HSBC Merchant Services was a joint venture between HSBC and Global Payments, created to serve HSBC’s card payments customers in the UK. This meant both brands working together to provide a customer experience that was up to the established standards that customers expect from HSBC as one of the world’s largest banks. Card payments is one of the fastest growing and developing sectors within the financial services, with fierce competition from both established brands and Fintech start ups. Global Payments acquired HSBC’s stake in the joint venture, whilst retaining them as a strategic partner for card payment services, to further their stake as one of the leading card payments services providers, operating in 29 countries with over 8,500 employees.
The initial brief was to develop a brand identity for HSBC Merchant Services, a joint venture between two already established brands. This required the identity to be authorised by both HSBC and Global Payments brand directors, to work alongside their core brands whilst being distinctive in its own right. A highly competitive market required the need for unique, memorable elements to distinguish it from competitors, whilst the core HSBC and Global Payments brands required a more conservative tone. Once launched, the brand identity evolved and developed, including the transition from the HSBC Merchant Services name to Global Payments. Open Water have partnered with the Global Payments marketing team to create, protect and evolve the brand for roll out in the UK, Ireland, Malta and Asia Pacific, with the ambition of the brand to become ‘Europe’s most trusted acquirer'.
The logo for HSBC Merchant Services was already established in line with the HSBC brand guidelines. This meant that creating a distinctive identity and life for the brand had to be built around the logo not through the logo itself; a ‘no logo’ brief that still had the same requirements for building an identity that customers could trust and would engage them with the services. The HSBC brand brought a rigid conservatism to the brand, clearly defined logo style and application, whilst the Global Payments brand had little recognition within the UK. Part of our solution was to leverage the structure of the HSBC brand, the familiarity that helps to establish trust and security with customers, simple, clear logo application and type treatments. Alongside this we developed more unique elements including the brand ‘swooshes’, which were based on light breaking over the horizon around the globe, a graphic which brought a dynamic energy to the identity as well as a sense of the global reach of the brand. The movement and energy that these shapes bring gives a sense of anticipation and connects with an industry defined more and more by fast evolving technology and customer experience. These two sides of the new identity gave the branding a tone that was both established and trustworthy as well as forward moving and innovative. We rolled this brand out across all territories through offline and online channels, creating a distinctive tone and style in a very conservative market place.
After using the brand identity that we had originally created for several years, Global Payments acquired the remaining shares from HSBC meaning a change of name was required. Again we worked alongside the marketing team to develop a strategy and creative solution to communicating the name change, reassuring customers and engaging staff with the change to the business. Our butterfly transition concept showed clouds of butterflies morphing into shapes and messages that communicated the change whilst confirming that the day-to-day service would remain unchanged. This campaign made the change something positive that brought clouds of butterflies fluttering through the offices, events and screens of staff and customers throughout the time of transition, transforming a challenging change in the brand to something that brought further engagement with the brand.
We have continued to evolve the brand through all of its many applications, keeping a consistent and appropriate tone of voice that responds and adapts to changes in the business and the marketplace. This evolution has taken the identity closer to the core global branding which we continue to use as a creative tool to communicate the identity and personality of the brand and the services that are offered, helping to launch new sub brands and products that reflect innovation while being consistent with a global brand framework.