Why it pays for financial brands to take creative risks


How we helped private equity firm, Axcel, make a bold brand statement that stood out from the rest

When we first looked at the private equity category, we noticed two things. Firstly, everyone looked the same. Secondly, everyone positioned themselves in more or less the same way. It was clear to us that there was a spectrum of values, with purpose on one end and profit on the other. Most brands sat at the extremes, but what about the gaping hole in the middle?

Surely, delivering good returns and creating sustainable businesses is equally important? But no brands were convincingly connecting the two objectives. While every brand spoke about what they do, no one was talking about how they did it. For us, it was the how that could provide the connection between financial and social value and prevent the brand’s promise from evaporating into a cloud of idealism.

Our first meeting with Axcel supported our hypothesis. This was a group of passionate pragmatists. Their attitude and character were what convinced people to work with them, so we needed to ensure that was reflected in their communication.

We used the tension between ‘good returns’ and ‘good for society’ to create guidelines for the copywriting. Where other brands’ headlines merely stated what they did, ours would express an opinion and take a position. We let the how dominate the storytelling and used spirited pragmatism to cut through the fluffiness of the competition.

But it was also important that this attitude was expressed visually, too. Inspired by another field known for straddling conflicting notions – the financial press, we created a unique illustrative style. Not only did that add conceptual tension, it also put us alongside the industry’s thought leaders.



To tie all of this together, we created and developed a new Axcel website. A unique palette of colours, headlines, illustrations and a scrolling, storytelling flow brought the brand’s positioning and character to life. In terms of content, we focused on how they operate, rather than what they offer and optimised everything to reflect real user questions and support good SEO.  

The result is a distinctive and cohesive expression that stays true to the character of the brand and its employees. One that we hope will generate excitement in investors and companies about what they could achieve with Axcel.