Klarna: Beyond bold (re)branding

Klarna: Beyond bold (re)branding

In our latest fireside chat, Karl Wikström, Chief Storyteller at Frontify, welcomed Klarna’s CMO David Sandström and Executive Creative Director Tove Langseth to discuss how they turned their fearless ideas into a rebranding that was right on the money.

Rebranding in the complex and traditional finance industry can be tricky. Doing this while entering the US market makes the process nearly impossible. But Klarna, a licensed bank and one of the world’s leading payment providers, succeeded in combining both.

Six years after this bold identity experiment, Klarna CMO David Sandström and Tove Langseth, Klarna’s new executive creative director, discuss their rule-breaking rebranding that sparked an entire business transformation.

Reverse-engineered rule-breaking

When Klarna founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski decided to rebrand the company and asked David to kick-start the process, one thing was clear: The rebranding needed to be aligned with Klarna’s business vision and, even more importantly, be bold enough to shake up the somewhat dusty finance industry.

Looking back on the whole process, Tove and David identified two reasons why the rebranding was “smoooth” (a nod to Klarna’s award-winning campaign slogan) and successful: First, they worked backward and looked at the smallest possible asset, the check-out process. The team then took a bottom-up approach and began with specifics instead of providing a finalized style guide and mood board with the complete rebranding.

The second success factor was (not) built on the traditional routes of the financial sector. For banks and financial institutions, there’s a strict playbook on how to operate regarding safety, security, and stability. The team, wanting to avoid predictability, was inspired by one question: How can we break the traditional rules with Klarna’s rebranding? Whatever they did was contrary to what the industry playbook said. These bold decisions guided the rebranding journey and took the brand overseas.

A-listers bring the brand to life — and the US

Cultural differences and expectations differ a lot when it comes to banking. So, introducing the new brand identity to new markets, especially the US, required a creative approach.

Tove, David, and the Klarna team came up with the idea to partner with US celebrities to help fuel the brand transformation and enter the new market. Their plan worked, and Klarna worked with some iconic stars — including Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, and A$AP Rocky.

For more insights on how Klarna’s bold new brand identity came to life, watch the whole fireside chat with Tove and David.