Bursting on to the fintech scene in 2015 as a mobile app and prepaid
card, Monzo is widely considered the most successful disruptor of
traditional banking services in the UK. And, unlike the flurry of socalled
‘challenger banks’ that launched around the same time,
Monzo has been able to build successfully upon its early momentum.
Monzo offers a mobile-only service, frictionless payments and an
interface that enables a more useful and transparent relationship
between users and their money. But what has done as much to
give Monzo its salience and cachet, alongside the superior UX, is
the visual and verbal flair it has brought to its product and marketing.
Dramatic and desirable neon cards, a conversational tone of voice
(with frequent use of emojis), and a direct and ongoing relationship
with its community as a way to shape the development of the
business – all of these have helped make Monzo the new thought
leader in UK financial services.
The big idea: No ordinary debit card.
A large part of Monzo’s success in growing its brand awareness has
been through its eye-catching and brightly coloured account card,
and the word of mouth it has generated.
The card, whose colour is defined as ‘hot coral’ by Monzo’s Head of
Design, is strikingly visible when used in public: on the daily commute
the burst of dramatic neon of a Monzo card at a station ticket barrier
disrupts the homogeneity of the usual black, grey and blue of the daily
grind, and has become a signal of being ‘in-the-know’ amongst urban
millennials, if not a fashion accessory.
Interestingly, the success of the coral cards as a marketing tool came
by accident. The colour was only intended to be used for a prototype
version of the account cards, but once the attention and the interest
it generated became apparent it was retained as the challenger
progressed from its beta phase. Now the colour is an equity Monzo
has successfully managed to make its own, a symbolic antidote to
the frequently grey and dull finance category.
Monzo has now issued more than 1.2 million coral cards to its users,
and in February 2019 began offering business accounts. Its position
as a thought leader in the UK has, in turn, invited newer challengers to
use it as a source of traction for their own launches – ‘Move over,
Monzo’ read Viola Black’s recent bus-side launch advertising, a mere
three years after Monzo’s own launch. And what better indicator is
there of the challenger’s rapid success than for new competitors
to portray it as the one that is setting the pace?