Ant Financial

Ant Financial

Small steps, big thinking in the Chinese financial services market

For the past few years, there has been a real buzz surrounding the possibilities created by the Internet for financial services in China. Alibaba Group is no stranger to the buzz, having launched Alipay and Yu’e Bao to subvert traditional banking services.

The Challenge

In 2014, this led to a more decisive push from Alibaba to pioneer China’s online payments frontier with a new umbrella brand to guide these and other innovative financial services offerings. At the time, this was new territory for the financial services sector, and so it required something different to break the conventions and make an impact.

Financial services is a sector with clearly defined conventions relating to trust, stability and confidence. Conversely, the Internet carries equally strong associations, namely transparency, freedom and innovation. Together, these associations seemed to contradict one another, but the challenge to build a brand that embraced this tension provided the creative breakthrough.

The Solution

We found the solution in the perfect balance of the brand’s financial and mobile attributes to establish an emotional connection with consumers.

Ant Financial brings to life the company’s vision – ‘to bring about small but positive changes to the world’ – because behind the company’s brand stands the people who bring small but positive change to the Chinese business world and beyond. And just like ants, although small, they work together, have amazing strength, and never give up on the path to reach their destination.

Consequently, the Ant Financial brand captures the personality of the online world in a way that still plays to the strength of financial services. What’s more, the playful identity makes for a flexible brand identity system, flexing to suit different its difference characteristics – finance, technology, customer service, technical imagination. Ultimately, the brand is designed to interact with products and services, and to build a more intimate connection with consumers.

Beyond the brand identity, we also developed strategic guidelines for both the masterbrand and sub-brands to ensure close alignment across the portfolio.

The Results

The Ant Financial brand was launched in late 2014 and immediately caught the attention of media, investors and the general public. Ant Financial’s current valuation is expected to be RMB 200-250bn (US$30-37.5bn), and the brand has started the preparation of the first round of financing for future IPO, likely 2017, having attracted a large number of SOEs (State-Owned Enterprises) as well as other well-known private equity funds.

Ant Financial was also awarded Best of the Best at the prestigious Red Dot Awards in 2015.