LONDON – Barclays plc has rolled out a new, revamped Barclaycard Arrival card for the U.S. market. The card promises that you can earn all sorts of travel perks for signing up for their plastic. Just last week, they even had booths in major airports like Tampa.
But the card is missing any connection to the Barclays brand, and the bank’s iconic eagle has disappeared in favor of a sort of Blue Snake Orb (see image in collage at far right.) The snake orb is placed on a dreary gray backdrop that looks far more like some sort of TSA checkpoint badge than a smart, hip credit card for world travelers.
The problem is that the card’s whole graphic program makes it look like one of those cheapie banks from somewhere you’ve never heard of high borrowing rates, lots of tricks with fees and an awful logo, all wrapped up in an ugly graphic package that screams Community College InDesign project. That’s a shame, because the credit card is usually the most visible part of a bank. Even if it made little money for the back, the card is what everybody sees. The merchant, the cashier, the customer; they all have to handle the piece of plastic.
The card and the logo they are pushing looks nothing like what a Barclaycard should look like (see front of card here). In the states, we don’t have the history of Barclays like the U.K. and Commonwealth. Nevertheless, amongst people who travel (a target market for Barclaycard Arrival), that market does know Barclays, including that iconic eagle, and the Barclays Center is of course known to Brooklynites and sports fans. Barclaycard comes from the same vintage and era as James Bond, John Player Specials, Aston Martin and the Austin Mini Metro.
Such a missed opportunity. Even worse, the card is a MasterCard, and the Barclaycard was always associated with Visa, hence the blue and burnt yellow stripes. Questions. Why can’t a signature be on the front? Why not the eagle? Why not the stripes? Above all, why make it look like it is something right out of the Left Behind movie series? Of course, part of the issue with the previous version colors is that they are the old BankAmericard colors, but the issue is the orb, not the coloring.
Financially, this new version will do fine; credit cards are all about usury these days anyway. What is being missed is an opportunity to improve the overall Barclays brand, which has been tarnished severely. This is unfortunate, as the ONE think folks trust(ed) the British for is their banking.
Back in the late 80s, I remember an American who loved all things British. Somehow, and through some sort of banking relationship and extended trip, he scored a British Barclaycard, and was quite proud to pop it out in the U.S. to impress folks as he paid lunch checks. And it did impress. Just as snazzy as a B.A. Concorde, a Range Rover or a Barbour jacket, the Barclaycard spoke British, but was even more impressive because it spoke upper middle class (not nouveaux) British, so there was a bit of reverse snob appeal in the appeal.
That certainly wouldn’t be the case today.