Updated: Oct 4
Thea Sokolowski, Head of Marketing at the fast-growing South African fintech Stitch, sheds light on the journey and the narrative driving the company's recent rebrand, as it secures additional $25mn funding.
The fast-growing South African fintech Stitch has recently unveiled its new brand identity, a testament to its transition from a startup to a more established, "grown-up" organisation. The unveiling comes on the heels of a significant funding extension where Stitch secured $25 million in a Series A round led by Ribbit Capital, propelling the total funding to $46 million, a substantial backing underscoring the company’s promising trajectory.
Founded in 2019 in Cape Town, the company has swiftly navigated the fintech landscape, earning a reputable stance, especially within the African open banking sector. The rebrand comes at a pivotal time as the company matures, with a sharpened focus on catering to both global and local enterprise clients. To find out more about the idea behind Stitch's new brand move and get a glimpse of what the development and launch processes looked like, we spoke to its Head of Marketing Thea Sokolowski who led the initiative.
Read Thea's complete Q&A below.
What provoked Stitch's latest rebranding move?
We are 'growing up' from an early stage fintech to a growth stage business, focused on supporting large, global and local enterprise clients. Our initial branding made sense when we were a startup targeting fintechs, but it no longer reflected where we are today. We wanted to convey a look and feel that captured our core differentiators - smooth, sleek, reliable payments experiences built to enable our clients to enhance their performance.
What did the rebranding process look like? Did you work with an agency or was it an in-house effort?
The visual rebrand was done almost entirely in house by our design lead Greg, with some help from our UI designer Nika. Greg had a bit of support in the ideation phase from another designer at an agency in South Africa, and hired an external motion designer for the moving images. The website itself was designed by Greg and executed by a web dev firm. I wrote all the copy. We did this over the course of 4-5 months.
What was the hardest part of the rebranding process? How did you tackle this?
The hardest part was likely at the concept phase, actually developing the idea and metaphor that we would anchor our brand around, as this didn't really exist before. We have monthly calls with an advisor, Leland Maschmeyer of Collins, who was an amazing sounding board during this process.
Greg and I explored a lot of narratives and analogies together before we landed on the 'high performance payments' piece. We looked at things like invisible infrastructure, architecture, and many others. Performance payments fit best and immediately conjured ideas around different visuals and language we could use to describe our brand itself as well as individual products, and their impact on our clients. Since then, our full team has really run with it.
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What is Stitch's new brand all about?
The brand is centred around the idea of high performance payments - both emphasising the high tech, high performance and high reliability of our product itself as well as the improvements it enables in the performance of our clients' payment systems.
The visual identity started with the evolution of our logo icon, from its previously bubbly appearance, and kept the nod to the idea of a link (the original metaphor) while making it much more sleek, seamless and innovative. The small twist in the middle of the S is used elsewhere in the form of textures, clean lines, etc to emphasise the idea of seamlessness.
Other elements connote speed, movement and high tech at an infrastructural layer (ie the deconstructed pieces of a credit card chip that gets pulled apart and comes together, etc). The language also borrows from analogies of speed, tech and performance across sports and sportswear, automotive, music, architecture and other industries.
What about the activation? What tactics have you planned as part of your new brand’s activation campaign?
We're a B2B business with a very specific, targeted list of business prospects. We approached this in a phased rollout vs a big, splashy campaign. The key piece was to have alignment among the team, who all shared the announcement immediately on their own social channels, which for us is key to visibility among prospects and clients.
So, we started by simply announcing it on LinkedIn and encouraging our full team to share. We also shared it with all current clients. A few days after we launched, we hosted our flagship annual conference in Cape Town, where the new branding was printed for the first time and took centre stage. A week later, we announced our Series A Extension, with the story of the rebrand woven into the narrative around this next phase for Stitch. Next month, we'll host our annual full team retreat, and everyone will get swag with the new branding.
As of this week, it's also been incorporated into every public-facing piece of collateral, from the sales deck and the way we tell our story, to one-pagers, etc. We've also adjusted our language across the board, from the website to PPC campaigns, to content, to match.
What are you hoping to achieve from the rebrand over the next two to three years?
One of the core drivers for this was to enable us to reposition Stitch as a grown-up, reliable, dependable organisation that is prepared to serve large, global enterprise businesses. It's not market- or sector-specific and will hopefully enable us to attract leading enterprises, both in South Africa and in any market we expand into next.
What do you believe is the key to creating a successful fintech brand in 2023?
I think a lot of fintech brands have started to look and sound quite similar. A lot of the colors, indicators and USPs highlighted can almost be transposed across any brand.
What we think makes this [Stitch's rebranding] successful is a combination of unique elements that stand out and emphasise our differentiators, and lend themselves to future execution that will underscore our authority and deep knowledge in the space, which I believe are essential criteria businesses look for when they think about trusting a fintech with their payments. It also played out super well both online and in print / on stage, which adds to the idea of professionalism and seamlessness.