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Using the outer grid of the HDFC Bank logo the bank has created physical markers on the ground to help people maintain the WHO-mandated social distance while waiting in a queue at a shop or an establishment.
Using the outer grid of the HDFC Bank logo the bank has created physical markers on the ground to help people maintain the WHO-mandated social distance while waiting in a queue at a shop or an establishment.

Brand logos turn social distancing messengers

  • The innovation is a part of the Safety Grid campaign which has been launched in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar
  • McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Audi and Volkswagen have tweaked their logos to promote the message of "social distancing"

NEW DELHI: Logos are sacrosanct for brands but now these are increasingly becoming tools to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Using the outer grid of the HDFC Bank logo, the bank has created physical markers on the ground to help people maintain the World Health Organisation (WHO) mandated “social" distance while waiting in a queue at a shop or an establishment.

Created by advertising agency Leo Burnett, the innovation is a part of the Safety Grid campaign which has been launched in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar. ‘The Safety Grid’ will be painted in front of the space leading to 4,000 retail outlets such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and ATMs, among others.

“In this hour of need, when the nation is fighting the pandemic, we have decided to put the bank logo, known to millions of Indians, on the ground, for their safety and protection," said Ravi Santhanam, chief marketing officer, HDFC Bank.

Logo of Volkswagen
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Logo of Volkswagen
Logo of Audi
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Logo of Audi

Logos are often regarded as sacrosanct in the branding fraternity. HDFC Bank believes it is fighting for a bigger cause.

"We are honoured that we are able to use our logo to send a message across to the people. The cause that we are fighting for today is much greater than any marketing rules and norms," Santharam added.

McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Audi and Volkswagen have also tweaked their logos to promote the message of social distancing. Tyre brand Maxxis also redesigned its logo changing letters XXI colour to make it read as Roman 21, for the 21-day lockdown which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Logo of McDonald's
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Logo of McDonald's

According to brand expert Sanjay Sarma, co-founder and chief executive at Design Worldwide, the HDFC initiative is a creative idea if only people can recognise the logo as it is only the outer part of the design.

"Having said that, it’s a very creative idea. Just that the execution needs to be on point. Also, it helps if such activations are amplified through digital ads or videos as well. That way they can reach people who are not stepping out from home, through some share worthy content," he noted.

Calling the campaign clever, Naresh Gupta, strategy head and managing partner at advertising agency Bang in the Middle, said they used the logo in a perfect way.

"The pandemic is such a massive issue that whatever brands can do will go a long way in convincing their audience that social distancing will work. Most brands did the most obvious, but for most brands to change their logo is not easy as well," he added.

Communications consultant Karthik Srinivasan doubts if outside of a HDFC branch, these would have any recall whatsoever.

"HDFC has no actual artefact for people to remember it by in this instance. It's a logo, and that too, half the logo, without the name. And people step on it, stand on it. Does HDFC assume that people think of the bank while stepping on it? And that it may perhaps lead o some goodwill? I seriously doubt that stretch of imagination. People are simply stepping on to some notion of distancing," he said.

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