GWCM commissioned to create a brand and name


Last month Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills announced the next stage of plans for a new lending facility aimed to support small and medium sized business. The British Business Bank intends to attract private sector funding, so that when fully operational, it will provide support for up to £10 billion of new and additional business lending.

Back in 2012 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill (BIS) set out to find a suitable creative agency to work on the development of the bank’s corporate identity. BIS invited responses from a number of companies enrolled in the Government’s Growth Accelerator Programme. The Growth Accelerator programme is aimed at high growth potential companies that are ambitious enough to achieve success on their own, but with the help of Growth Accelerator they are able to get to where they want to be faster.

Creative agency Gavin Willis Creative Marketing (GWCM), based in Northampton, have been part of the Growth Accelerator scheme since May 2012. After responding to the opportunity, GWCM were commissioned to originate research and recommend a suitable name for the bank for parliamentary approval. As well as creating an appropriate and flexible logo to reflect the banks ethos and values, BIS also needed a set of brand guidelines, which would address the usage across a multitude of marketing platforms.


To help determine the name of the new bank GWCM organised a range of focus groups to gain in-depth qualitative information. This research involved working with key BIS stakeholders and a sample of SME’s. The process began with an open forum workshop involving the stakeholders, to generate a list of possible names to take to the focus groups. In the workshop the partners discussed the objectives of the bank, determined who the target audience is and generated a list of keywords to stimulate ideas.

From this, particular keywords were eliminated and a list of suggested names were put forward to the SME and Finance focus group. After an extensive process the words ‘bank’ and ‘business’ were the two most popular options, and the full name ‘British Business Bank’ was approved at ministerial level.

The agency then presented several initial logo options to the bank and in turn these went through some developmental work until a final design was agreed. The chosen logo is made up of two elements, the typeface and a symbolic icon of ‘Britishness’. The icon has been developed from a small, almost abstract section of the Union Flag. The graphic has been cropped from the flag and refined to form an arrow, which points upwards reinforcing the positive stance of the bank’s vision and values. GWCM made sure the icon had the ability to stand-alone and work independently.

Ensuring a smart, responsible personality meant that the typeface needed to be distinctly legible. We chose to use a typeface called Soho Gothic, which is a mature and refined typeface that would perform well as the backbone of a global corporate brand. The font designer, Sebastian Lester, is a London-based type designer, typographic illustrator and artist. The font has a clean, precise, uncluttered form. The agency chose to use both ‘regular’ and ‘light’ font weights to subtly emphasise the word ‘Business’ and to help reinforce the banks positioning of ‘Unlocking finance for smaller businesses’.

Pete Simpson, Head of Strategy at GWCM says “Playing a vital role in the journey of something so important from start to finish has been a great opportunity for Gavin Willis Creative Marketing, who feel privileged to be involved in such a high profile project.”

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