The financial company HSBC owes its appearance to the Scotsman Thomas Sutherland, who lived in Hong Kong in the second half of the 19th century. One day he read an article on banking and decided that these were the services that local businesses need. With the support of a large business, Thomas created his financial institution. So in 1864, the first branches of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation appeared. And in 1991, a parent company called HSBC Holdings plc was founded. She headed all divisions on different continents.
Meaning and History
HSBC is now one of the largest banks with an extensive network that covers more than 70 countries. Its central office is located in Great Britain’s capital, and branches, united under one brand, serve millions of people around the world. At first, each of them had their logo, which indicated only the location and name. More recently, all companies have received one universal emblem with the image of red and white triangles.
One of the earliest graphic signs of HSBC looked like the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, complemented by elements from the colonial coat of arms of British Hong Kong. It contained a quadruple shield, lion, unicorn, and leopards. Above were crowns (one on the shield and the other by the lion), and below were two sailing ships, including a traditional Chinese junk. Not without Latin mottos: “HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE” and “DIEU ET MON DROIT.”
1983 – 2018
When the holding expanded its network, it needed a single symbol for all branches. So in 1983, the brand got its first universal emblem: a complex hexagon created by the Austrian graphic designer Henry Steiner. The abstract shape is based on the bank flag, inspired by St. Andrew from the Scottish flag. The black inscription “HSBC” stands for “Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.” It was on the left and consisted of serif letters.
2018 – present
To keep the bank recognizable, the designers have kept its iconic logo. All they did was move the abbreviation to the right, change the thin antique font to a bold sans serif, increase the graphic element and increase the red color’s brightness.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The flag from which the hexagon was drawn looked like a white rectangle divided into four parts by diagonal lines. Henry Steiner redesigned it a little and added two triangles on the sides. The geometric shape now resembles an open envelope with an hourglass in the center. But even with these additions, the six-triangle emblem continues to look like Hong Kong companies’ old flags. It also looks like the national flag of Scotland, where HSBC creator Thomas Sutherland is from.
The font for the logo of an international banking organization was created based on the classic Times Roman. The Times Eighteen typefaces are very similar to it (if you remove the serifs) and the Univers Bold lettering. All letters are capitalized and proportional.
The lettering is completely black, and the hexagonal shape is composed of red and white triangles. Three contrasting colors look great on a light background. If the background is dark, then the text can be white or silver, as mentioned in the official HSBC branding guide.