01 May Case Study: Menai Financial Group
This past quarter we worked with New York-based Menai Financial Group to develop and launch its brand including strategy, brand voice, logo, visual identity and website. Here is a brief look into our process for one of our favorite projects of 2021.
Referred by our friends at Vision Hill Advisors, Menai met with us to discuss a collaboration. From our first meeting, we immediately understood how impactful and visionary this company would be.
Menai had a vision of building the bank of the future. Through developing the fundamental components of markets and investments infrastructure in the digital finance space, Menai hopes to unlock the full potential of digital assets as an asset class.
The pedigree of the Menai team, led by former Morgan Stanley Co-President Zoe Cruz, is of the highest caliber. While their experience and expertise were above many competitors, we discovered the real differentiator is in the brand’s desire to wield bitcoin and blockchain technology to create a lasting, positive impact on the world, namely in the areas of financial inclusion.
The Menai Bridge (left) was the primary inspiration for the eventual mark (right). Photo by Rhys Morgan Jones, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Through a comprehensive understanding of Menai’s business objectives, competitive landscape, and salient distinguishing features, we developed a story inspired by the brand’s namesake — a 19th century bridge in Wales that is one of the world’s first important suspension bridges and a feat of innovation and engineering. We saw this as a reflection of Menai’s interests and goals: to connect worlds through cutting-edge technology. These ‘worlds’ are three-fold: 1) traditional and digital finance, 2) regions across the globe, 3) financial inclusivity and accessibility.
The brand personality that emerged combined the courage, excellence and determination of The Hero with the sophistication and commanding power of The Ruler. A leader who can responsibly employ this nascent technology to bring structure and order to the digital asset space, and positively change the world in legacy ways.
The Menai guidelines we eventually developed include pages from the initial Brand Strategy Brief including Brand Purpose, Brand Personality Archetypes, and Brand Promise.
With a strategy in place, we aimed to develop a logo and visual identity that could signal these attributes and exude an authority steeped in expertise and excellence at every level.
Process sketches and word mapping. Some of the above ideas would end up in the concepts below.
We ended up presenting four distinct identity concepts complete with logo, basic variants, color, typography, and assets for each, showcasing a different side of the Menai story.
Concept 1 was inspired by currency design and official stamp marks.
Concept 2 (the chosen concept) was inspired by graphs and gradation as a symbol of progress.
Concept 3 utilized a more luxury, high end look and feel.
Concept 4 took inspiration from the various sections of the Menai Bridge.
The concept that was chosen (Concept 2) looked primarily towards the imagery of finance and trading tools — graphs and charts composed of geometric shapes and lines, as well as the idea of growth and forward-moving progress. This led to a visual language based on lines of increasing/decreasing stroke widths, and a logo that abstractly and rigorously displays the original Menai bridge. The result is sleek, authoritative, and highly distinct evoking a digital sensibility in its sharp, geometric forms, and bold progress through the gradation of lines.
This gradating line-based concept extended to signature graphic assets, as well as graphs and charts to accentuate its versatility of expression and movement. The entire identity has a very cohesive, yet layered look and feel that is unmistakably modern.
For verbal identity, it was important to have a unique brand voice that matched the personality and values we established in the strategy. This meant just the right amount of expert knowledge, eloquence, and statement-making confidence integrated into key messaging and copy.
The website, as simple as it appears, is the result of numerous iterations, collaborations, and discussions between our team and Menai. The objective was to tell Menai’s story as succinctly and as concise a manner as possible. For the site, we also produced a curated selection of vivid imagery, as well as a host of icons to represent each brand pillar, and a library of Menai “hedcuts” for the leadership team.
Menai’s branding and website had to be one of most rewarding projects of all time, and given the number of stakeholders and the sheer breadth of vision and pedigree, we are delighted and very proud of the end results. We are excited for Menai’s future impact as a unifying leader in both traditional and digital finance, and as a facilitator of financial participation for the unbanked and underbanked.
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