A Wise Move — What A Good Rebrand Looks Like

Khula Design Studio
6 min readMar 20, 2023

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

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 They’re very aware of an outdated international banking system, which makes exchanging money more costly and time-consuming than it needs to be.‍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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Originally posted on www.khula.studio

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Khula Design Studio

Khula helps small businesses transform their brand image & create experiences that delight & inspire. | www.khula.studio