Inside Koto’s snappy rebrand for Bolt, using negative space and illustrations full of energy

The one-click checkout platform is switching up its previous wordmark and blue palette to stand out from e-commerce competitors going into 2023.

23 January 2023


Following projects from Ecosia and The Washington Post at the tail end of last year, Koto’s latest client is Bolt, a checkout technology platform. Like most New Year New Me overhauls, the studio says the aim was to reach towards something more modern and fresh – more specifically, aiming to stand apart from the e-commerce crowd.

Koto also designs the brand around the concept of Bolt’s “shockingly simple” way of shopping, states the press release. This original lightning bolt symbol nodding to this idea is still present, though Koto has unified the logo and wordmark, hiding the bolt with a use of negative space in the wordmark. It also crops up across wider typographic moments, like in slanted currency signs, exclamation points and even in illustrated icons, like credit card symbols. Snappy motion design suggests the speed Bolt wants to be known for, while Koto also swaps Bolt’s previously more financial services-focused friendly blue for “Lightning Yellow”.

“In our industry, there’s never been more competition, but there’s also never been more sameness,” writes Bolt CEO Maju Kuruvilla. “While we’ll always have a soft spot in our hearts for the shades of blue that got us here – and kept us in good company with others in e-commerce – we also know we’re a bit different than we were when that design debuted.”


Koto: Bolt (Copyright © Koto / Bolt, 2023)

Despite the focus on simplicity and convenience in the Bolt rebrand, Koto makes room for some interestingly expressive moments. For example, this includes character-based illustrations – featuring shopping carts and the e-commerce experience through products – which play with proportions and dynamic line work.

Finally, Koto introduces a further face of the brand for supporting applications. When the brand stands on its own, it will appear in the yellow shade, but it can also flex to become “an ingredient brand to merchants”, appearing in a more muted “Bolt Black” shade. Maju continues: “The new design underlines one of our key features at Bolt: our products can be flexibly applied across a spectrum of use cases.”

GalleryKoto: Bolt (Copyright © Koto / Bolt, 2023)

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Koto: Bolt (Copyright © Koto / Bolt, 2023)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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