FRANKFURT, Germany – Investment Banking group Deutsche Bank revealed their latest branding effort Monday which included a fully re-designed logo that company spokespersons have said aims to capture the “many arms of banking” and the “unending wheel of finance.” The logo has drawn controversy from some groups for its apparent similarity to white supremacy iconography. Deutsche Bank leadership has pushed back against the criticisms, stating that any perceived similarities to traditional symbols of Nazism or white power are a stretch and could not be further from the truth.
“We are proud of our brilliant new logo which took us two years to design and perfectly captures our firm’s next step into the future,” said Deutsche Bank CEO Heinrich Hemmler. “Every new branding effort is met with criticism, and we knew that would be the case with our bold new look. I do think though that critics are being a tad overly-sensitive to a logo that in actuality speaks to our Bank’s diversity and commitment to progress.”
The Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center believe that the branding could be a highly sophisticated dog-whistle (a symbol that appears innocuous to the general public, but tacitly communicates support to white supremacists). The organizations admit that in these edge cases the interpretations can be subjective, but they worry that allowing symbolism that even hints at racist ideology must be stamped out lest it grows into something more nefarious than just another logo.
“We respect Deutsche Bank’s historical commitments to racial equality and social justice,” said ADL representative Elijah Lahav, “at least from 1946 forward. But it is concerning that an organization as large as Deutsche Bank would not have examined whether the logo could be perceived by some as a symbol of white power. By design, these symbols are not explicit, and it can take a trained eye to catch the hidden meaning. We are disappointed that the bank, whether intentionally or not, has released a logo that could embolden some members of the white supremacy movement.”
Criticisms of the logo did not seem to translate quickly to the general public however. New accounts surged across the Southeastern U.S. and Eastern Germany following the brand announcement and shareholders have been generally pleased with the firm’s willingness to take a risk.
“I think what we have here is a final solution to the problem many banks face,” said Addison Hilda whose firm holds 15% of the active shares of Deutsche Bank, “namely a lack of a uniform identity that customers can claim loyalty to. What Deutsche Bank’s new brand provides is a symbol that customers old and new can identify with and say ‘I’d like to share a drink with that banker in a beer hall someday.’”