For those unfamiliar, Coinbase is one of the most popular cryptocurrency platforms today. Its latest rebrand designed by San Francisco based- agency Moniker sees a custom font, titled Coinbase Sans, inspired by “forgotten blue collar” 20th century typefaces.
The rebrand’s goal was for Coinbase to reach a wider audience outside the “crypto crowd”. Initiated due to the brand experiencing massive growth, Coinbase felt as if while it was becoming arguably the most trusted and easiest-to-use platform for the crypto economy, its former identity didn’t match that position.
For this reason, Coinbase briefed Moniker to create a new visual identity that would balance “the excitement and energy of this new financial world” while communicating trust and security. The goal was to communicate to new potential users.
Cleverly and appropriately, the new aesthetic succeeds in being as simple and clear as possible to encourage users who might have previously felt intimidated by the world of crypto. That simplicity also meant that Moniker’s designs could be bold and stand out against crypto brands that leaned into a more “undesigned” or meme-like aesthetic, as Couchman puts it.
Moniker’s Creative Director has spoken out about the challenges faced in the rebranding process. “One of the biggest challenges was finding the right balance between a trusted financial institution and this new world of crypto. You want it to be accessible and trusted, but you don’t want to come off as stodgy and boring. The audience was really broad, they’re aiming for anyone and everyone to be able to participate in the crypto economy, so again it as important that the identity not alienate.”
In order to arrive at the final design, Moniker went through hundreds of different concepts and iterations in the exploration stage. At this point, the team was looking to try to uncover what made sense for the brand and didn’t feel like a huge departure (specifically in terms of the app icon) but also felt like a meaningful and intentional change.
The idea of wayfinding and transit signage systems sat as the inspiration, since the team’s early conversations had unearthed the idea of Coinbase being a ‘bridge’ between traditional finance and the crypto economy. Another key concept behind the new identity was the idea that crypto is no longer a futuristic entity, but something tangible and real that can be used right now.
The new icon is instantly recognisable as a ‘C’ and a coin, again conveying simplicity and accessibility. The blue colour palette of the previous identity was retained to aid identifiability and the brand’s equity; and Moniker introduced a secondary palette to give the branding more flexibility as it grows into new markets and introduces new sub brands.
Moniker also introduced a new custom typeface, Coinbase Sans, which could be used across all applications, from dense information-heavy text to more expressive headlines. The Coinbase Sans font family comprises 36 styles (Optical versions, Display, Text, Micro and Mono), more than 29,000 glyphs, and supports over 200 Latin languages.
The font was heavily inspired by blue collar modernist typefaces, in particular types that had been overshadowed by more globally dominant fonts like Helvetica, Akzidenz Grotesk, and Univers.