Justified Studio’s identity for FIDO embraces its cultural context and necessary accessibility
Aiming to provide financial freedom and empowerment to millions across the African continent, FIDO introduces the everyday benefits and opportunities of modern banking in a region where, for many, economic access is simply unavailable or out of reach. Offering everything a contemporary bank should – from savings pots and business growth plans to capital investment and budgeting – FIDO’s data-driven offering marks a ‘new money culture’ in Africa and, therefore, required a vibrant identity to mirror its potential cultural impact.
Turning to London-based strategy, design and technology agency Justified Studio, the international collaboration has achieved as much and more, resulting in a punchy, engaging visual language that does aesthetic justice to FIDO’s social influence, led by the ecstatic interplay of colour. “Inspired by the vibrancy of Ankara Wax Prints,” Designer Charley Ray tells us, “we used a colourful palette to capture the energy and personality that FIDO embodies as a brand,” reflecting West African culture whilst creating a veritable playground of hues to be applied across type, illustration and, notably, iconography. “Historically, stickers have been an effective means of democratically spreading a message to a wide audience,” Ray contextualises, discussing the brand’s prominent and playful use of icons. “Given FIDO’s mission to create accessible financial services for the unbanked,” she continues, “we wanted to use graphic stickers to spread this mission in an engaging way,” including stickers specific to FIDO’s market culture, such as cowries; the former currency of Ghana and other African countries.
FIDO’s dedication to play and personality is exemplified through Justified’s typographic choices, opting for Marguerite Grotesk from Amsterdam-based type designer Charlotte Rohde as the hero typeface. “We loved the characterful quirks of letters such as the ‘R,’” Ray notes, “which bring a unique point of difference from other sans serifs and adds character to the typography,” whilst likewise offering a sturdy, workhorse sans serif in the process – a duality of rationality and charm that expands across the identity as a whole. “For more practical applications,” she explains, “we switch to CoType’s Aeonik family as it retains a similar geometric style while prioritising function,” a necessity across the brand’s expectant accessibility.
“A thorough understanding of different use cases and their needs is crucial,” Ray details, considering the identity’s need to flex between pragmatic economic services and bold, social advertisement. “This includes moments where we can really dial up and champion the brand character,” she notes, “as well as moments where we know to dial down and prioritise functionality,” resulting in FIDO’s distinctive, malleable brand system. “A flexible design system is essential,” she suggests, “including a range of typeface weights, colour palettes and a graphic sticker language,” adept at adapting across the brand’s different outputs. “We underpin all of this with our strategic thread,” Ray concludes, “that runs throughout the FIDO world.”