ekko branding features in Design Week

ODA chan­nels good vibes for eco-bank brand Ekko

The psy­che­del­ic” visu­al iden­ti­ty for the envi­ron­men­tal­ly focused bank­ing sys­tem resists the min­i­mal­ist brand­ing of start-up banks.

Our Design Agency (ODA) has cre­at­ed the brand­ing for Ekko, a new bank­ing app and card which match­es trans­ac­tions with envi­ron­men­tal deeds such as plant­i­ng trees.

As well as nam­ing Ekko, Lon­don-based ODA has designed the visu­al iden­ti­ty for the app, deb­it card and social media presence.

Ekko launch­es in part­ner­ship with Mas­ter­card and ties into research from the bank which shows that two in five Brits view reduc­ing their car­bon foot­print as more of a pri­or­i­ty now than before the pandemic.

For every five trans­ac­tions that a cus­tomer makes, Ekko will pay for one plas­tic bot­tle to be col­lect­ed before it enters the ocean. For every 50, it will pay for a tree to be plant­ed. Cus­tomers can track their envi­ron­men­tal impact in the Ekko app.

Inspired by the but­ter­fly effect

When it came to nam­ing the brand, the stu­dio want­ed some­thing that would high­light the envi­ron­men­tal aspect and pos­i­tive impact, accord­ing to ODA cre­ative direc­tor Grant Willis.

The idea for Ekko came from a dis­cus­sion around the but­ter­fly effect, he explains. You’re going to buy a cof­fee in Cam­den, and you’re going to plant a tree in Colom­bia,” Willis says. The impact you’re hav­ing is echo­ing out from the moment you tap that card.”

The changed spelling has a ring of eco’ and pro­vides more visu­al oppor­tu­ni­ties, accord­ing to the design­er. Ecco’ was already in use by oth­er companies.

The word­mark uses sym­me­try to high­light this echo­ing out effect”, Willis says. While the two k’s are reflect­ed, even the e almost fin­ish­es out like an o”, he adds. Every­thing looks per­fect­ly sym­met­ri­cal and echoes out from the middle.”

While the type­face Pop­pins is used for the brand’s copy, an adapt­ed ver­sion has been designed for the wordmark.

Resist­ing a min­i­mal­ist look and feel”

The bank tar­gets an old­er audi­ence than gen­er­a­tion Z and mil­len­ni­als, accord­ing to Willis. The start-up banks for this younger sec­tor such as Mon­zo and Star­ling have a min­i­mal­ist look and feel”, he says, and the stu­dio want­ed to do the oppo­site of that for Ekko. All these neo-banks have seri­ous mut­ed colours, but we want­ed to be big, bright and upbeat.”

Willis likens cur­rent eco-mind­ed shop­pers to a mod­ern day hip­py”. The design team start­ed to look into the lan­guage and visu­als of this era, like psy­che­del­ic posters that felt real­ly pos­i­tive and sent good vibes”, he adds.

That design ref­er­ence is only some­thing some­one in their 40s would under­stand,” he says, which was help­ful for engag­ing the old­er demographic.

Although ODA has used stylings from these era, the mud­dy colours” have been updat­ed for a mod­ern audi­ence and dig­i­tal appli­ca­tions, Willis says. The shades have names like Pos­i­tive Pink and Opti­mistic Orange for the right vibe”, the design­er adds.

Design­ing the deb­it card

The deb­it card was a cru­cial way for the bank to be noticed fast”, Willis says, though ODA want­ed to avoid design­ing a card with the brand’s logo. Accord­ing to the design­er, the Ekko team want­ed a card that would prompt con­ver­sa­tions when cus­tomers took it out.

The orig­i­nal on-card state­ment was going to read This is not a bank card, this is pos­i­tive change’, Willis says. This was changed to the short­er line: Good vibes’. Every time you’re tap­ping, you’re send­ing good vibes across the world,” he says.

The tone of voice is root­ed in cool and hip” lan­guage from the 60s and 70s, adds Willis. These include phras­es like Right on’ and Dig it?’. These have been used light­ly so that it doesn’t appear too cheesy or tacky”, he adds.

The stu­dio has also designed a set of icons which include a Clean the Sea’ lock-up with a whale’s tail. These were also inspired by the 60s and 70s too but the team was care­ful not to sim­ply con­vey a pas­tiche of that world”, adds Willis.

Check out the full arti­cle here

23 April, 2021 | Hen­ry Wong