Alumni Newsroom

This Month in History: Introducing the Chase Octagon

Ever wondered how Chase got its iconic Octagon logo? The answer lies in the year 1960, which marked the start of a new decade and a shift at the Chase Manhattan Bank. The bank was constructing a new headquarters building that would eventually tower over the financial district in Lower Manhattan when it opened in May 1961. The new building was the first step in Chase’s transformation. The second was the creation of a new corporate logo.

At the time, the Chase Manhattan Bank logo was featured multiple elements, including a map of the U.S. and a globe with the following phrases: “Chase Manhattan Bank,” “World-wide banking,” and “Chartered 1799.” The logo’s complexity made it almost unrecognizable, and therefore ineffective. The executives at Chase decided a new corporate symbol was needed, which would reflect the new modern era and coincide with the opening of the new headquarters.

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In October 1959, up-and-coming New York design firm Chermayeff & Geismar was assigned the task of creating a new symbol for Chase. Contrary to popular urban myths, it was not inspired by a cross section of a water log, nor an ancient Chinese coin. The design reflected Tom Geismar’s creativity and his answer to a modern, yet whimsical logo. The Octagon represented a single unit with separate parts, just like Chase Manhattan Bank.

The Octagon logo was officially introduced on November 21, 1960 and appeared on buildings, stationery, advertisements and on various bank memorabilia. Today, it’s fair to say the Chase Manhattan Bank executives had excellent foresight as their sleek, yet simple, Octagon logo has truly stood the test of time.

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