Taking a digital privacy provider from fear to freedom

Gave users control over their data with a purposeful brand idea, ‘Shift Control’
Built the identity around digital gestures: swipe, drag, pinch, push
Humanised and simplifed complex ideas through illustration


ExpressVPN is a leading digital privacy and security provider. With their flagship consumer virtual private network (VPN) service, users can encrypt their connection with just one tap – enabling them to protect their online activity.


Online privacy and security has become an increasingly important topic due to the overreach of big tech, institutions and governments. With an expectation of strong and continued growth within this industry, ExpressVPN approached DesignStudio to help them stand apart in a hugely competitive landscape and build a brand to set them up for ambitious growth.


We dived into the fascinating world of VPNs, digital privacy and online security. We learned all about encryption, protocols and virtual tunnels. Two camps within the category of online privacy and security started to emerge: those who trade on fear to motivate users to subscribe and corporate behemoths who bundled their VPN behind more traditional products like antivirus. ExpressVPN needed a different approach. A brand that made users feel empowered to explore, not just protected from danger.

Brand strategy

We defined a purposeful brand idea: Shift Control. It speaks to ExpressVPN’s ethos of putting control back in the hands of the user, giving them the power over their data and experiences online.

Brand expression

Shift Control became the foundation for everything that followed. We created a visual identity built around six key gestures: swipe, drag, pinch, push, rotate and shake. Inspired by the way we interact with the digital world, they form the foundation of the system across brand, product and website. At the core of the new identity is the ExpressVPN icon and word mark.

Clean and mature, it's been crafted to work hard in all the places it has to. The new brand also has to explain a lot of abstract topics in a way that doesn't confuse or intimidate audiences. To make the complex personable and charming, we partnered with illustrator Ping Zhu to weave humanity and personality into the brand, product and digital experience.


The result is a compelling, differentiated experience that is already positively impacting conversion.

“While the new UI is crisp and the logo sleek, the rest of the new design system is decidedly friendlier, with bright tones, rounded shapes and human-centric illustrations at the heart of the new look.”

Creative Review

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