By the beginning of 2010, Citi North America’s popular ThankYou rewards program had become somewhat a victim of its own success. Years of co-branding arrangements had created a confusing collection of well over a dozen of various credit cards — including the PremierPass, Diamond Preferred Rewards, Simplicity Rewards, Home Rebate and Driver’s Edge Options cards. An overall reexamination and streamlining of the program was appropriate.
One of our goals when beginning the project was to develop another way, unique to Citi, of defining tiers. The traditional metals hierarchy of gold, platinum, titanium, etc. was used throughout the industry, but without any consistency. Is platinum worth more than titanium? Or is it the other way around?
Team member Jamie Burns came up with the brilliant idea of tiers based on the atmosphere. The basic level would equate with the troposphere (the part we occupy), work its way up through the clouds and end at the most premium level, or the exosphere. Early explorations attempted to represent this graphically, but that option was rejected because of the potential visual conflicts which would arise in a co-branded card and the desire for simplicity.
Ultimately we decided on a simple design which echoed the Citi logo and the geocorona at the outermost limit of the exosphere. The colors for the initial set of consumer cards would mirror the blues of the sky as we see it: starting with the light blue seen closer to the horizon, and progressing to the darker blues closer to outer space.
Eventually, as customers’ current cards expire and are replaced, approximately a million and a half of these cards will be in wallets across North America. Thus making this project probably the closest any of us will get to designing money.
Agency: Landor Associates
Creative direction, design: Mark Kingsley
Strategy: Julius Roberge
Strategy, planning: Michael Sundén
Design: Jamie Burns, Amanda Bowers, Natalie Cho, Alex Ching
Production: Mary Zehnter
We were happy to see Publicis use the “Earth to Space” concept in the storyline for an introductory commercial.