Chase Manhattan Bank Logo History

Chermayeff & Geismar Associates moved to the forefronts of the corporate identification movement in 1960 with a comprehensive visual image program for The Chase Manhattan Bank of New York. Chase Manhattan's new logo design was composed of four geometric wedges rotating around a central square to form an external octagon. It was an abstract form unto itself, free from alphabetic, pictographic or figurative connotations. Although it does have general overtones of security or protection because the four elements confine the square, this trademark demonstrated that a completely abstract form could successfully function as a visual identifier for a large organization. A distinctive sans serif typefacewas designed for use with the logo design. The selection of an expanded letter grew out of Chermayeff & Geismar's study of the client's design and communication needs. Urban signage, for instance, is often seen by pedestrians at extreme angles, but an extended letterform retains its character recognition even when viewed under these conditions. The uncommon presence of the expanded sans serif form in the Chase Manhattan corporate design system launched a fashion for this kind of letterform during the first half of the 1960s. Consistency and uniformity in the application of both logo and letterform enabled redundancy, in a sense, to become a third identifying element. The Chase Manhattan corporate identification system became a prototype for the genre. It led many corporate managers to seriously evaluate their corporate image and the need for an effective and unique visual identifier. The rapid recognition value gained by the Chase Manhattan mark indicated that a successfull logo could, in effect, become an additional character in the inventory of symbolic forms that every person carries mentally. Tom Geismar observed that a symbol must be memorable and have ''some barb to it that will make it stick in your mind.'' At the same time, it must be ''attractive, pleasant and appropriate. The challenge is to combine all those things into something simple''.
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