I literally grew up watching this wonderful symbol around me, the logo of the State Bank of India (SBI), a renowned nationalised bank in India and pretty famous too. And personally, I love researching about how icons and logos come into existence.
I always admired the blue logo for its simplistic design and deduced from my own observation & contextual understanding of the business that it depicted a ‘keyhole’, which signified ‘security’ and ‘preservation’. Whatever the case may be, as I advanced my career in design I was even more curious to know who the creator of this elegant logo was. Then in the 90s, Sudarshan Dheer published the first version of his book ‘The World of Symbols/Logos and Trademarks – India’ which had the best logo artworks along with the SBI logo, but credit was given to the National Institute of Design and the original designer continued to remain anonymous. Until recently, when my pursuit ended with a Quora post from the designer himself which I discovered quite accidentally. And his name is Shekhar Kamat.
Here’s what he had to say about the SBI logo, in his own words:
I had designed this logo in around 1970 at NID. State Bank of India was then and even now the largest bank in India, hence it had many branches in rural India. My thought was to design a simple logo. In those days bank counter had round token with hole. So the idea was to shape logo as simple as the token. Round blue shape was to signify strength, protecting your wealth. Also simplicity of circle could help even one man bank manager in remote part of india to put sign drawn by any painter on mud wall. All you required was a nail, tread and circle can be easily drawn. Colour blue was selected to match indian sunny blue sky. Of course I didn’t write this (my inner idea) at the time of presentation of this design. Certainly inspiration didn’t came from kankaria lake. Sorry to disappoint those who thought it did. But it seems like it has lasted 45 years and i think it looks pretty up to date. Simplicity has it’s own charm!