A Wise Move — What A Good Rebrand Looks Like

When TransferWise became ‘Wise’ in 2021 the name change was one piece of a larger rebrand. What made it a success?

10
March 2023
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Brand Refresh

International money transfers are notoriously time-consuming and complicated, not to mention expensive. Fintech, TransferWise, was founded to make international money transfers easier for everyone. It’s built as a non-banking platform capable of replacing international banking — and today used by more than 10 global banking institutions. 

Ten years in, the founders decided it was time to change the TransferWise brand. The name change and wider rebrand were needed to better represent the audience the company served — people and businesses living multi-currency lives who need their money to be borderless. 

At Khula Design Studio, we’re in the business of brand refreshes and we’re also a Wise customer. That’s why we’re fascinated by their recent brand transformation — what they did, why they did it, and how other businesses can learn from their success. 

From TransferWise to Wise

What’s in a name? Quite a lot as it happens. 

When it was first founded, the TransferWise name reflected a community of people getting wise to the frustrating, complicated, and expensive business of international money transfers via banks. Escaping hidden fees and exchange rate mark-ups, TransferWise promised a fairer and easier way to move money between borders. 

Today, the company knows it’s about more than money transfers. That’s what their community of millions tells them. Converting money into different currencies is still complicated and dominated by small print and delays, but the Wise community has evolved. They’re very aware of an outdated international banking system, which makes exchanging money more costly and time-consuming than it needs to be.

They’ve become Wise.

Looking good in green

Let’s start with the one thing that hasn’t changed. The ‘fast flag’ — which symbolizes money without borders — is still a part of their logo. Every other brand asset has been reworked to better reflect the company’s global community of people and businesses.  

Gone is the dark blue palette and dark themed website. The new brand identity embraces shades of green — the color of money, the color of the natural environment, and also a reflection of the diverse and vibrant community that uses Wise every day. 

The brand now has a cleaner, brighter, and more environmentally friendly look and feel, switching to greens and whites that make it feel more international, and more universal. In the words of their London-based branding agency, Ragged Edge: “Every other part of the visual and verbal system has been painstakingly redesigned with The World’s Money as the guiding principle.”

What’s a rebrand?

When an organization rebrands, it goes through the process of changing its established image and identity in the marketplace. Rebranding involves making carefully considered changes to the name, logo, design, and other visual and messaging elements to create a new, differentiated brand identity and perception.

The purpose of rebranding is to create a distinct and compelling brand identity that resonates with customers and helps an organization achieve its strategic goals. Updates to a brand's identity might be needed to reflect changes in the market, industry, or customer preferences, or to better position the brand for growth and expansion.

Organizations are often rebranded for one or more of the following reasons:

  • increased competition
  • shifting audience demographics
  • changing industry expectations
  • new products or services 
  • outdated branding
  • ineffective marketing methods.

Ultimately, rebranding is a strategic approach that seeks to create a fresh and relevant identity for an established brand. This move helps brands to stay competitive and thrive in a constantly evolving marketplace.

What’s a brand refresh?

Compared with a full rebrand, a brand refresh involves updating an established brand's visual identity, messaging, and customer experiences in a more limited and cost-effective manner. While rebranding may involve a complete overhaul of the brand's identity, a brand refresh typically focuses on smaller changes that help keep the brand relevant and up-to-date.

A brand refresh may involve updating key messaging, visual elements, and customer experiences to better reflect the current market, audience, and competitive landscape. This can include updating the brand's visual identity, refreshing the brand voice, and ensuring consistency across all touchpoints.

Businesses may opt for a brand refresh when they recognize that their visual identity is outdated or their messaging and offers have evolved. It can also be used when a brand is experiencing inconsistencies or has a changing audience due to growth or other factors. A brand refresh helps to create a modern and relevant brand identity that resonates with customers and sets the stage for future growth.

Both a brand refresh and a rebrand update a brand's identity, messaging, and customer experiences. A brand refresh is a smaller and more cost-effective approach, whilst a rebrand is a more extensive overhaul of the brand's identity and could involve brand strategy, a new name, logo, design, and messaging. A rebrand can sometimes signal a change in direction, an attempt to address negative perceptions, or a move to simplify and streamline a brand’s identity.

5 reasons why big brands refresh or rebrand

There can be many reasons behind changes to a brand. Here are 5 commons reasons why big brands refresh or rebrand: 

  1. Relevance: As consumer preferences and industry trends evolve over time, brands may need to update their visual identity and messaging to stay current and appeal to new audiences. Refreshing a brand can help keep it fresh, modern, and attractive to customers.
  1. Differentiation: If a brand's competitors have similar branding or messaging, a rebrand can help it stand out in a crowded marketplace. By creating a unique visual identity and tone of voice, brands can differentiate themselves from competitors with similar offerings. 
  1. New Direction: If a company is pivoting its business strategy or expanding into new markets, a rebrand can signal to stakeholders that things are changing. It can also help build interest and generate a buzz.
  1. Negative Perceptions: Sometimes a brand's reputation can become tarnished due to negative publicity or a misalignment with consumer values. In these cases, a rebrand can help shift perceptions and rebuild trust with customers.
  1. Simplification: Over time, brands may accumulate an inconsistent library of visual elements and messaging that can become confusing for people. A rebrand can help simplify and streamline a brand's identity, making it easier for customers and stakeholders to understand and engage with the brand.

Why Khula gets Wise

As a Wise customer, the team at Khula were fascinated and impressed with their rebrand. We use Wise daily to pay subcontractors around the world. We also use it for clients who are abroad and need to pay easily and quickly. 

The app is super intuitive. It saves us and our payees so much time and fees! Normally, funds arrive within 48 hours, sometimes the same day. For a small international business like us, it’s also way cheaper than using a traditional bank. To be honest, when it comes to moving money internationally, it’s been the saving grace of Khula.

At Khula Design Studio, we help small and medium-sized businesses to rebrand and refresh. Together with our brand strategy partners, we reframe how your business shows up, refreshing your brand identity, messaging, and online presence. 

Get in touch to find out how we can help evolve and transform your brand. Book a complimentary call today! And if you're looking for a fast way to send money internationally or travel with money without the heavy costs and headaches — head over to Wise.

Sources:

Images by wise.com

Rebrand by Ragged Edge

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Worried your brand is falling behind, but you're not sure?

Here's a quick checklist to find out.

  1. You created your brand on a Commodore 64 - okay, that may be too far back, but you get the idea - your graphics are outdated.
  2. Your website still thinks it rules the playground, hates change, and refuses to play nice with mobile devices - in other words; it isn't responsive.
  3. You have trouble uploading your logo to any social media sites while making it look good - can't they make that square any bigger? Honestly.
  4. Your messaging says one thing while your business is doing another - basically, your business has evolved, but the story you're telling hasn't.
  5. You're losing customers because you can't tell them "at the speed of light" what you do - yes, that's how fast you need to capture someone's attention.

If you answered yes to any of the above, don't worry. We won't judge, but you're probably ready for a brand refresh. Not a complete overhaul, just an update. Because design trends change, technology keeps improving, and buyers are getting savvier and smarter. And brands, yours included, need to stay ahead of it all or at least keep up.


Every Brand Needs Refreshing.

For some, depending on the nature of their business, it could be quite often. Just look at Google. They seem to be doing it every day! We're not suggesting you go that extreme, but you could take a cue from MasterCard's subtle but recognizable brand mark evolution from 1966 to 2019.

Not all of Mastercard's re-brands were successful, but we won't talk about those because, in 2019, Mastercard did get it right. They didn't change their brand or what it stood for. They simply made it better by adapting their brand mark or logo to meet current trends.

In a bold move, they removed their name in printed form, letting their iconic overlapping red and yellow circles do the talking. They now have a "flexible modern design that works seamlessly across the digital landscape." When explaining the decision, Raja Rajamanar, Mastercard's chief marketing and communication officer, said: "Reinvention in the digital age calls for modern simplicity." Bam. Instant relevance.


That's What KHULA Does.

We're Brand Refresh Specialists.

KHULA helps brands stay true to who they are while giving them a new and improved image. In a nutshell, we help brands that feel tired, worn out, and a bit irrelevant get the revamp they need to keep growing their business. While updating your brand might seem daunting and overwhelming, we assure you it's not.

It's one of the most important things you could do for your business. Plus, it feels incredibly satisfying once you have a new website with on-point branding that represents who you are and what you do.


For A Successful Brand Refresh, You Need Expertise In Branding, Marketing, And Design.

Not everyone is at Mastercard's revamp level, but the foundational elements of the process for most businesses, big and small, are the same. A good brand refresh usually includes the following:

Brand Audit: This is a thorough analysis of an existing brand that uncovers its market position, target audience, competitors, and overall brand perception.

Research and Insights: Gathering market research, consumer insights, and industry trends informs the brand refresh strategy.

Strategy Development: To develop a comprehensive brand refresh strategy that aligns with the company's goals, it may require refining brand positioning, defining the brand personality, and establishing the brand's unique value proposition.

Visual Identity: Often seen as the "fun stuff", designers and creative teams collaborate to update or refine the visual elements of the brand, such as the logo, colour palette, typography, and overall brand aesthetics.

Messaging and Communication: Refreshing a brand isn't just about updating visual elements; it also includes updating messaging by crafting or refining brand messages, taglines, and brand voice to ensure consistency and resonance with the target audience.

Implementation Guidance: This involves implementing the brand refresh across various touchpoints, including marketing materials, website, packaging, and other brand collateral.

Stakeholder Engagement: Strong collaboration with internal teams and stakeholders must be established to ensure a smooth transition and alignment throughout the entire brand refresh process.

Brand Guidelines: Brand guidelines or style guides are created to provide instructions and standards for maintaining the refreshed brand identity across different platforms and communications.


When It All Comes Together, Brand Image Is Improved, The Target Audience Is Reached, And Business Objectives Are Achieved.

We'd say that's a pretty stellar outcome.

If your brand is losing its shine and starting to feel left behind, we can help.

We'd love to walk you through our brand refresh process and make your brand come alive again.

Want to explore some of our award-winning brand refreshes? Check them out here!

What's A Brand Refresh Anyway? It's Your Brand. Only Better.

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Brand Refresh

A lot of businesses forget to focus on design and customer experience (CX). But those things are what sets them apart from competitors. They’re both really important pieces. That’s something that Trimble Group Founder, Toby Trimble, knows all too well. He was looking to transform his video production company into a specialist animal health communications brand. 

Toby knew he needed to niche down and build stronger engagement with his target audience. The question was: how? Not only did collaboration with Khula Design Studio give ‘Trimble Productions’ a new name, it provided a professional new brand with the power to shape perceptions in the animal health sector. And it also received some prestigious recognition from the design community.

Toby and Jamie caught up on all things design in an episode of the Trimble Group’s ‘The Future View Podcast'. Read the summary article below or listen to the full 30-minute episode.

First impressions matter

Jamie and Toby first met in a breakout room on a coaching program. Having both started businesses at exactly the same time — Khula Design Studio and Trimble Productions -– they hit it off from day one. 

Jamie’s background is a mixed one. He was in operations and logistics for a long time before stints with a number of award-winning design agencies. For the last seven years, he’s been in the design industry, focussed on branding and web design

Jamie combines his project management and design experience as Founder of Khula Design Studio. Khula is a boutique design studio helping small businesses and non-profits around the world refresh their brand image and online presence, and elevate both online and offline perceptions of brands.

As a self-proclaimed ‘solopreneur’, Jamie wears many hats. He knows all the ins and outs of running a business. Khula is not his first — it’s number 10 — and he’s a serial entrepreneur who loves working with startups, small businesses, and other solopreneurs. 

He’s well aware that when you go to someone’s website, or you check them out on social media, those visual elements quickly paint a picture in a person’s mind. Jamie and the Khula team help small business owners to feel proud and confident of their brand. 

“The small guys are the ones often unseen or unheard. A lot of startups want a DIY approach and to do everything themselves. I want to help small businesses reshape brand perceptions online.”Jamie Windell Founder, Khula Design Studio

Day to day at Khula Design Studio

Jamie oversees a team of creative contractors, acting as a single point of contact for clients. It’s slightly different to a typical agency model. It’s smaller scale, and more boutique. Jamie handles everything from brand strategists and UX/UI designers to copywriters and SEO specialists. 

He’s the glue that holds it together — a project manager with an eye for design — delivering high-quality, on-time, and on-budget brand and website design. He helps clients navigate these technical aspects to unburden clients from the challenge of getting it right for themselves. One of those clients is Trimble Group.

KHULA Design Studio x Trimble Group

Six months ago, Jamie and his team helped Trimble Productions transition into Trimble Group. Toby knew Trimble Productions needed to niche down into the veterinary and animal health space. So Toby and Jamie jumped on a call to identify the gaps in the brand. 

It soon became clear that the website wasn’t all there. Many of the brand's ideal clients are large pharmaceutical companies. But the design, color choices, and web copy of the old site were mismatched with this target audience. It needed a refresh, and a change of look. 

The first thing was to focus on strategy-led design. That meant unpacking the brand positioning to discover its true North Star — how Trimble needed to show up, its values, what makes it unique, its tone of voice, and its ideal customers. It also included a naming exercise with Toby’s team, which landed on the capture-all — ‘Trimble Group’. 

Jamie works with different industries and clients. The challenge was to better understand the landscape of the veterinary and animal health space, as well as Trimble as a business, how it operates, and its clients. Knowing how Trimble works and who they serve, set the Khula team — six to seven creatives — on the right design path. 

The early mood boarding and concept designs were tested internally to ensure the symbol and word mark were a match with the ideal audience and created a sense of trust and loyalty whilst retaining a veterinary feel. 

The web design started with wireframing — the structure of the website. The User Experience (UX) designer put together the pages, helping to create an intuitive flow, the user journey, and the menu navigation. Then they worked on the User Interface (UI) bringing in Toby to collaborate on the process. It gave him an idea of the real look and feel of the pages before it was brought to life. 

Wanna see the full transformation and case study? Click here

Making a visual impact

“What makes this website really special is showcasing the work that Trimble Group does. We wanted to ensure that the new website showcases that visually… high-end quality video production.” – Jamie Windell Founder, Khula Design Studio

The response to the new design was positive. Jamie and his team brought in a lot of video into the design – hovering on cards triggers a video; background videos play in the hero sections; pop-up videos appear over certain facts and stats. There’s also a powerful storytelling flow, making it easy to read and navigate through the website.

The new design has helped Trimble Group to show up as they truly are. It’s given them confidence in who they are and what they do. And it shows.

Trimble Group’s Webflow website have been recently recognized by an honorable mention from awwwards. Voted on by a panel of creative experts — made up of designers, developers, and agencies — awwwards enables digital designers to demonstrate their talent and experience to the global design community.

Both KHULA Design Studio and Trimble Group are delighted and proud by the announcement. 

“One of the things that came out of this project is that I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of user experience… what I hadn’t realized was how deeply ingrained the customer experience, the customer journey, is in every touchpoint. Working with Khula has made me realize how much more there is we could do — how we can take it even further.”  – Toby Trimble, Founder, Trimble Group 

Discover what Khula can do for your startup, small business or non-profit. Book a call with Jamie

Jamie Talks Design & Rebranding - Future View Podcast

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Brand Refresh

Tastes change. People move on. New innovations come along. Whichever industry you’re in, whether your small business is online, in-person, or both, giving your brand and website a makeover can help you kickstart a new chapter whilst keeping true to your roots.  

What is a brand refresh?

A brand refresh is a strategic update to a company’s visual identity and messaging. For many small businesses, it’s a way to stay relevant to their target audience and keep up with the latest trends in their industry. 

On one level, brand identity signals a company’s relevance and position in the market. If their competitors all have fresh new looks, then theirs will look increasingly outdated by comparison. To keep the competitive edge, it’s important to periodically refresh the brand. 

Refreshing your brand is the perfect way to assess and adjust your brand’s visual identity and voice across various touchpoints with customers. It’s a way of re-aligning how you’re perceived to ensure you maintain the right resonance with your target audience. 

To maintain a lasting connection with your audience, your visual identity and messaging needs to grow with them. It’s important to evolve your brand’s look and feel to avoid stagnation, and signal a marked change in direction, vision, or growth.

Rebranding versus brand refresh 

If a brand refresh is about the evolution of a brand, then rebranding is all about revolution. With a refresh, your brand slowly evolves; with rebranding, you rip up the brand rulebook and start again. 

When a company undergoes rebranding, they significantly change the look and feel of their brand’s identity. Rebranding requires a deep dive into the organization, getting right under the hood to overhaul the company and its positioning, mission, vision, and values.

Watch this short video for a simple explanation of the differences between refreshing and rebranding by Col, from Rock Your Brand.

Rebranding is generally done for one of two reasons: 

  • Firstly, when a company makes a proactive choice to rebrand, they typically do so in conjunction with a planned change in direction, to engage with a new or wider audience, and set a new strategic path. 

  • Secondly, when businesses take a reactive choice to rebrand, they usually do so to distance the company from negative perceptions or to differentiate it from competitors who may be gaining the competitive edge.

In contrast, the reason for a brand refresh is usually to modernize existing visual elements, like the company logo, website, brand fonts, colour palette, icons, and imagery. For many small businesses, it can be difficult to decide whether the time is right to refresh and also how to go about doing it. Bringing in a brand consulting specialist is always a good place to start. 

Need help with your decision-making around refreshing your brand? You might be interested in our blog post about knowing the right time for a brand refresh.

What should a brand refresh include?

An effective brand refresh runs deeper than simply polishing your visuals. For it to make an impact, it needs to be aligned with your wider vision, mission, and core values.

At the same time, you need to ensure that it matches with your customer and employees’ experience of your brand. There’s little point pretending your business is something it’s not. It might be your company brand, but it’s the people who choose to do business with it, and the people who work for it that truly own it.  

For that reason, a brand refresh is likely to include:

  • A brand audit: A checkup on the health of your brand in the marketplace, evaluating its strengths and weaknesses and how to improve it.

  • Competitor analysis: A study of your competitors will reveal how to differentiate your brand from theirs, including things like brand colour, tagline, value proposition, and website. 

  • Positioning and messaging: A brand needs clear rational messaging which has emotional resonance with your target audience, addressing their pain points, and promoting why you’re uniquely positioned to help.

  • Visual identity: A distinct logo and brand identity gives your business a distinct look and feel and helps to alleviate mixed messaging across different touchpoints, from your website to your social channels.

  • Launch and roll-out: A brand refresh is a big deal. Make sure you communicate it effectively, both internally and externally. Build excitement and make it an event. 

Why is a brand refresh important?

A brand refresh is important to small businesses for a number of reasons. 

Primarily, it helps to revitalize your brand by updating its look and feel, without alienating existing customers. It’s still recognizably the same company, only better-looking and more modern. Even subtle changes to your logo can make a huge difference to how your brand is perceived. 

From your pitch deck to your website, a brand refresh enables you to share a clear vision with employees and customers. Over time, it’s possible that your brand identity may have become misaligned. Perhaps your social channels look like a different company to your website? A refresh can help to ensure consistent messaging and a cohesive look and feel.

With that consistency, wherever your audiences find you, it will feel like the same business. This can also strengthen your brand against competitors, and it’s a great opportunity to speak to your audience in a more engaging way.

Finally, refreshing your brand is a powerful way to spark new interest in your product or service, whether you’re pushing outside your traditional audience, or making your business more appealing to potential customers and hires. Refreshing your brand can also be the cue to kickstart your marketing efforts if sales have fallen flat. 

Examples of brand and website refreshes

Here are two examples from the KHULA Design Studio portfolio where a brand and website refresh has made a powerful difference:

With hundreds of children attending their award-winning after school program, Afternoon Adventures needed a stronger and more cohesive brand identity to match their incredible mission. At the same time, it was essential for them to have an accessible and easy-to-navigate website for parents, teachers, church members, and school leaders to learn and interact with their programs. 

As data privacy experts and long-time partners of IBM, ABMartin were looking to extend their reach to a new customer-base. With a subtle yet powerful brand refresh alongside a stronger online presence in the form of a new Webflow website, they now have a more modern look and feel to take the company forward. 

KHULA Design Studio has helped 50+ businesses transform their websites using Webflow. Learn more about what it is and why it makes a difference when you’re refreshing your website and brand by reading our guide to Webflow migration.

How do you successfully refresh a brand?

It’s all about perceptions, and understanding them. 

Once you’ve done the discovery work, and completed a brand audit, where to sit in the market becomes much clearer. Whatever your customers say you are — that’s what you are. Make sure you listen closely before making changes. That way, you can ensure you’re perfectly aligned with your audience and their needs. 

Taking a fresh look at your visual identity is critically important. Those visual signs need to communicate the right message, at the right time, to the right people. What does your logo say about you? Ideally, you want it to communicate a modern and forward-thinking organization, which knows where it’s going, what it stands for, and what it’s about. 

When your revitalized brand is ready, it’s time to hit the play button. Make sure you deliver a kick-ass campaign across your website and social channels, and wherever else your target audience hangs out, to truly announce your new look.  

Your brand is a small business’s most valuable asset. So thinking about tinkering with it can be a stressful decision. If you’re thinking about a brand refresh and need professional help and guidance, get an estimate from KHULA Design Studio.

Brand refreshes are our forte. We'd love to hear your challenges and goals to see if we're the perfect fit for your brand refresh.

Why A Brand & Website Refresh Is Good For Your Small Business

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Brand Refresh