The anatomy of
a winning fin-tech brand

New financial technologies, like mobile banking, peer-to-peer lending platforms, blockchain-based payment systems, and intuitive finance apps are taking over the market. Certain fin-tech products have disrupted the banking industry and paved the way to enter new digital-only payment solutions that had to look and feel different from the financial institutions. They have a loyal following and vocal brand advocates, but heres the question - what makes them different from other financial institutions and other fin-tech products?

In this article, we will cover the key differentiating factors of fin-tech products such as what problems are they solving, differentiating identity and design, brand messaging, and user experience goals. Brand case studies of Monzo, TransferGo, eToro, and Nubank will show how these points tie together into a successful fin-tech product and what actionable steps to take in order to create a successful fin-tech brand.

Let's go!

Fin-tech brand vs Traditional Bank brand

Neo banks or Challenger banks look and feel different from the traditional
financial institutions. Why?
The core differentiation between disruptive fin-tech products and traditional banking is human-centered problem solving and fin-techs are a great example of how to change industry using technology and design.

In general, fin-tech products offer better ways to manage finances. Traditional banking customers got used to wait in queues, fill forms, pay transactions fees, get high exchange rates, etc. Fintech's have already proven that banks can exist without physical branches, offer cheaper (or even free) transaction fees and make services easy and more understandable.

Fin-tech teams started raising human-centered questions - how can we solve this problem using technology, make the solution easy for the end-user, and create a disruptive product that improves life. It's brand strategy at its finest - balancing problem-solving for target users and communicating solution consistently in every touchpoint from communications to identity, to user experience.
Fin-techs ask how can we solve this problem using technology

Brand Messaging

Brand Messaging is language used in your content. It's what makes
person relate to your company because it's clear, persuasive, motivational,
and well, sticky. Ultimately, it makes users want to use your product.
Fin-tech messaging stands out from the traditional banking institution. The way products talk to their audience is as much a part of their identity as their visual cues. Every word adds up to people's perception of who they are, what they do, and why it matters to the user.

The tone of voice of a fin-tech is usually human-like, friendly, and open. Products tend to use communication tone similar to friend-to-friend interactions, by doing so products build trust with the user and simplify product message to make it clear. Human-like interactions are key to remove the fear of digital-only solutions and create a rapport with the audience right away, because if the communication confuses, frustrates or scares user, the trust can be lost in seconds.

Many fin-tech products use shortenings and jargon to explain complex financial terminology to the user. For example, instead of "Request", product uses the word "Ask", instead of "Assistance" uses "Help", instead of "Funds" uses "Money".
Fin-techs talk to their audiences in their language

Visual Identity

Visual identity is all the things the person sees about the company.
Cohesive identity expresses values and ambitions of a company, its
characteristics, audience.
Typically traditional banks have classic-looking logos consisting of monograms, solid colors, abstract icons, a good example to illustrate this is HSBC. While this approach creates a solid and trusted image it lacks a feeling of innovation, ease of use, it does not look modern and technologically advanced. To most, it raises memories of queues, formalities, filling forms, etc. So this is why fin-tech companies are looking to break from these associations.

The fin-tech brands logos are bold, multi-color, use vivid color schemes, and distinct icons. They look and feel digital. Typefaces consist of friendly-looking sans serif typeface families, commonly title is written in lover-case. The overall brand look and feel is friendly, inclusive, modern, technology-driven, playful, and caring.

While traditional banking brands create trust through imagery, photography, and reassurance of trusted service, fin-tech products create trust through clear messaging, friendly and easy to understand graphics and illustrations, step-by-step visual onboarding process, and importantly a brand identity that feels digital and inclusive.
Fintech logo designs

User Experience

It is the overall experience of a person using a product, especially in
terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.
Mobile apps for traditional banks typically are just an extension of the bank experience. Apps often offer only the core basics of bank services, they are not easy to use and usually still require a login on a computer to get a full list of services or even a visit to a bank at some point. This is where fin-tech products shine.

What fin-techs do right is rethinking and reinventing old. Mobile apps are stand alone products that contain everything a user could need from the product, and are designed to make things easy for the user, not the company. That means every touchpoint of the product is redesigned and improved.

A good example for improving user experience is to rethink how easy it is to sign up and open an account. "Built for Mars" counted - It takes 5x less effort to open an account with a challenger bank comparing to a traditional bank, and user can do it with a mobile phone within 45 clicks. That's impressive.

But most clearly the UI/UX shines the comparison of the design of a traditional bank vs a fin-tech product. Take a look at the comparison.
Fintech UI design

Case studies

That's not to say that the traditional banking companies aren't catching up.
Many are late to the game and have lost portions of their user base.
Case study: Monzo branding

Monzo is one of the oldest of challenger banks in the UK that operates without branches with a digital-only product. It offers a mobile-first current account with almost little to no fees, an intuitive user experience, and a youthful vibe.

Monzo knows that if it wants to connect with its users, it needs more than just the right colors and graphics for their brand. The complete brand experience and the image is conveyed in every touch-point the user experiences, and having the right tone of voice can be crucial to creating a personality that users can resonate and trust their finances with.
How does Monzo look like?
The Monzo logo is a bold M letter monogram with a friendly-looking bold lowercase sans-serif typeface.
How does Monzo speak like?
Monzo slogan is "banking made easy".
When Monzo communicates the language is cheerful, youthful, transparent, confident. Monzo recently shared their voice of tone guidelines, it is worth checking them out:
Monzo branding overview
Case study: Nubank branding

Nubank is the largest fin-tech in Latin America and surprisingly so few have heard of this 12 Million user giant. It was founded to make banking in Brazil a better experience for customers and now the bank aims to disrupt markets with a purpose to fight the bureaucracy in the financial system, reinventing what banking means for Latin Americans.

Nubank offers credit cards, personal loans, and savings accounts by smartphone without the need for physical documents or branch visits, at more competitive rates with almost little to no fees. The Nubank brand strikes a balance between bold and supportive. The brand experience is consistent throughout user journey - from sign-up to the payment - simple, encouraging and empowering.
How does Nubank look like?
The Nubank logo is an outline monogram on two intertwined letters N&U with a friendly-looking light lowercase sans-serif typeface.
How does Nubank speak like?
Nubank slogan is "the future is purple!".
When Nubank communicates, the language is helpful, youthful, transparent, and confident.
Nubank branding overview
Case study: eToro branding

eToro is a social trading and multi-asset brokerage company that focuses on providing financial and copy trading services. It's branded as a social trading platform, and it aims to enable users to trade almost anything from commodities, currencies, stocks, and indexes to cryptocurrencies through one web-based and mobile platform.

eToro's branding strikes a balance between bold, supportive, and serious. With a bright color palette of lime green shade and playful logo it differentiates itself from the competition.
How does eToro look like?
eToro logo is based on sans-serif word-mark, and features a symbol for bull's horns. The design is inviting, youthful, and challenging the norms of the trading industry.
How does eToro speak like?
eToro slogan is "Trade with confidence in the world's leading social trading platform". When eToro communicates, the language is instructional, confident, encouraging.
Etoro branding overview
Case study: Klarna branding

Klarna is an e-commerce payment solution for merchants and shoppers. The platform offers direct payments, pay after delivery options, and installment plans in a one-click like purchase experience.

Klarna aims to create a positive purchase journey with alternative payment options that are easy to use, convenient, and give "financial control" to shoppers. Klarna's brand and messaging strategy, featuring rapper Snoop Dogg, is centered on the smoooth services. The brand is bold, creative and by far the most unique in the fin-tech sphere.
How does Klarna look like?
The logo design is based on sans-serif wordmark. The design is modern and vibrant the norms of the trading industry. The identity uses pink as its accent color, which is completely unexpected for a money-related company Klarna also uses a custom-created typeface that adds playfulness and uniqueness to the brand experience.
How does Klarna speak like?
Klarna's slogan is " Smoooth Payments" (it's not a typo, smooth with an extra "o"). When Klarna communicates, the language is be helpful, understanding, and quirky.
Klarna branding overview
Case study: TransferWise

TransferWise is a British online money transfer service that allows people to send and receive money safely from abroad without the high fees added by most banks. TransferWise promises to deliver international payments from Europe within 24 hours – compared to 3-7 days for a regular bank.

Transferwise understands that a brand is not just a logo - it is a complete system of how the company looks, speaks, and acts, because cohesive brands are recognized more quickly, and trusted more readily. The brand is essential to the TransferWise experience and the team cares about every detail — from the photography insubway ads, to the tiniest typography in our UI.
How does TransferWise look like?
The logo design is made of two parts and features a flag, and the customized typeface wordmark "TransferWise".
How does TransferWise speak?
TransferWise's slogan is "The cheap, fast way to send money abroad". When TransferWise communicates, the language is personal, human, transparent, confident.
TransferWise branding overview

Final thoughts

Branding a fin-tech company or a product presents a unique set of challenges. There's an essential coldness to technology and finance that can only be overcome by powerful, human-centric brand experience. It was time to toss out the old standard that had been established for generations and break the pattern.

Fin-tech branding took inspiration from some of the most successful technology companies outside of the financial sector because it found a balance between intuitive design and brand experience. They succeeded in changing the audience's understanding of finance, they placed their users' needs first, simplified the processes, language, and offered a better service over traditional financial institutions. Finance branding thanks to fin-techs now has a friendly face.

Overall many fin-tech brands are doing things right, they prioritize brand value, user experience, talk with the audience in their language, and in general offer a product that beats traditional finance institutions. The ones who don't... end up without awareness, traction, and investments.

If you want to raise money, reach product/market fit, or want to improve user acquisition or retention - you need a team that gets that and helps to solve challenges through strategic design and branding efforts.
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