HSBC UK: No - they aren't having a laugh

EDITOR'S BLOG: The bank has shunned hipsters and history to go with a straight-talking rebrand.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 02 Nov 2015

Everyone is having a right old laugh at HSBC’s rebranding of its High Street bank to HSBC UK. I have a certain degree of sympathy for Messrs Flint and Gulliver, the bank’s bosses,  in this. I would imagine the whole process has taken many hundreds of hours of senior management's time agonising over the right move.

There are various routes this could have taken. One might have been to revert to the old pre-HSBC name: the Midland. This would have signalled a return to the good, wholesome, old-fashioned values of banking. A million miles away from the awfulness of Richard Caring and his sack of cash, recently withdrawn from the local private bank branch in Switzerland. A return to the days when you actually met a human being in the local branch - who knew who you are -  to discuss your overdraft rather than finding out you’ve been cut off by the ATM refusing you any cash, sucking your card back into its innards before flashing up an ad offering you Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).  They could even have used Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson from Dad’s Army in their Walmington-on-Sea office in the advertising. OK. maybe not.

They could have gone down the cuddly noughties route. Signed up a bunch of branding hipsters with a pool table in Shoreditch who would have re-named it Seed or Cherish or Squirrel. The app could have included nut-collecting games. But can you imagine the sneers that would have greeted such a move in the deeply jaded post-2008 environment?

No, HSBC UK it had to be and is. Plain, straight-talking and very Brummie - which will be its new home. And, before long, the mothership may well be HSBC Hong Kong if the outfit continues to feel so oppressed by a hostile UK government.    

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