Discover how we built a brand for disruptive digital banking start-up, Alpian.
We were tasked by Swiss Private Bank, Reyl, to name, brand and position a groundbreaking all-digital start-up they were backing. The key would be to do so in a way that allowed a completely disruptive company to be accepted - and ultimately, licenced - by the famously conservative Swiss Private Banking Authority, FINMA.
“The brand is absolutely a perfect reflection of what we are trying to achieve with Alpian. It is pretty rare that design aesthetics meet the standards I set, but this brand does. Simple, clean, elegant, and meaningful. I want to thank you again for bringing this to us.”
To be the first wholly digital Swiss Private Bank was a key component of the business from the moment it was first conceived. Before it even had a name, this positioned Alpian as a massive changemaker in an industry that has prided itself on being largely unchanged for centuries. The branding needed to reassure both the Swiss banking authorities and potential customers that a digital Swiss Private Bank could offer all the benefits of a traditional one - security, expertise, outstanding service - whilst delivering the convenience and connectivity of a state-of-the-art digital interface.
Our brand process is designed to identify and deliver the key elements of a brand in just four weeks. So it was the ideal framework for Alpian, who were working to a presentation deadline set by FINMA. Bringing the iCrossing team and client stakeholders together, the highly collaborative nature of our brand process proved the perfect way to build out all the elements of a truly premium and innovative brand well before FINMA’s deadline and Alpian’s first confident step towards gaining full Swiss Private Bank status.
The core team travelled to Geneva where we ran an intensive one day workshop. During this session with all the major client stakeholders, we explored their aspirations and inspirations at a brand level, the values that would shape and guide their business and the behaviours they wanted to put in place to have a disruptive but positive impact on their chosen sector. Taking all these considerations into account we also did some initial naming and visual identity exploration.
During this session we explored a range of names and positioning statements. Of the four options presented, stakeholders picked ‘Alpian’ for its clear link to the Swiss Alps – which overlook Geneva – the solidity those mountains represent, and how they can and have been used as a clear navigational point. They also like the classical, almost Latin, construct, which blended the traditional into something totally new, mirroring the digital bank's intentions.
Having established the name and the reasoning behind it, this session focused largely on Alpian's logo and brandmark. Of nine options presented, the final logo was built using a font sourced from a Swiss foundry – again reinforcing the brand’s Swiss provenance, even at the most subtle levels. We combined the typestyle with another unmistakably Swiss element – the ‘+’ – which can be seen to represent the Swiss flag, the brand’s aim to use wealth for good, and as a symbol of positivity and growth.
With the name and logo in place, we used this session to refine the written and spoken elements of the brand, focusing on a tone of voice that fit the visual style and delivered the brand values with reassuring confidence and clarity. Brand values were also established at this point, and expressed using the refined tone of voice.
In this final session, we presented and got client approval on the full Alpian Brand Guidelines. This was a culmination and distillation of all the collaborative efforts between client and agency in the previous sessions, and a comprehensive and actionable guide to how the brand looks, acts, speaks and appears both on and offline.
On a trajectory of growth, Alpian has secured FINMA status, been noted as a start-up to watch in 2021, and secured Series B funding.
In 2020, Alpian's FINMA application to operate as a FinTech was successful and they subsequently undertook a €11.5M Series A funding round
Alpian have been listed as one of 10 'Swiss Start-ups to Watch in 2021'
In April 2021 Alpian announced it had secured $18M of Series B funding to launch the bank in the Swiss market
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