Kalshi is a CFTC-regulated exchange that offers a new asset class: event contracts. These contracts are structured as questions about whether a future event will happen and can be answered by a simple Yes or No. As one of their first design hires, I got the opportunity to build Kalshi's brand identity from the ground up.
To find a starting point for Kalshi's brand identity, I wanted to understand its truth. Thus, I hosted a branding workshop and invited around a dozen participants in the company to contribute their ideas so that everyone has a part in building Kalshi's brand together.
I started the workshop with a table discussion to get everyone's perspective on how they see Kalshi. Some of the questions included: "What is the core of Kalshi's organization? How did it begin? Who are Kalshi's key audiences?". Then, we moved onto the character development portion of the workshop. In this portion, I asked everyone to imagine if Kalshi has a personality that they could describe to a friend - what characteristics would come up? From this exercise, the three words that best encapsulate everyone's ideas Kalshi are: Informed, Energetic, and Pioneering. These three words can help people envision who Kalshi is as a person.
This person is informed, so they keep up with current events, they want to know what's happening across different industries, and they have a lot of opinions to share.
They are energetic, so they're always eager to share these opinions. They're quick on their feet, and they thrive against hardship.
Kalshi developed a whole new asset class for event contracts, so they're certainly pioneering. They're ahead of the curve. They're always looking forward to what the future has in store and figure out how they can be the first to dive into uncharted territory. This person embodied the confluence between unlikely and obvious.
Since these three words were selected from a group of words everyone contributed, I wanted to build these characteristics into Kalshi's brand DNA. With these three words in mind, I moved onto crafting the brand story through design.
The Efficient Markets Hypothesis states that when a prediction market gives a contract a value of p cents, it actually has a p% probability of happening. Since this concept is foundational to Kalshi's core product, I represented this concept in the logo by drawing a cent as a coin in the middle of the canvas (fig 01). Kalshi took that concept and create a new asset class, event contracts. Two coins overlapped represent the tension between the binary options we offer in the event contracts. Each event contract asks a question that starts with "Will something happens" and has an answer that is either yes or no (fig 02). Using the overlapped coins, we begin to see a unique Kalshi pattern (fig 03). I isolated the logo-mark from the pattern and simplified it into Kalshi's logo (fig 04).
The logo is symmetrical, minimal, and abstract. It is drafted to encompass all of the Kalshi's qualities and the story behind its construction. The logomark and the wordmark were carefully aligned and measured, so there are proportion and rationality behind everything. The logo has high visibility from giant billboards to small mobile screens due to its thick strokes. It can also be stylized into 3D.
Since Kalshi was founded on a mission to help people build better conviction, I was looking for a sans-serif typeface that is decisive and bold - qualities that Kalshi strives to embody. I decided to go with Aeonik, a neo-grotesque typeface designed by CoType Foundry. Because of its Modernist roots, Aeonik was intended to last for an extended period of time without going out of style. Aeonik letterform captures the decisiveness I was looking for, and it is also the perfect typeface that can be used for both display and body text.
Since Kalshi is an exchange platform, I took inspiration for the color palette from the charts typically seen on the trading floor. I extracted those colors from the charts and adjusted them to create a set of distinct brand colors for Kalshi. The four core colors are then expanded with different tones to accommodate diverse brand expressions. These color pairings from the palette were fine-tuned to meet the minimum contrast ratio, ensuring accessibility and legibility in both print and digital formats.
On typical marketing posters, brands usually make statements. However, the forecasting questions are the most alluring and essential part of our brand - I wanted to showcase these questions as the main components on our posters. One can think of the posters as a bookshelf and the forecasting questions as the books tastefully displayed on this bookshelf.
In the real world, there can be multiple events happening simultaneously. I wanted to convey this force of energy onto our posters by placing multiple forecasting event questions on the same poster. These posters hope to illustrate the three qualities that Kalshi possesses. It is energetic in its visual expression. It is informative through its forecasting questions, letting people know what the major current events are. It is pioneering because Kalshi allows people to trade directly on these current event outcomes.
I developed a grid-based modular system to be utilized throughout the buildout of these posters. This system allows for photography, type, and colors to seamlessly alternate in and out while maintaining the look and feel of a holistic brand system.
I worked with the talented illustrator Gica Tam to create illustrations that would introduce Kalshi's product concept in an approachable yet succinct manner. In these illustrations, one can see Kalshi's brand personality poke through. The environment is energetic, informative, and pioneering. We also sneaked in Kal the Robot into the product illustrations, who acts as Kalshi's unofficial mascot. Officially stating that Kalshi has a mascot might not be super cool, but sprinkling or hinting at this recurring character throughout the product might be a fun Easter Egg that only Kalshi's employees and true fans of the product might notice.