DesignStudio 18 ExpressVPN

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    James Duru
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    George Adams
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Collette Duong, Hatty Middleton, Mark Liney
  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Ping Zhu
  • Client

ExpressVPN is a leading digital privacy and security provider. With their flagship consumer virtual private network (VPN) service, users can encrypt their connection with just one tap – enabling them to protect their online activity, keep personal information private, leaving them free to explore the internet without blocks or borders.

Online privacy and security has become an increasingly important topic due to the overreach of big tech, institutions and governments. With the category expecting strong continued growth, ExpressVPN approached DesignStudio to help them stand apart in a hugely competitive landscape and build a brand to set them up for their next stage of ambitious growth.

We jumped on a plane to meet the team in person and immerse ourselves in ExpressVPN’s world. We dived into the fascinating world of VPNs, digital privacy and online security. Learning all about encryption, protocols and virtual tunnels.

Two camps within the category started to emerge: those who trade on fear and negativity to motivate users to subscribe and corporate behemoths who bundled their VPN behind more traditional products like antivirus. ExpressVPN needed a different approach. A brand that made users feel empowered to explore, not just protected from danger. One built on expertise, not trading on clichéd fears.

We defined a purposeful brand idea: Shift Control. It speaks to ExpressVPN’s ethos of putting control back in the hands of the user, giving them the power over their data and experiences online.

This became the foundation for everything that followed. We created a visual identity built around six key gestures: swipe, drag, pinch, push, rotate and shake. Inspired by the way we interact with the digital world, they form the foundation of the system across brand, product and .com. At the core of the new identity is the ExpressVPN icon and wordmark. Clean and mature, it's been crafted to work hard in all the places it has to.

The new brand also has to explain a lot of abstract topics in a way that didn't confuse or intimidate audiences. To solve this, we partnered with illustrator Ping Zhu. Her illustrations weave humanity and personality into the brand, product and .com. Making the complex personable and charming.

The result is a compelling, differentiated experience that is already positively impacting conversion. With a new strategy and identity in place, (supported with the tools and training for launch) we're delighted to see the ExpressVPN team bring the brand to life with passion and purpose.