History of the Chase Logo

Courtesy of the JPMorgan Chase Archives

On November 21, 1960, the Chase Manhattan Bank began using a new symbol - an octagon – that is still the centerpiece today of the JPMorgan Chase brand structure. Created by the design firm Chermayeff & Geismar Associates, the Octagon is one of the earliest abstract corporate logos, influencing the widespread adoption of abstract corporate identities since its introduction almost 45 years ago.

Why did Chase adopt a new symbol?

The search for a new symbol began in 1959 when Chase Vice Chairman David Rockefeller selected the design firm Chermayeff & Geismar Associates to develop an abstract, contemporary, and universal symbol to reflect Chase Manhattan’s increasing global presence, and to accompany the bank’s new modern world headquarters under construction in Lower Manhattan – a sleek 60-story glass and aluminum office building.

At the time, the bank was using a complex and cluttered trademark that incorporated branding elements from the firms’ two main heritage banks, The Bank of The Manhattan Company and Chase National Bank, which had merged only five years earlier to form Chase Manhattan. Its current logo wasn’t easily read and was, therefore, perceived as ineffective. Chase wanted a symbol that would be more attractive and identifiable, and, at Rockefeller’s directive, the designers were asked to invent an abstract iconic form.

The Design

Chermayeff & Geismar created a logo that was simple, attractive, and timeless. This non-representational geometric form was thought to be best for several reasons:
> at the time there was no abstract, representational symbol of modern banking,
> a monogram using the bank’s initials would not allow for future name changes, and
> the new modern bank building under construction – One Chase Manhattan Plaza – was not easily identifiable as a representation.

The octagon was introduced in November 1960 to coincide with the completion of One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Along with new Chase Manhattan logotype, it was used in all advertising, publications, stationery, and signage. Press releases and brochures described the octagon’s dynamic design as “a simple yet powerful geometric form embodying a strong feeling of motion and activity. Although self-contained, it is divided in such a way as to suggest forward motion within the framework of control… the activity is centered around the square, implying growth from a central foundation…” At the time, one Public Relations Vice President noted, “When the symbol is established by constant use, we believe that people will identify it with The Chase Manhattan Bank at a glance.”

Evolution of the Logo

When first introduced, there were various interpretations of the octagon:
> four colors: brown, blue, green and black (with no significance attached to the palette).
> solid blue or black
> a design comprised of parallel lines
While variations in the color and typeface have been adopted over the years, the octagon has been in use continuously since its introduction, and remains an enduring symbol of the JPMorgan Chase brand. After the merger with Bank One, research undertaken by the firm concluded that the octagon is a strong symbol for our brand and one that the new firm should carry forward. The new identity currently under development will leverage the octagon while featuring a new word mark using a custom, modern typeface and more contemporary, distinctive colors.

©2005 J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. All rights reserved.