Bank Alfalah is the sixth largest bank in Pakistan. Owned by the Abu Dhabi Group which also owns Warid Telecom and Wateen, Bank Alfalah has been around since 1992.
The bank has been revealing a redesigned brand slowly and unsteadily over the past several months. But the process has just picked up steam with the launch of TVCs, print and outdoor campaigns. Featuring a new tagline, 'The Way Forward', the new brand does away with the long standing royal blue color and dons a bold red.
At the helm of this new effort is Alfalah's Chief Marketing Officer, Aly Mustansir, who has previously led the development of the HBL brand. A relatively quiet and benign fellow in the Pakistani brands space, Alfalah clearly wants to be regarded as a power brand, atleast in the financial sector.
Boldness is one thing that this new brand is unequivocal about. From the drastic color change, to the confident tagline, right down to the experimental approach to advertising, the brand makes its intentions loud and clear.
Starting from the visual brand, the new icon – an upward pointing chevron that doubles as an A – is a good start. And literally so. While it starts well, with its sharp edges, it ends up into a blob. A simple chevron would surely have been too commonplace so its understandable why the designers wanted some sort of differentiator, but this roundy cutesy treatment makes it look somewhat immature and, more importantly, is at direct odds with the brand's hard-hitting tone of voice and persona. Things don't get better with the typography. Oh, no. A VERY odd type choice of a semi-flared serif whispers Bank Alfalah shyly and without conviction. It feels like a placeholder for a bolder, more commanding typeface. It's almost as if the designer got tired of all the shading and shaping on the icon and just went with the first font Illustrator offered him.
The shape of the icon is turned sideways and used to hold imagery in a boring, lazy move. It also feels that the upward-pointing, future-oriented upright direction of the icon is being compromised here. The Alfalah Islamic Banking brand acts a sub-brand with its own teal color scheme.
The rollout has been slow and inconsistent, reliably killing any chances of some buzz and punch that this significant change, which comes rarely if at all, could have generated for Alfalah. An experimental, dark, but ultimately hokey advertisement adorns the main launch of the brand. The only memorable thing from the ad remains the unsettling uncle whose face we see only in the end. Like an ominous villain.
On the other hand, the TVC for the Islamic Banking brand is actually quite charming. Warm, emotive and sincere, it captures the sentiment of the new Alfalah brand much more successfully than the main ad does.