Monthly Archives: April 2023

Wise’s new branding reflects its shift in direction

Founded in 2011, Wise has long sought to challenge the financial status quo. Previously known as TransferWise (it dropped the first part of its name in 2021), the foreign exchange fintech allows people and businesses to move money between countries as well as spending money abroad.

Today, over 16 million people and businesses use Wise, saving them £1.5 billion compared to traditional banking fees last year alone. As it continues to make it easier and cheaper for more people in more places to use their money, the fintech decided its branding needed to better reflect its work.

Wise approached branding agency Ragged Edge to create its new visual identity. Rooted in the idea ‘The World’s Money’, the branding sees its existing wordmark and Fast Flag icon subtly recrafted for better legibility.

The agency decided to move away from the blue hue that has become a fintech convention over the last decade. Instead, green is now the core brand colour, in a nod to Wise’s previous green hued card.

A clear and confident tone of voice has been developed to be understood instantly by anyone in any language, while a new bespoke typeface, Wise Sans, incorporates letterforms inspired by scripts from across the globe.

The identity also introduces a new distinctive asset, described by Ragged Edge as a set of “graphic tapestries”, which fuses colour, imagery and texture to form a striking background for how the brand shows up both on and offline.

The design system is intended to be one of the most accessible in the world, supporting over 146 languages. Every design decision, including testing over 200 colour options, was made to exceed the standard requirements of WCAG 3.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

Given the scale of the project, Ragged Edge and Wise decided to adapt the traditional client-agency relationship, functioning as one team throughout the process. The agency’s creative director, Luke Woodhouse, says: “It ensured the results will flow through every part of the business and product, for the maximum possible impact.”

Cleancult’s new branding heroes the refillable

Robot Food was briefed to design branding that would counter any confusion around this, and make the refill/reuse process clear from the get-go. The Leeds-based studio created a series of central pack icons that hero each product’s ‘refillable glass partner’.

Another challenge was to lean into the ‘cult’ part of the brand name whilst avoiding the more challenging associations of the word. The team utilised a range of graphic devices such as symbols and a decorative logotype, and balanced this out with an overall feeling of playfulness.

The logomark in question is composed of shapely lettering, paired with a star-shaped glint that serves as “the finishing touch, the gleam in the clean”. Other graphic elements used in the branding, such as sunshine-esque rays, emphasise Cleancult’s “positive, aspirational elements”. Robot Food added in sans serif font Brandon Grotesque for body copy, and semi-serif font Nazare for titles.

The studio was equally playful with the brand’s tone of voice, expressing the more serious sustainable messaging through slightly tongue-in-cheek copy. Finally, the simple yet striking blue and white colour palette evokes a feeling of freshness and communicates the efficacy, with bold secondary colours used to represent different scents.

“With cleaning products, one way or another it can feel like you have to make a sacrifice – between conventional and natural, eco-friendly and tough on germs, lemony freshness versus dried out hands,” says Jess Cook, client director at Robot Food. “We wanted to show Cleancult as the full solution – something we can trust without fearing we’ve made the wrong choice for ourselves, or the planet.”

The Working Assembly gives Marin Living Foods a fluid new logo

Back in 2012, when plant-based milk was still a burgeoning market, it was hard to find an alternative that was additive and filler-free. This struggle inspired California-based chef Gaina Lieu to found her own plant-based milk company called Marin Living Foods, whose mission for over a decade now has been to provide the most natural and high-quality almond milk.

In an attempt to disrupt the alternative milk category, Lieu reached out to award-winning creative agency The Working Assembly to rebrand Marin Living Foods and help it stand out from competitors in terms of visuals as well as quality.

“The Working Assembly really nailed the brief, giving our beloved brand a fresh and much needed redesign,” explains Lieu. “Our premium small batch nut milks are so much more than the plant-based alternatives out there, and they really highlighted the differentiation in all of their strategy, copy and visual identity work.”

At the core of the rebrand is a new wordmark that uses custom script to mirror the fluidity of milk and contribute to a brand-wide playfulness through movement and motion. Here, clear legibility of the brand name is sacrificed slightly in favour of aesthetic distinction — even if you’re not sure what the fluid type says, it certainly stands out on the shelf.

This is further aided by a simple yet bold colour palette that helps to foreground the wordmark on the bottle. Pink, green, brown and off-white hint at the flavours of the respective milks (which include matcha, berry goji, and ube, among others) whilst juxtaposing nicely with the expressive type design.

Finally, the brand’s playful attitude is established through a “confident, cheeky, and strong” tone of voice that draws attention and highlights the quality of the products in a knowingly boastful way — ‘Defiantly Delicious’ reads the brand’s unofficial tagline, while one of its OOH adverts proudly declares: “Our bold flavours make the almond milk aisle a little less vanilla.”

Freeform’s rebrand reflects its commitment to new perspectives

Collins has worked with Monotype to create a new variable cut of Neue Haas Grotesk, which allows letters to twist, shift and wrap around themselves. It makes for striking branding when used in static imagery, but really comes to life in motion – which feels fitting for Freeform’s new positioning as a streaming service. Collins says it’s “a voice that invites you to look again and again”.

The forms of the type are echoed in other graphic elements, for example cut-out signage boards, windows onto characters, and stills from shows. Lettering is paired with a bright colour palette, that pits hot pink and slime green against more sedate tones of maroon, navy blue and forest green.

Freeform’s backstory is as twisty as its new branding, launching in the late 70s as a religious channel and undergoing various changes in name and ownership before becoming Freeform in 2016. According to Collins, its focus for the future isn’t just a young adult audience, but the kinds of stories that “are usually on the periphery”.

Beanstory’s Minimalistic Design 

Blok Design created the packaging for Beanstory, a direct-to-consumer bean brand. The brand is focused on connecting consumers with the impact of their daily food choices, and the packaging creates an accessible, intelligible space. The packaging design features an oversized illustration, representing both a bean and a “B” for the brand’s name. The kraft paper paired with transparent paneling on the side creates a mesmerizing experience while valuing minimalistic design and simple details.

Illustrations of Macbeth for whisky range

London-based designer Alexis Burgess has orchestrated a new whisky collection that draws on one of the playwright’s best known works, Macbeth. Burgess has been working with whisky for years through his practice Burgess Studio, whose clients are mainly in the old and rare Scotch space. As he grew more familiar with the dynamics between distilleries past and present, he found there were parallels between the industry and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with its “stories of allegiances and collective endeavour, but also ruthless ambition and intense rivalries”.

And so the idea for a Macbeth-inspired whisky collection was born. The collection comprises 42 whiskies supplied by whisky bottler Elixir Distillers based on characters that appear in Macbeth. The whiskies are being released across multiple ‘Acts’, nine of which are in Act One. It’s the first project from Burgess’ new company Livingstone, which he has launched as a space to work on concepts outside of his client-based practice at Burgess Studio.

Burgess enlisted none other than Quentin Blake to create the illustrations for the collection. He’s worked with the beloved illustrator for over 20 years on various books and exhibitions (as well as on James Blake’s 2016 album, The Colour in Anything), though the illustrator’s involvement in commercial work has become a rarity.

The contrasts within Quentin Blake’s work made him the perfect collaborator on the project, says Burgess. He points to his illustrations for Roald Dahl’s books, with their often dark undertones, which he says Blake could have tackled in several ways. “One of them is absolutely horrific and then there’s Quentin’s way, where he can retain the humour that Dahl has,” Burgess tells CR. “So if you think about it in the context of illustrating Macbeth for a project like this, he has the same sensibility. He can bring out the darkness of the characters without it becoming entirely morbid.”

Photograph shows the evolution of an illustration by Quentin Blake, which shows a black and white drawing of a bird next to a colour version
Images: Anna Olszewska

With the drawings complete, each character in the play was given its own flavour profile with the help of renowned whisky writer Dave Broom. These were given to Elixir to source whiskies that felt right for each character, before Broom created character descriptions for each whisky in the final selection.

Broom likened the whole experience to a theatre production, in which he worked with Elixir to “cast and produce whiskies as the characters of Macbeth based on Shakespeare’s writing, with Livingstone and Sir Quentin Blake as the artistic directors responsible for set and wardrobe”.

Jangle, a property portal hoping to transform the market

The property sector isn’t necessarily what jumps to mind when you think of interesting design. The houses may be beautiful, but the estate agents and listings websites that feature them very often aren’t.

Starting with the name, Anagram came up with ‘jangle’ as an onomatopoeic hint at “the noise of a full keyring” and as a play on the idea that Jangle is offering buyers “the keys to the whole market for the very first time”.

The branding is dominated by a warm orange colour palette that feels fun and inviting, as well as being a far cry from the minimal and frequently cold appearance of many property websites.

This is accompanied by a cast of illustrated characters that feel reminiscent of the kind found in newspaper and magazine editorials. They’re simple and friendly and reflect Jangle’s easygoing appeal. Anagram has brought these characters to life across a range of animations, where they search, in a relaxed fashion, for a new property.