Auto Trader

  • Brand identity
  • Brand strategy
  • Art direction
  • Digital design

Silicon Valley meets Lancashire

Auto Trader is the UK’s leading digital automotive marketplace. It makes exclusively digital products, with an average 55 million monthly visits – 70% of those on mobile. Despite all this, some people still think it’s a print magazine for middle-aged men.

We worked closely with the internal brand, design and UX teams to shift this perception. By interpreting a strategic repositioning into a brand design language, we’ve created principles to guide the functional experiences they make day to day.

The system builds on the brand’s heritage, embodying a personality that reflects the business as it is, not as it was – and evolving into something purpose-built for digital platforms.

Personality guides design
Building on a new brand positioning, we ran a workshop establishing three personality traits to guide the approach. These formed the basis of shared design sprints defining the brand components: colour, typography, imagery, illustration, graphic assets and motion principles.

Building a robust system
We evolved the Auto Trader logo to work harder across digital platforms. A wider colour palette appeals to a broader audience base while building on the core blue & red of the brand’s heritage. And a robust new type family brings a more welcoming tone to headlines, messaging and data visualisation.

A more emotive brand
Auto Trader used a lot of product-led photography, creating the sense of a transactional brand. We introduced a more emotive approach, helping the audience to picture themselves using the vehicles. Copy was vital to this, and we worked with Reed Words to establish a more conversational Auto Trader voice, with guidelines for the internal teams using it.

“Our team feel excited and inspired now – they know what they need to achieve, and have the tools to do it.”

Martin Murray
Digital Design Manager, Auto Trader

Visualising the abstract
Beyond the car itself, Auto Trader often struggled to visualise abstract topics like part exchange or insurance, without resorting to clichéd photography. Ownership of manufacturer imagery had always been a challenge too. We introduced an illustration system to solve these problems, while communicating a more friendly personality.

Motion principles
In digital products, the experience of a brand is informed by the quality and responsiveness of interaction. We explored and defined a set of motion principles that will guide the Auto Trader teams, building the sense of a united brand across all platforms.

“Your agile approach to working with us – collaboratively, without hierarchy, and in iterations – has helped us create a brand we can really own.”

Lei Sorvisto
Audience & Brand Director, Auto Trader

UI and implementation
We brought the principles together across UI components, app screens and web pages, establishing the ideal balance of colour, illustration and photography.

All together in one hub
As a data-orientated digital business, it’s important that everyone understands the new brand toolkit. We built one of our custom online Brand Hubs, introducing all aspects of the new design language. This allows the internal teams at Auto Trader to access principles, example executions and downloadable assets, helping them to implement the brand consistently.