Wunderdogs win Core77 Award for branding of Aza Finance

Wunderdogs Agency have won the Visual Communication Category at this year's Core 77 Design Awards for their branding of AZA, a Nairobi-based financial technology company.

The Core77 Design Awards is a prestigious competition held by NYC-based Core77 magazine. Since the awards' inception in 2011, the program has welcomed nearly 10,000 entries across 18 design disciplines in over 49 countries around the world. The Core77 Visual Communication jury consists of esteemed design professionals such as Pentagram Partner Eddie Opara, Smart Design Director of Design Stephanie Yung, MAST Principal Shady Shahid and others.

“As a young agency, winning Core77’s Visual Communication Award is absolutely groundbreaking for both the team and for our future as a business. It is a great honor to be recognized alongside legendary agencies and designers, especially for one of the most interesting and challenging projects we’ve tackled to date. I am so grateful for having supported AZA’s team on their mission to facilitate the flow of currency into Africa” - said Daria Gonzalez, Wunderdogs’ co-founder.

When working with AZA, Wunderdogs sought to create a Pan-African brand for the continent’s leading financial technology company. Simply put, AZA helps foreign businesses transfer money into Africa: and African businesses transfer money out of the continent, bypassing the US Dollar intermediary currency. As a local and global enterprise the question the agency sought to answer was: how do you create a brand that honours it’s sub-saharan roots, appeals to all countries in the continent and resonates with global clients and investors? Wunderdogs answered that question successfully, with the resulting identity helping AZA secure $15M from the Development Bank of Southern Africa to aid its global expansion.

Joining Wunderdogs as 2020 winners in other categories are Microsoft, Google Hardware Design, Fuseproject, Pentagram, Studio O+A and other industrial, product and graphic design giants.

This year’s panel of judges highlighted the impressive thinking behind the brand infrastructure and visual narrative - specifically referencing the way the agency intelligently abstracted shapes from the flag-style logo and integrated them within the rest of the design language. When announcing the winner Pentagram partner Eddie Opera noted the way in which Wunderdogs drew on the geometric shapes found in African flags but not their colors, instead choosing to create a new palette for AZA through which the brand communicates with its audience. Bobby Martin, co-founder of Champions Design added “there was a lot of very good thinking that came to life in how the system was built”.

About Wunderdogs:

Wunderdogs is a tech-focused creative agency that provides strategy, design and production services to high growth businesses.

Aza project team:

Art Director: Natalie Shirokova
Senior Designer: Thalita Teglas
Strategy Lead: Anna Bogdanov
Head of Client Services: Oliver Fitz-Gibbon
COO: Olga Svitelska
CEO: Daria Gonzalez



Press and Partnerships:

To preview award-winning AZA case, visit Core77 page


How do vision and mission statements impact a company's long-term direction?

Effective vision and mission statements should ideally constitute important tools in formulating a company’s strategy. They should largely remain unchanged through the years, though a significant pivot may bring about new vision and mission statements. Together, they work to define the focus of the business and how it impacts the world. 

The vision statement is a representation of your company’s view of a better world. The mission statement reflects how it sets about to achieve this vision. They work together to create internal alignment and help with strategic decision making. When planning for the future, developing new products, or experimenting with new strategies, teams can perform a quick check against the vision and mission statements to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the essence of the brand. 

In short, the vision and mission statements are powerful tools which can and should impact decisions across the organizations, making them important factors in a company’s long-term direction.

How does brand strategy influence the overall success of a business?

Your brand strategy reflects how your brand sees the world and its role within it. It is the framework that, ideally, should guide all your communications (both external and internal) and audience touchpoints, i.e. each interaction an audience member has with your business. 

Having standardized communication across all channels and touchpoints makes business processes smoother and positively influences your client relationships, ensuring you develop strong, long-term connections with your customers. It also simplifies strategic decision-making and aligns your team. All these factors are vital to the success of a business.

How do messaging frameworks help communicate your brand message effectively?

Messaging frameworks are structured guides that outline the core messages, value propositions, and differentiators of a brand. They ensure consistency across all communications, from marketing materials and social media posts to customer service interactions. By defining key messages that resonate with the brand's target audiences, messaging frameworks help ensure that a brand’s communications are clear and memorable. 

They also help organizations stay aligned internally and ensure that each member, regardless of their role, understands what the brand’s key message is and how to communicate it effectively. This internal alignment is crucial for presenting a unified brand image to the outside world.

What specific elements contribute to a brand's verbal identity?

A brand’s verbal identity should align your team on how your brand communicates and how this communication changes depending on the situation. It defines a specific and recognizable language through which your brand can deliver its message to your audience or audiences.

Typically, a verbal identity includes some, or all, of the following elements:

Brand personality: This captures the human traits or characteristics that your brand embodies, such as being adventurous, sophisticated, or reliable, which help shape how your brand is perceived.

Brand voice: The brand voice reflects how your brand reflects its personality across all communication channels.

Brand tone: While the brand voice remains consistent, the brand tone can change depending on the context of the message and the audience being addressed, ranging from formal and professional to informal and friendly.

Messaging frameworks: These are strategic tools that outline the key messages your brand intends to communicate to its different target audiences, ensuring that all messaging is aligned with your brand's mission, vision, and value propositions.

Messaging examples: These provide specific examples of how your brand's messaging might be applied in various scenarios.

Style and grammar guidelines: These outline your preferred spelling, grammar, and style, ensuring that your communication is consistent across the board. 

What are some key considerations when developing a tone of voice for a brand?

The first and most important consideration is the brand’s personality. While businesses are functional, they still communicate with people – and people primarily connect with stories and personas. Your brand’s personality will define a set of human characteristics which reflect how it sees itself in the world. By giving your brand these human attributes, you are making it both distinctive and easier to identify with. The tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality.

It’s also important to consider your target market and your audience’s expectations. While having a distinctive tone of voice is important for memorability, there is such a thing as being too different. If all brands in your segment adopt a serious, professional tone, and you would like to be fun and playful, there is certainly space for that, but consider very carefully why you are doing it.


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