The brand vs product: why Bolt reflects my problem with modern brand creation ⚡️

Bolt recently had a rebrand. I personally love it. I loved it so much that I headed over to their website to take a look at their product. I wanted to understand whether it was the same Bolt that I saw last year or if they’d supercharged the product like their branding.

Bolt’s brand message is speed. “The quickest, safest, effortless-est way to pay for something online.” It’s paired with bold colours that is exciting, as if people are going to celebrate sending me money.

I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe Typeform meets Square, I guess.

So, what is the reality?

Bolt is… Not really that fast, or exciting.

From an outsider’s perspective, it looks no different to a Shopify checkout. I would even argue that Square’s payment link is closer to Bolt’s “one click checkout” than Bolt is.

Bolt’s demo shows 3 button clicks… Square’s is just 1.

Brand guidelines are hot shit at the moment. Brand guidelines have recently been positioning every company as the type of brand which you’d buy their merchandise, even if that company does something like pest control.

There’s nothing wrong with elevating your brand, but if the core product doesn’t match this vibe, what’s the point?

Is it a surprise that multi-billion pound company can afford to hire someone to make a really impressive brand? No, not really. Bolt could probably sell a bunch of branded hats & hoodies with this new art direction, but I don’t really know why.

Is it because they have to somehow justify their company value, & making it more desirable might just make this a reality? Or is it because looking really cool is a decent distraction when their underlying product is kind of meh.

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