Swisscom iO, the app that delivers free calls, chats and images, was launched onto the global market in June 2013. Within 24 hours it was the number 1 free app in the Swiss iTunes store. People had embraced iO’s ambitious vision, of providing users with a single place for all their channels of communication, in one secure and easy-to-use place.
iO represents an innovative new direction for Swisscom, ensuring its leading position in a rapidly changing market. Moving Brands was engaged from the project’s inception, helping to shape what iO could be (at launch and in the future) defining and designing the visual identity and the user experience of the final product, as well as the website, brand films, photography treatment, guidelines, messaging and launch campaigns.
With relentless changes to the way people communicate (text, voice, video, images and alerts, populating a bewildering network of conversations, updates, and shared work and play), Swisscom faces challenges to traditional revenue streams and decreased brand visibility.
Based on our six-year partnership with Swisscom, we were approached by an internal innovation team to support their vision of simplifying and enhancing the way customers communicate, in a streamlined, integrated app. The ambition was to set a benchmark for the industry.
Our first step was to understand the long-term opportunities and implications of this new app. Although the app has launched with scaled back functionality, we worked with Swisscom from the outset to consider and work towards the huge opportunities for extending the offer. We explored how the tool could be used across devices and in conjunction with other devices, the impact of geo-fencing, and how different customers would engage with the tool. The easy-to-use prototypes we created mapped out these long-term plans and were used as tangible models to encourage buy-in from stakeholders.
We then defined the service principles: smart, simple and close. These characteristics would support the development and creation of the name, visual identity, interface and communications.
iO is the first offer from Swisscom that sits apart from the master brand. As such, and as Swisscom continue to diversify their offer, we developed a brand architecture model that would support their on-going growth and diversification, positioning iO as a service brand.
The service principles immediately guided the naming process. iO is taken from the name of Jupiter’s closest moon. The i represents the individual and the O the individual’s world – and together they suggest the close proximity of the two.
As with the name, the mark expresses simplicity, with the individual symbolised by the i, and the individual’s world by the O. The i is taken from the Swisscom wordmark, with the use of the Swisscom serif typeface strengthening the relationship between master brand and service brand. The agile, vibrant character of the O animates intelligently to bring life, motion and vibrancy to the mark.
We built generative design into the heart of the project, experimenting and sketching in code from the outset. The outcome was bespoke software to generate an endless array of vibrant imagery to be used in applications across the brand. This supporting graphic language utilises crops of the colour gradients found within the O symbol, offering rich visual textures ideal for screen and print platforms.
The fundamental pillars of the UI stretch across all devices and platforms; the layered composition can be seen running through the wireframes and sitemaps to the final website and app. As the UI language was being developed in tandem with the visual identity, they informed and shaped each other. The O of the mark is seen in the circular call screen keys, suggesting that the ‘O’ in ‘iO’ is for touch. The iO tag, which shows which of a user’s contacts are on the iO platform, is derived from the monochrome brandmark. When the user interacts with iO, by calling, messaging, or selecting items, the cyan blue is used to convey an on state, giving vibrancy to people’s interactions with iO.
When we were looking to launch a new offer, Moving Brands were the obvious strategic and creative partner. Their vision and creative approach challenged us to create the most beautiful, human-centered service possible. Their holistic approach – as experts in UX and UI, brand, story-telling, go to market – is invaluable. The business is thrilled with the outcome.
Michael Kerle, Senior Director and Head of Product Marketing iO Swisscom Ltd.
We led several programmes of work to launch the service onto the market and to bring the brand to life for internal and external audiences.
Swisscom understood that people want a solution that simplifies the overwhelming choices they have in communications. The launch campaign centred on this – showcasing iO as an innovative app that meets people’s needs in a secure, simple and beautiful-to-use way. What sets iO apart from its competitors is the fact it is powered by a national telco, and is seamlessly integrated with Swisscom’s legacy telco systems. This integration provides real value beyond just the smart features of the app – such as using iO abroad to call all telephone numbers back in Switzerland for free.
This relationship between Swisscom and iO was carefully considered, to drive brand loyalty with existing and new customers whilst establishing iO as a unique service offer in its own right.
The messaging we developed for the iO and Swisscom websites, web banners and print campaigns supported iO’s positioning of smart, simple and close. As a messaging app that puts people first, we created a warm, expressive photographic library and guidelines for use.
We created a brand film to embody the spirit of the iO experience, illustrating the challenges of fragmented communications in the modern world and how iO could simplify them. Like the photographic style, the film is warm, vibrant, with a focus firmly on people, not technology. The Intro film provided a more functional navigation of the app, iterating the service principles, and removing any barriers to use.
Within the first 24 hours of launch, the app hit 120,000 registrations. iO was the number 1 free app in the Swiss app store, with over 200,000 messaging sessions occurring every hour, and a picture being sent in-app every 2 seconds. Within four months, almost 5 million free messages had been sent, from 195 different countries.