Moniker shrugs off meme aesthetics of crypto with Coinbase rebrand

Emphasising motion design, the studio makes a constantly-moving identity to mirror the always-open doors of crypto.

25 March 2022

Depending on who you are, crypto can be associated with a lot of things. But it’s the link to memes, finance bros, and intimidating tech that San Francisco-based design studio Moniker is bucking in its new rebrand for cryptocurrency platform Coinbase. With visuals that stand apart from the “almost undesigned / meme aesthetic” of the crypto world, the identity instead merges engaging motion design with a clear, uncomplicated approach to “ease people into crypto”, explains Moniker founder Brent Couchman.

While the design for Coinbase is approachable, that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting – and a bit flashy. For motion design, and within the wider graphic layout system, Moniker has captured the feeling of constant but intentional movement. “Unlike traditional financial markets which have opening and closing trading hours, the cryptoeconomy is always open,” explains Brent, latching onto this idea in the way the brand moves. “In product, the motion is subtle and intentionally used to convey crucial information clearly, in marketing, the motion flexes to become more engaging and enticing.”

For another key area of the work, Brent says: “This was probably the widest logo exploration we’ve ever done, hundreds of different concepts and iterations.” Looking at circles, coins, globes, and abstractions of transactions, the end result was actually founded in a “super simple” evolution of the existing app icon. The logo sits somewhere closely between a C and a circle; its simplicity speaking to Coinbase’s position as “the easiest place to access the cryptoeconomy”.

An interesting inspiration for the identity lay in wayfinding systems, which mirrors where Coinbase sits in the market as a path leading users from traditional finance to the cryptoeconomy. The idea of transit signage systems fed into the rebrand, as did the idea of helping people navigate where they want to go with immediate and quick results. “Not something too abstract that could potentially get in the way for users who were new to the space,” adds Brent.

The existing Coinbase blue was brightened in the refresh to add more energy, alongside a range of other colours to provide flexibility. For type, the studio decided it would need something custom and landed on Coinbase Sans: a family of 36 styles (Optical versions, Display, Text, Micro and Mono), over 29,000 glyphs, and supporting over 200 Latin languages.

Brent concludes: “Our approach was to make it as simple and clear as possible. Crypto can be intimidating for many people and we knew being straightforward and familiar was the way to build trust and ease people into the crypto world... To reach a wider audience, not just the typical crypto crowd, [Coinbase] needed a visual identity that built recognition for the brand but also allowed for a really wide range of expression to speak to new users."

GalleryMoniker: Coinbase rebrand (Copyright © Coinbase, 2022)

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Moniker: Coinbase rebrand (Copyright © Coinbase, 2022)

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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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