Credit scores have a massive impact on financial opportunities for everyone—from getting a credit card or renting an apartment, to purchasing a car or a home.
Yet, until Credit Karma launched in 2008, the average person didn’t have free access to their credit scores. People had to request it, wait days for it to arrive in the mail, and pay for access. How to improve your scores was even more nebulous, full of misinformation and folklore. Credit Karma realized the cost and secrecy around credit scores was not only inefficient—it was hurting millions of people. So they created a company based on a new idea: Everybody should have easy access to their credit scores for free.
Credit Karma has since evolved into a powerhouse of the personal finance industry—with over 120 million members, including more than half of U.S. millennials. Their offering has expanded from free credit scores to identity monitoring and protection, shopping for loans, credit cards, checking and savings accounts, and more—all designed to help people make financial progress.
Throughout this period of growth, Credit Karma’s brand had remained steadfast—a friendly shepherd through a complex and confusing industry. But, as is often the case with successfully expanding businesses, Credit Karma outgrew their existing brand expression and design system, while copycat competitors created a messy field of look-alike offerings.
Collins was invited to help evolve Credit Karma’s brand and visual expression to better communicate the vision of the multifaceted company they had become. They needed to be differentiated from encroaching competitors, and bring a stronger voice and coherence to support their next decade of growth.
Through interviews, workshops, and strategy sessions with the teams at Credit Karma, it became clear that they had always been motivated by an ambition much larger than free credit scores—they saw themselves from the start as champions of financial progress for all.
This idea of progress sparked our approach towards their identity. To them, a person’s finances weren’t a mysterious, static puzzle that was solved once and forgotten. Rather, finance is more like a garden—nurtured, fed, and tended to through ups and downs, across the seasons of life.
To capture this idea, we needed to create a visual expression that bridged the reality of the present with the possibility of the future. An identity that would inspire trust without sacrificing optimism. One that not only put people at the very center of finance, but a brand as in-progress, evolving and as diverse as their customers.
The vibrant art of collage became the crux of our solution—a universal technique where photo and mixed media are assembled to create a new whole. We explored photography of people juxtaposed with elements of information graphics, illustration, and endearing color—what better way to visualize optimistic futures, hopes, dreams and possibilities in progress?
Our work with Credit Karma has covered customer and brand strategy, design and visual identity, tone of voice, iconography and messaging—culminating in a new and comprehensive brand operating system. The result is a revitalized brand that seeks to make finance engaging, without being flippant—and doesn’t sacrifice quality, personality or attention to detail for growth and scale.
In true Credit Karma fashion, our goal was a fresh re-imagination that would celebrate every step—the successes as well as the start-overs—that we all can make as we pursue our own financial progress.
The designs in this case study are purposefully not 1:1 with the live Credit Karma experience, and should be viewed as proof of concept only.
Collins team: Karin Fyhrie, Ben Crick, Erik Berger Vaage, Mackenzie Pringle, Yeun Kim, Eric Park, Kris Wong, Victoria Thomas, Michael Di Leo, Louis Mikolay, Carissa Justice, Diva DiMartini