Branding the Bank That’s Not a Bank

Founded in 2018, Wise is a digital-first banking and payment service for the modern small business. They’ve accomplished what others are still attempting—bridging the gap between the modern business’s financial ecosystem and the banking system.

Embedded into customers’ existing business ecosystems, Wise brings transparency, ease, fast cash flow and anticipatory services to help businesses grow. But what they were missing was conveying that experience, and the mission and values that drive it, throughout their brand.

Fintech startup, Wise, were poised to disrupt the business banking industry—but needed to quickly establish a strong brand identity.


A fresh brand identity that acknowledges its role in the business financial ecosystem while reflecting its unique value and experience. Brand guidelines which connect values to experience, ensuring consistency in creative expressions, from logo use to marketing executions.

Building a brand strategy

Wise had recently entered the market with basic brand work in place. They were going public soon with a large announcement, but in studying the recent successes of other startups, they saw that those companies all had something in common: they already had strong branding at their foundation, even as new organizations.

"The team was incredibly invested in capturing what it means to be Wise."
Arjun Thyagarajan, CEO and Founder, Wise

We synced immediately with the Wise team, and not only because of how quickly we work. We also shared the belief that a brand is built from the inside out—through how others experience it. And Wise also appreciated the way we link strategy, visual design and service design.


Starting from the values

In our first workshop we worked with the Wise team to identify the most important aspects of the brand: forming a persona for designers to bring to life. While the Wise team came into the project with values in hand, we helped them to see how those values could be communicated to their clients.

Design Principles was a critical deliverable from the strategy work. Along with the rest of the brand guidelines, it not only ensured a consistent brand experience, but created a common language and objective approach to discussing what was Wise and what was not.

Building an identity through the logo

The conceptual roots of Wise’s visual design were the many rough sketches of logos participants drew in the second workshop. It was one of several exercises designed to transition the brand from something abstract and conceptual to something tangible and alive. A structured and guided approach to the design process helped the client recognize where their feedback should and shouldn’t focus on during these review sessions.

And by referencing the brand strategy they co-created, the Wise team was able to evaluate work through an objective lens rather than fall back on personal preferences and values.

Unleashing the visual identity

The new Wise logo became, literally, the basis for the entire visual identity. Its design references the product as a modular system embedded in a greater business financial ecosystem, so its shapes act as building blocks for unlimited creative applications. Its color palette both placed the brand within its market and gave it a distinctiveness reflective of its disruptive experience and value.

Wise brand guidelines documented proper usage of both visual components and written communication, and included multiple examples of marketing and brand collateral from which to draw both guidance and inspiration.

Leveraging the brand immediately

The Wise team, thoughtful and focused throughout the work, wasted no time in taking their new brand out into the world, referencing their new strategy and brand guidelines to produce creative work for social media and editing communications.

"It was amazing to work with an agency that knows how to act on feedback and truly fulfill our brand's vision."
Arjun Thyagarajan, CEO and Founder, Wise

We hope to continue our collaboration, leveraging our brand guidelines and expertise in service design to hone the overall brand experience, including the product.

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