Michael Wolff is leading the rebrand and refurbishment of a Russian bank, working with NB Studio on a new identity and Urban Salon on the interiors.
A cartoon cat, Russian lace and hand-painted murals will all feature in the revamp, which Wolff says will see the bank’s name changed from Life Credit to Poidjom (logo pictured below), which translates as a friendly ‘let’s go’, or ‘let’s do this together’.
‘The name was partly inspired by my dad, who, when I didn’t want to go to school, would say “let’s go”, and somehow spirit me out of the front door,’ says Wolff.
The bank, the vast majority of whose employees are women, appointed Wolff as its creative director in 2007. Impressed by the ‘empathy and intelligence’ of its female staff, he envisaged a ‘domestic, authentic’ brand that would speak to ordinary Russians.
‘Many Russians get paid cash in hand and do not have bank accounts, but may need a loan to fix their windows in preparation for the coming winter,’ says NB Studio creative director Ben Stott. ‘This bank lends money to those people.’
Wolff was initially tempted to use Russian design groups, but was unimpressed by their skills.
‘Russian groups with Western-level skills just don’t exist,’ says Stott. In an attempt to compensate for their lack of local knowledge, Wolff and Stott consulted extensively with the bank’s staff, including the chief executive.
‘She is a big cat lover, and in research many people mentioned cats when we asked about domesticity,’ says Stott. A cartoon cat will be animated on customer screens during the loan application process, and will appear on walls and the front door (pictured).
Urban Salon’s interiors will feature hand-painted murals, the first created by one of the bank’s employees. ‘These skills are still part of Russian culture,’ observes Stott. Mural painters will be commissioned locally for other branches.
Referencing the ‘good front room’ still popular in Russian homes, which often feature traditional lace, the table-tops, privacy vinyls on windows and blinds will be printed with lace patterns.
The first revamped branches will open in St Petersburg by Christmas, with a roll-out of the new branding and interiors across Russia next year.