VMLY&R COMMERCE Tears Up Retail Design Rule Book for Georgia’s Leading National Bank, TBC Bank

TBC bank redesign
“Future Business Ready” concept to roll out across 139 branches nationwide

VMLY&R COMMERCE UK, in partnership with brand strategy consultancy type, has unveiled a sweeping new retail design for TBC Bank – post-Soviet Georgia’s leading bank and top five Lovebrand. Launched in capital city Tbilisi, the new design is set to roll out across 139 branches nationwide.

The refreshing “ready for the future of business” concept redesign is far removed from current financial design which borrows heavily from non-business sectors such as shops, clubs and homes.  “We call this approach Bank+ to encapsulate the idea of banking in an open and democratic way”, said Richard Hartle, Creative Director, VMLY&R COMMERCE UK.

Tearing up the traditional “one look” rule book, the new modular design invites TBC branches to localize an overarching look and feel for their specific communities.  In this spirit, local Georgian artists decorate interior walls with powerful street art. Softer color palettes with modular, light furniture offer a warm and welcoming experience – all underpinning TBC’s new vision “Making People’s Lives Easier”.

This break from rigid financial services design convention allows branches to adapt to future new products and services including customer co-working space; after-hour events; new digital hubs. Branches are “ready for the future of business”.

Retail design where culture is critical

Triggered by converging factors including rapid changes across customer behavior, Georgian society and politics, and in the financial services category itself,

TBC Bank launched  a new brand vision “Make People’s Lives Easier” along with new brand values: “freedom” and “human”.

Cultural context was critical. Following Soviet Union collapse, Georgia has navigated independence, emerging as a youthful, forward-thinking nation, characterized by dynamic architecture, design-led cafés and hotels, vibrant arts and literature scene, and a genuine sense of excitement.

The brief

With this new vision in play, VMLY&R COMMERCE was challenged to think beyond look and feel, to consider how the brand behaved in its physical space. Specifically, to transcend commerce and genuinely make people’s lives easier. With some of society needing reassurance and education around the relatively new financial services category, space needed to harness the new TBC brand position and offer new services with less formality, relevance, and, greater empathy. 

The design solution in full

Breaking from convention and allowing branches to reconfigure locally, design is adaptable, furniture and fittings are lighter, mobile, and tactile, with flexibility to change space for after-hour events. There is refreshed spatial arrangement for added services such as public co-working spaces. Individualized street art, visible from the street, created by Georgian designers such as George Bokhua decorate interior walls with powerful color statements.

The warm welcome extends to the exterior with new timber fascias featuring signage in the brand’s famous light blue. Glass frontages signal openness, allow visibility of the timber to carry through to the interior – visually and emotively drawing customers in.

Customer shared spaces are bright, energetic, and welcoming, with natural materials and light colors. Digital walls and screens feature localized content, while custom-designed desks and Arper furniture deliver functional comfort.

Wayfinding and graphics link to the TBC app – neatly referencing the digital progression TBC is spearheading with customers.

Moving through branch zones subtle changes emerge. For instance, rich, sophisticated tones introduce space for SME and affluent customers. These tones are visible from reception areas, delivering both aspiration and democracy: ambition is never out of reach. 

Bespoke and modular furniture balance the nature and vibrancy of the brand in material and color palettes to ensure consistency and differentiation across zones.

VMLY&R COMMERCE UK Creative Director Richard Hartle concludes: “With a shift towards digital banking services we expect to see queues in banks to disappear. Yet despite the move towards digital platforms, we believe that branches will continue to play a vital part of our future. People’s desire for human banking will not change. This is where the flexibility of our spaces plays a key role -with warm and welcoming experiences both digitally and physically.”