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MerCury’s wings and the four winds
The four winds
This has been the bank’s trademark for over 30 years, appearing on letterheads, in advertisements and on neon signs. The four winds symbol, representing the wind from the four points of the compassed, is based on a wind rose and consists of four angled elements with a rounded base, placed together to form a semi-circle above a small circle. This logo emerged in the early 70s when Commerzbank entered into a cooperation agreement with a number of other European banks. A number of surveys conducted in the countries in question revealed that the four winds logo, the brain-child of a French agency, was the most popular symbol of the new Europartners group. Commerzbank introduced it in December 1972,explaining that it was intended to portray the open attitude of the bank and its partners to the world. It was also seen as representing focussed strength and a varied range of customer services.
The colours chosen for these were black or cobalt blue on a yellow background, traditionally Commerzbank’s colour. This was a concession in that at that turbulent time Commerzbank
dropped its previous logo, a capital letter C with Mercury’s wings on it. Mercury, or Mercurius, was the Roman god of trade and commerce, and of thieves, and in late antiquity was equated with the Greek god Hermes. The son of Zeus and the nymph Maia was often depicted as the messenger of the gods, with wings on his shoes and helmet, and with a herald’s sceptre. Hermes was the god of travellers and merchants.The letter C and the wings were introduced in 1940, when the bank’s name was changed to Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft. It had in any case been generally known by this name, but the creation of an individual logo was probably the response to marketing assuming an increasingly important role in the banking sector. In adopting Mercury’s wings, Commerzbank – established mainly by Hamburg merchants and private bankers – was emphasising its Hanseatic origins and the purpose of its foundation: financing trade, especially in the SME sector. The three successor banks established in 1952 likewise used Mercury’s wings as a symbol in their post-war reincarnation. One of them, the Bankverein Westdeutschland in Düsseldorf, actually used a statue of Mercury in its advertising.
CDB and CPB
Looking even further back for the bank’s first logos, we find the abbreviations CDP and CPB.These stand for the earlier names Commerz- und Disconto-Bank (up to 1920) and Commerz- und Privat-Bank (from 1920 to 1940). The letters were intertwined and often surrounded by a circle bearing the name of the bank. At the beginning of the 20th century, the red-and-black emblems were used on the seals then affixed to correspondence. During the 1920s and 1930s, the combination CPB also came to be used generally to represent the bank.
the colour yellow
The various symbols and their development are also a record of how the bank has changed. The current logo, the four winds, has also been subject to changes and varying interpretations. For many, it initially suggested the sun. This positive aura was a plus for the bank in enabling it to present itself to customers as a strong, friendly organisation. In 1984, an advertising campaign actually used the sun, and cobalt blue gradually disappeared from the logo. In addition to black, various shades of grey were now used more frequently, and the main colour was yellow. This became the colour characterising Commerzbank during the 50s, not least of all because yellow has a strong impact and is often seen as a warm, appealing colour. The bank’s 'own’ colour and logo thus developed a close symbiosis.