From stale to stand out
How to create a brand voice that speaks volumes.
A billboard which reads "Max ease, min fees"

We believe in a different way of doing things. A better way. A fairer way. We’ve always stood up for our customers. And back when we started, that made us stand out. But over time other people cottoned on. And so we all started looking and sounding the same.

Trustworthy blue colour palette?


Suite of charming, cartoon people illustrations?


Clear yet common voice?

You bet. Yes.

We found ourselves in a sea of sameness. Stuck aboard a boat called bland. But we’re not the same. We think and act differently. And that’s why a big part of our rebrand is about standing out once again. About remembering and celebrating the things that make us different. And about setting us up for where we’re going — everywhere.

Someone holding a phone in their hand which shows the Wise login screen.
A woman holding a Wise branded tote bag by her side.

To do this, we’ve pumped up the visual volume with our vibrant new colour palette, bold and distinct illustrations, and a custom font inspired by languages around the world.

But how do you create a tone of voice that not only stands up to this visual direction, but amplifies it? One that pitch-matches our signature Bright Green, and goes toe to toe with tapestries? And how do you document it in a way that’s both delightful and helpful?

Challenge accepted.

A collage of assets from the new brand.

Talk the talk

We kicked things off by reviewing example executions of the refreshed brand by our creative partner Ragged Edge. Honing in on the copy, we talked through what made the voice different from how we currently speak, and how we might describe those differences.

This early discussion and debate was one of the most important parts of the whole process. Arguably the most important. It helped us sound out ideas, flesh out the nuances and points of difference of our voice, and build a sense of how Wise should sound to our customers. Talking through all the aspects of our voice helped us to hear it in our heads before we even put pen to paper. Or fingers to Figma (let’s be real).

My advice? Don’t rush to define your voice. Talk about it, hear it, feel it. Chances are, you’ve already got some visual direction to draw on. So use that to kickstart discussions around your voice’s personality if you get stuck (more on that later). And if it starts to feel a bit uncomfortable and challenging, you’re probably onto something good. It’s your job to work through the mess, so people only hear magic.

Text which reads 'Whoa' with a confetti illustration over the top.

Show don't tell

Once we’d debated the details and sweated the small stuff, we started to document our voice and develop the tone of voice guidelines. The result? A pile of dong.

Yep, our first attempt totally missed the mark. Why? Because we played it too safe. Our new brand is bold, energetic, and full of life. And in our attempt to create a useful guide, our new tone of voice felt the opposite — meek, bland and distinctly un-Wise.

The thing is, you can include all the helpful examples and top tips you like. But if a tone of voice guide is to be truly useful, it needs to be something people want to read. And crucially, it needs to be written in the voice itself. And therein lies a lesson — the best way to explain your voice, is by using your voice.

For round two, we reflected once more on the core elements of the rebrand. And we used them as inspiration for how we might define and describe our voice. 

For example, we knew a major part of the rebrand was all about doing less with more. Simpler icons. Cleaner interfaces. Bolder colours. If these things were personality traits, how would they come across in the way we speak?

It’s your job to work through the mess, so people only hear magic.

Two people sat at a laptop, smiling and laughing.

We worked through each aspect of the rebrand this way to help us define the 5 rules of how to speak Wise:

  • Celebrate the mission — because we’re distinct and unmistakably Wise.
  • Be concise — because we’re simple, bold, and punchy.
  • Make it modern — because we’re accessible, open, and inclusive.
  • Give it energy — because we’re going places, just like our customers.
  • Add colour — because we’re not like a boring bank.

Going here, there, and everywhere

We have a lot to say, and our words end up in lots of places. We knew our voice needed to work in all of them. Whether people are sending money globally, or spending locally.

Because having a bold and playful voice is all well and good for billboards and bus stops, but how does that translate to error messages? We spent a lot of time talking through these different scenarios, and how our voice should flex.

We then chose the most common scenarios for our guide, and gave examples of how our voice would work across them. This took a lot of time to get right. But now our guidance makes it clear how to add energy and colour to get people to join us, and how to be clear and concise to stop them leaving.

A Wise card in a dish with a restaurant bill.

We also developed 3 principles to root the voice in our mission at all times.

For us, these are:

  • Intrepid — forging our own path and going where others won’t.
  • Universally authentic — showing up as ourselves to everyone, everywhere.
  • Delightfully simple — putting the power, pounds, and pesos back into people's hands.

Often the best way to explain your voice, is by using your voice.

Quids in

Finding your voice

Developing a new voice doesn’t come without challenges. But from challenges, come learnings. My pearls of wisdom for anyone hoping to do the same?

  • Share often and take people with you — tough feedback is easier to digest on draft 3 vs 33.
  • Don’t run before you can walk talk — spend more time talking and less time writing.
  • Trust the process and check your ego — you’ve got to work through the garbage to find the gold.
  • Sweat the small stuff — if you want people hanging on every word, you’ve got to make sure they’re the right ones.
  • Think about what sets you apart — your voice needs to work for lots of people, in lots of places, but it still needs to represent you.