Wealthsimple rebrands as the FinTech company sheds its startup skin

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Betakit | | Nov 4, 2015

Wealthsimple rebrandRebrands are not often the purview of small startups, left usually to larger institutions trying to shed the impression of being out of touch after generations of business. When a startup does rebrand, it’s often part of a pivot, getting away from an old idea in favour of the new one that will drive revenue and traction.

Wealthsimple, which unveiled today its rebrand with the fanfare typically reserved for new product launches, fits neither of those categories. One of Canada’s fastest growing FinTech companies, it’s also one of the youngest, taking less than a year to raise a $30 million Series A round from financial giant Power Financial Corp.

BetaKit spoke with Michael Katchen, CEO of Wealthsimple, about the company’s new brand and what it aims to accomplish.

What prompted the decision to rebrand?

We’re the largest automated investment platform in Canada, and we’re growing fast. We’re going head to head against the biggest brands in the financial industry in Canada and in the world. We think their brands are cold, they’re stale, and they don’t speak to our demographic in an authentic way. So we decided to rebuild our brand from scratch and speak to our clients: young millennial investors.

We see so many companies spending so much time focused on building the best product, and yes, you have to do all these things. But at the end of the day, if people don’t hear about you, trust your brand, or support you, you will never break out of being seen as just another startup company.

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Your new brand echoes Instagram, Airbnb. Is investing and finance a lifestyle category now?

Brand is the opportunity for companies to compete. We were inspired by the Airbnb rebrand, and how they swiped their blue bubble logo and look for a look and tone that was more human and relevant.

We wanted to remind people why they’re investing in the first place. The way people talk about robo-advisors, it gets caught up in the technology and software part of it. But most people don’t even think about that – they just want to have a better life and a bit more money to do what they want to do.

Tell us how that factors into your new landing page, with photos of kids doing cartwheels, or beach and cottage life.

We noticed that most banks don’t really have people in their photos, and even when they do, most banks use this obvious stock photography. So we decided to use real photos people we know took – our friends took – and they’re not posed. It feels fresh and relevant.

“We didn’t want to be the startup company that looks like every other tech startup out there.”

The way we view our brand is a Venn diagram of smart and simple, so by creating this brand that talks in real language, we really are trying to help our clients become smarter investors. There will be really thoughtful and smart content, and we want it to be relevant and interesting for people.

Rather than showing you the retirement calculator and the income of X, we want to talk about your goals. What do you want? Is it going on vacation? Is it buying a cottage? Because honestly, that’s my financial goal, too. I want to be able to afford a cottage one day.

I would have no reason to believe that people would trust us less with this brand – our first brand looked like a tech startup. It dials up the risk factor somewhat, because it’s colourful and uses real language. We didn’t want to be the startup company that looks like every other tech startup out there.

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So you’re basically hacking growth with this rebrand?

Assuming you have your product and team and operations right, we believe you can win on brand. Sometimes, in the startup community, we get hyper focused on paid acquisition and what channels are working. But brand is very important part of organic and paid acquisition – and every channel is amplified by brand. For startups in early stages, it was typically about finding a domain name that was available, a logo from 99designs, and a tagline you’d DIY. Now, we recognise that a brand really can be a force-multiplier.

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