Why is it green?

Derek Boateng
Oct 11, 2018 · 4 min read

That’s the most common question I’ve been asked at TransferWise. Seriously and jokingly.

Like many other financial companies, we use blue as a core brand colour, since it’s traditionally associated with trust and calm. Blue is probably the colour our customers most associate us with. So you might think we’d make our card blue, too.

The problem is, blue cards are also used by PayPal, Barclays, Halifax, Chase, Citibank, Amex…the list goes on.

Blue as far as the eye can see

We were founded to help people avoid unfair bank fees when they send money abroad, and we’ve put in so much time and effort separating ourselves from the old world of finance. Why should our first physical product fall into the same old tropes? TransferWise doesn’t behave like a bank. Doesn’t sound like a bank. Why would our debit card look like it’s from a bank?

We needed something more daring and bold,– a visual representation that we are different.

Marketing principle that is often credited to midcentury designer Raymond Loewy.

Still, it wasn’t an easy sell internally. There were a lot of strong opinions, and there was a lot of strong debate. Many mood boards and mockups. We even created a few real life blue debit cards to make sure we weren’t making a huge mistake. But they just didn’t feel like something we would do. They felt stale. Our card had to be different, noteworthy, and inspiring.

A very small sample of design experiments.

If not blue, then what?

For the first time, we were about to be present in customers purses, wallets and pockets.

How could we bring our mission to life for them, through our card?

The card design had to do several things:
- Be useful and convenient for our customers
- Keep the TransferWise brand in the forefront of their minds
- Be distinct (in and out of the world of finance)
- Get people talking. (Who talks about a debit card in everyday life?)
- Reflect our brand personality
- Remind customers we’re here to help

Ultimately, we were inspired by the green send money buttons peppered throughout our product. Green symbolises positivity and renewal, and a new way to do things.

We worked with our card manufacturer for many months, and produced many iterations of the card. After numerous failed attempts, we arrived at the luminous, energetic, neon green you see on our card.

We added our “Hello World” strap-line to the card as a reminder that it will help you lead a freer, more open life. Bye bye banks, hello world.

Why is it a weird shape?

Over 2 million people in the UK live with sight loss — that’s around 1 in 30. Many of these people don’t readily know which way to hold their bank card. It might seem a small inconvenience, but these kinds of issues can really add up in someone’s day-to-day life..

This is where the ‘blind notch’ — the tiny cut out on the right hand side of our card — comes in. (Most UK card manufacturers offer it; you just need to ask.). We decided to add the notch to all our cards because we strive to make our customers’ lives easier however we can. It truly is the little things.

The TransferWise experience

We strive to build a delightful, inclusive brand. A brand which reveals itself with every interaction a customer has with TransferWise. The colour and shape of the card are just two parts of the experience. There are plenty of other places to leave a positive impression on people.

Customers have even noticed how we add a little bit of TransferWise magic to something as dull as the inside of an envelope. Another opportunity where we can sweat the details and add delight.

When our customers experience these charming interactions again and again, recognition builds. This leads to greater awareness, which builds trust. Hopefully these positive experiences inspire our customers to become advocates for the brand.

Proud beta customers

There were lot of decisions and work that went into creating our first ever physical product. There is also a lot of pressure and expectation. But we believe our card and product reflects the TransferWise DNA.

We’re lucky to work in a place where our decisions are trusted and supported. Of course, design is never done and we are constantly iterating on all parts of the experience.

Join us on our journey

If TransferWise sounds like the place for you, we’re currently hiring for a number roles in the design team. Check out our openings.

TransferWise Design

In the TransferWise design team, it’s our job to understand…

Derek Boateng

Written by

Lead brand designer at TransferWise. http://t.co/WuxvB7UfEH

TransferWise Design

In the TransferWise design team, it’s our job to understand people, ask the right questions, and make abstract ideas tangible. We care for the details, and we keep humans at the centre of our work. We make global money simple and human for people without borders.

Derek Boateng

Written by

Lead brand designer at TransferWise. http://t.co/WuxvB7UfEH

TransferWise Design

In the TransferWise design team, it’s our job to understand people, ask the right questions, and make abstract ideas tangible. We care for the details, and we keep humans at the centre of our work. We make global money simple and human for people without borders.

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