Project: Revitalize and Implement a Global Brand Rollout
Working with Landor, the company that invented branding, I helped Visa develop branding and identity guidelines and an implementation tool for their new identity as well as a fresh look for their upcoming Olympics sponsorship.
In its 30th year, Visa's look had become dated and no longer reflected all the services they offer beyond credit cards. Landor's data-driven Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) tool provided excellent data about the brand equity and showed that the brand had declined slightly in three of the four brand indicators—Differentiation, Relevance, and Knowledge—and an increase in Esteem. This showed the brand was being perceived more as a luxury product and less approachable by the average person.
We elected to maintain the current blue and gold brand colors (Visa, founded in California, chose those to represent the state's blue skies and golden hills) and focus on clarifying their existing brand promise of providing leadership through straightforward, easy to use products and services. In addition, we needed to provide a tool which:
- Provides clear and immediate answers to brand identity questions
- Gives secure access to brand artwork and templates
- Provides extensive brand standards and Look, Tone and Feel guidelines to relevant internal and external stakeholders, including Member Banks, Merchants, Worldwide Partners and internal audiences
- Enables the consistent and accurate expression of the Visa brand through up-to-date guidelines
Our main focus was the concept of "Ubiquity." Like oxygen, Visa's brand, products, and services should be perceived as being everywhere and a necessity for life's experiences. “Simple, powerful, and indispensable.”
In keeping with their roots, we kept and refined the colors inspired by the "blue skies and golden hills" of California in the mark, but removed elements that were card-specific to reflect and improve versatility in cobranding products and services. That reduced the amount of gold and sense of exclusivity, but meant there was no symbol in the logo and it lead to design explorations using the serif on the letter "V". The shape of the "wing" gave a more uplifting and accessible feel, yet keeping it gold maintained a small element of exclusivity in contrast with the blue wordmark. The wings could be as a flexible design element to highlight and bring focus to a message or convey an aspirational, upward movement. We also reduced the wordmark oblique angle and adjusted kerning to increase legibility.
Through our initial discovery research, we discovered their tagline "It's everywhere you want to be." wasn't distinct enough to be memorable. We wanted to give the feel of your Visa card unlocking life experiences you wouldn't otherwise discover and came up with a more succinct line that captures this idea: "Life takes Visa."
We conducted focus groups and test interviews for the new look and made some refinements to improve Visa sub-branding co-branding lockups to make a clear distinction between the marks. Once satisfied and validated, we moved on to developing a content management system (CMS) for the identity guidelines and asset distribution. Since I'd already built a similar project for Citi, I had a template to start from, including basic interaction flows and a data model.
The new brand was extended to the look of the CMS and we not only created guidelines for usage in print, digital, mobile, and environmental, we created simple walkthroughs to guide Visa brand stewards and partners on the correct assets to used based on a series of criteria determined by answering a few simple questions. This helped ensure the right brand expression was being used for the right venue.
Visa, a longtime sponsor of the Olympics, leveraged the launch of their new brand at the summer Olympics by releasing over a billion cards to members and millions of institutions. We developed an online portal where their affiliates could log in and access the new brand guidelines, new digital assets, and rules for usage. This made it easy for them to control usage and implementation of the brand, track rollout progress, and ensure consistency worldwide.
Users were greatly inspired by the new look and feel and raved about the Brand Central tool, which enabled them to more efficiently deliver brand resource.
- Provided a more consistent, recognizable, and modern brand
- Reduced requests for brand assets by empowering and inspiring brand stewards all over the world
- Increased post-Olympics BAV scores up 4%
- Created one of the most distinct and recognizable brands at the Olympics
- Local executions of the Visa brand became consistent, recognizable, valuable, and effective
The Visa brand is recognizable worldwide and regional and Visa Worldwide Services stakeholders increasingly recognize the importance of their own role as brand stewards and evangelists.