London-based Studio Output has created a new identity for Monzo Business, a new SME-focused account created by start-up bank Monzo. Just as the bank won fans with customers for its app-based approach to personal banking, the new offer includes nifty features like automatically shifting tax into a separate ‘pot’, integrated accounting and in-app invoicing.
The brief to Studio Output was to come up with a look and feel that would have the “simplicity and magic people love about Monzo, and the trust and reassurance businesses need from a bank”, says a statement from the studio. It was also important that the identity would appeal to an audience that might not already know the bank, but were looking for a different approach to business finances.
Monzo developed the original brand in-house and had already created some of the core elements of the Monzo Business identity, like the logo and debit cards. “Beyond that, Monzo gave us a fairly loose leash around what was up for grabs, but early exploration with different typefaces just didn’t feel like Monzo,” Studio Output creative director Johanna Drewe tells It’s Nice That. “It was about developing a product identity within Monzo rather than a new brand, so we quickly settled on keeping those core brand components and built on other areas instead. In this way we could start to push colour, illustration and imagery alongside the user interface and its components.”
The ideas underpinning the identity were formed over a number of design sprints between the design studio and Monzo’s in-house team. The first step was to evaluate the existing Monzo brand to see what elements to carry through into the new business offering. For example, Monzo’s trademark coral pink, which makes its bank cards instantly recognisable, has been brought into the Monzo Business identity in the form of illustrated outlines that frame photography and introduce a playfulness to the brand.
“The business debit card retains a coral edge and this provided a great starting point – a constant and adaptive thread to weave through imagery and UI,” explains Studio Output creative director Johanna Drewe. “It frames photography, illustrates the wider story of each business and connects different components or stories together, while subtly reminding you this is a proper account with a debit card.” Studio Output also introduced a brighter colour palette derived from the Monzo ‘m’ icon. “These are used in image backgrounds to introduce a subtle nod to the brand as you scroll down a page,” Drewe tells us.
In terms of imagery, the concept was to link customer stories to Monzo features in a way that felt human and authentic. To do this Studio Output enlisted photographer Hermione Hodgson and filmmakers ManyMakers to create stills and testimonial videos of small business owners that felt natural. “We wanted the photography to showcase rich stories about Monzo Business customers, making them ambassadors who reveal how smart tools and features have helped them,” says Drewe. “Monzo’s audience research showed that lots of people don’t believe testimonials, so it was important for them to be real customers with real businesses, to make them relatable.”
Studio Output: Monzo Business idenity