Koto gives second-hand marketplace Shpock a joyful brand refresh

The London-based studio has created a comprehensive new identity that is all shimmers and sparkles.

9 September 2020


Koto has created an entirely refreshed visual identity and brand tone of voice for Shpock, the mobile-first online marketplace for private buying and selling of items in your local area.

Owned by a Norwegian media company, the app (originally named for a portmanteau of “shop” and “in your pocket”) has been downloaded more than 50 million times across Europe and the UK. Koto's rebrand, however, is all about establishing Shpock’s evolution from a local classifieds board to a nationwide marketplace and setting it up for future success in a highly competitive online retail sector.

As Arthur Foliard, design director of Koto, explains, the old branding left a gap between customers and the brand’s outward-facing tone and messaging. “We realised that there’s a disconnect between how users feel and how the brand looks,” he tells It’s Nice That. “When we interviewed buyers and sellers from the community, there was lots of enthusiasm towards second-hand products and Shpock as a platform. But the visual and verbal brands didn’t reflect that.” The pivot was cemented in a new brand tagline – “The Joy of Selling” – and this then guided the rest of the refresh.

One of the highlights of the project is a new bespoke typeface, based on a pre-used typeface, which the team at Koto created alongside Colophon. Shpock-Mabry is purposefully designed “to express joy through glyphs that represent a smile,” says Arthur. “We worked closely with Colophon to make it as unique and distinctive as possible, while also making sure it was functional – with good legibility at all sizes, formats and languages.


The old Shpock logo


Koto and Colophon: Shpock-Mabry

Also applying an all-new colour palette made up mostly of gradients, Arthur describes this approach as a “simple but effective way to express the positive feelings associated with Shpock, such as joy, optimism and positiveness”.

The identity also leans heavily on the use of one key brand asset – a sparkle, or “Shparkle”, as the team at Koto calls it, a visual manifestation of joy that adds light-hearted moments to communications and messaging. “It’s an element that our client absolutely loved,” says Arthur. “They turned it into a Slack emoji within minutes (literally).” This reflects one of the brand’s core pieces of messaging: “Shiny stuff for them. Shiny money for you.”

This feature is often combined with vibrant portraits of real buyers and sellers to express the brand idea simply and hero the great community. These are then paired with cut-out images of the bought and sold objects, creating a compelling composition that is, according to Koto, “both functional (the item) and emotional (the person)”.

All of this visual work is wrapped around that central idea of “The Joy of Selling”, which was the result of Koto’s work on tone of voice. “It was all about spreading that second-hand optimism through casual and friendly messaging, while making sure everything was simple and clear,” says Arthur. “From our choice of typography, to the colour palette, through motion work, it gave us a strong structure to reflect all the joy people felt from buying/selling as well as reflecting the youthful and carefree spirit they had as a team.”

GalleryKoto Studio: Shpock rebrand (Copyright © Koto Studio, 2020)

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Koto Studio: Shpock rebrand (Copyright © Koto Studio, 2020)

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About the Author

Matt Alagiah

Matt joined It’s Nice That as editor in October 2018 and became editor-in-chief in September 2020. He was previously executive editor at Monocle magazine. Drop him a line with ideas and suggestions, or simply to say hello.


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