Trendy Life’s visible identification places a special spin on insurance coverage

Life insurance is a purchase which most people only make a couple of times in their lives. It’s a process that is further complicated by the antiquated nature of the industry, which typically relies on outdated legacy systems and unreliable manual processes.

Tech startup Modern Life was founded in the hope of upending traditional approaches to life insurance. The brokerage commissioned XXIX, a branding studio based between Berlin, New York and Texas, to help bring this vision to life.

The studio’s brief was to create an identity that would appeal to a surprisingly broad demographic. “The audience for the project is a bit complicated. On the advisor side, it’s a mix of industry veterans with decades of experience accustomed to personal relationships, to newcomers interested in working with a technology-powered startup,” says the studio.

“On the end client side, we wanted to reach younger people who are used to signing up for services like this in slick new phone apps, but the typical audience for this kind of product is definitely older.”

The type system, which centres on the brand’s looping wordmark, is a subtle way to differentiate messaging for different audiences and the various places in which the brand lives – from digital product interfaces to legal forms.

“As we developed the monogram and wordmarks that both have looping curves, we knew we had a fit with Noi. It has alternate characters with looping swashes that let us dial up expressiveness in certain contexts, but the standard character set is based on the modernist utility we were looking for,” says the studio.

“We picked Bradford because of its elegance – especially in the italic – mixed with a bit of contemporary quirk (as seen in the proportions in characters like the ‘a’). It was an easy way of adding a sense of credibility while at the same time communicating that it’s a fresh take.”

Another key design element is inspired by historic documents that either advertised insurance policies or, in some cases, were the actual policy itself. “They’re really interesting artifacts of graphic design. In addition to elaborate typography and remarkable printing, a lot of them have this motif of a classically ornamental cutaway framing an illustrated scene, usually showing the kinds of disasters you were insuring against,” says the studio.

As part of the brand’s identity, these historic-inspired framing devices become “portals” onto modern lives, with the concept brought to life by French illustrator Vincent Mahé.

“A lot of Vincent’s work illustrates large spaces with intricate detail — landscapes, for instance, viewed as if from above, but with precise and charming features. We knew we wanted to be able to crop into illustrations when creating the portals, and Vincent’s use of scale was perfect for that need.”