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Branding for Fintechs: Varied and Vibrant

Learn what there is to know about branding for fintechs

A financial institution is supposed to instill confidence. In its branding, it is supposed to be solid as a rock. Right? It’s not as bad today as it was right after the 2008 crash, but there’s still a widespread distrust of traditional banks, as well as some healthy general skepticism towards anything finance-related. Fintech is a massive market, and just seeming reliable is nowhere near enough. It might come as a surprise, but currently, branding for fintechs is both varied and vibrant.

Teaching Your Audience

In any market you need to explain your product, but it goes beyond that in fintech. Your branding, at times, needs to be downright educational. If your fintech is B2B, you need to explain in clear, straightforward, and concise terms, in how exactly does it help a business make more money (or spend less money). On this topic, we have a whole another article on how to make a website for a B2B product.

Stripe presents not only one of the finest examples of a B2B fintech website with visuals that are both colorful and not overwhelming, and perfect straightforward copy for the product — but also they often take the educational approach in their marketing, with newsletters and articles with sound financial advice

On the other hand, we have B2C fintechs. Most people out there simply aren’t financially savvy. You’ve probably heard, once or twice, someone say, "why did they teach us trigonometry in school instead of how to fill out taxes?". You’re going to have to explain some things, and show how your fintech helps to deal with them (without coming off condescending).

Robinhood makes investing accessible, and their branding is just as accessible as their product — "Investing for Everyone"

Yet, if you do aim at a savvy audience, say, investors with years of experience and an extensive portfolio, this educational aspect of your branding doesn’t go away. You need to show them that you’re just as knowledgeable and more, and that your product suits this knowledgeable audience.

In our brand identity for Vauban, we blend sophistication with style. Look at this Swiss-inspired website coupled with the bold color scheme. You can check out the Behance case on the project here

Types of Fintechs

There are all kinds of fintechs: neobanks, billing and payment software, crowdfunding, all kinds of crypto-related things, etc, etc. What matters from the branding perspective, is that they fall into two broad categories: those that need to seem trustworthy, and those that need to seem exciting.

The visuals for the Palantir Investor Relations page are both subdued, yet fascinating

These are not mutually exclusive: no brand wants to seem unreliable (especially in fintech), and no brand wants to be completely dull. The difference is in which one is more important for a given fintech. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Moreso, this division isn’t dependent on the type of fintech: one neobank might want to seem sturdy and reliable, while another is just entering the market, and might first want to seem thrilling.

ANNA mixes the straightforward and friendly copy with the suiting visuals. And that kitty is just the cutest
In our project for DeFi Alliance we’ve created a whole another world. The identity is based on terraforming, and we show with DeFi Alliance’s help these startups will transform the tomorrow. You can check out the Behance case on the project here

Establishing Trust

For a while, all the fintechs that wanted to seem reliable used blue as the primary color for their visual identity (and not just fintechs, most products with the same goals for branding as solid, reliable, neutral). It doesn’t work anymore. It’s been done to death. Unless you’re Revolut, don’t stick with white background and blue accents (and even Revolut doesn’t do that much anymore). If you do, your audience will feel the same emotion towards your branding, as one does towards the paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period, and we don’t mean the feelings of appreciation for great art.

Revolut’s website in 2020 and Revolut’s website today

That was a bit of a hyperbole. Using white background with blue accents has been overused for a reason: it works. The branding won’t excite anyone, but it is solid and can solve your branding goals.

Stacks. Often enough, crypto-related projects show themselves as the alternative to traditional markets, which results in bold and exciting branding. Depending on your goals, going for more straightforward branding in this market and working off the contrast might be a good idea

But you don’t have to stare at this digital blue and wait for some gift of sound and vision. A fintech can brand itself as sensible and dependable without resorting to that default option. Some examples:

Kron with its soft colors and the pitch-perfect use of photos leave us feeling warm and fuzzy inside
With the right colors and the friendly illustrations, the crowd sharing platform Ko-fi is amiable and approachable
CMA provides complicated products — solutions that help big financial institutions all over the world. In our project for them, every product has its own shape, inspired by the Japanese wood-carving technique Kumiko. You can check out the Behance case on the project here

Money is Exciting

As we’ve established, the traditional approach, the knee-jerk response to the question "what should branding for something finance-related be like?" is "solid, reliable, neutral". That being the default response is in itself a good enough reason to go against the grain and go for something exhilarating. Of course, the real reasons to do so are a lot more practical. The first one being that all the fintech markets are booming, and if you’re just entering one, you need to stand out.

CLEO gets right in your face
The Australian Beforepay is bold and memorable, all while maintaining the right amount of friendliness to it

The second reason being your audience. Quite a lot of fintechs are aimed at people who would groan and roll their eyes at the word "fintech". Yet, those very people still use digital banking, and they’re subscribed to some podcasts on Patreon, and some of them might even dabble with crypto, just a little bit.

Klarna. Buy now pay later platform with hot pink for accents in its visual identity, goes bold in style. And they have commercials featuring Snoop Dog!
SushiSwap. Unlike a lot of traditional products that became fintechs, crypto doesn’t have a history or something physical to tie it down to — so, crypto fintechs might have to reach for visual metaphors. But as long as it’s bold and tasty, it can even be something like neon sushi
Lemonade. The cute illustrations and the soft and unexpected pink accents are refreshing
Billi is another great example of the current trend on friendliness in fintech branding — and it works. As long as you don’t consider it just a bit too cutesy
Our brand identity for Bravecash just won’t stand still. You can check out the Behance case on the project here

Outro

Looking for a universal solution for branding goals in fintech is a waste of time. While there are some patterns in fintech branding, like the current trend on appearing nice and friendly, it’s a huge and varied market — where playing it safe doesn’t work anymore. You need to keep in mind your audience and your exact goals. And don’t be blue.

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