the website and local branches throughout the relaunch period.

“Our new name, New Haven Bank, more closely reflects our deep commitment to our neighbors and the growth of the community. Serving and bettering New Haven is central to all that we do. New Haven is our home, and we’re proud to now be New Haven Bank. The overall execution of this initiative was very well orchestrated by Pannos and the end result exceeded our expectations.”
Maureen Frank, New Haven Bank President and Chief Executive Officer
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