Nasdaq spent 10 years creating advertising and marketing aimed at positioning itself as a global leader among financial markets. In support of this strategic initiative Nasdaq began a corporate wide design program to reflect its strength as a uniquely efficient, dynamic and automated marketplace. The design program included a corporate identity system, numerous web sites and applications, and a pool of marketing literature and support materials to reflect its strength as a model that all financial markets including the NYSE would soon emulate.

The Backstory

Nasdaq was an up and comer. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was historically known to be the de facto stock market. But Nasdaq wanted to change this. Started in 1971 as the first automated marketplace, Nasdaq was designed to accommodate the smaller, mostly technology stocks that needed a more efficient marketplace. But it was now 1989 and Nasdaq had evolved as their listings grew to become major companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Intel and Apple. Nasdaq wanted to continue to grow and serve the biggest and best companies in the market. But Nasdaq was continually losing their larger listed companies to the NYSE (10% in the prior two years). They also wanted to be in a better position to attract the larger IPOs. Nasdaq decided it would invest heavily in marketing and advertising, a first for a major U.S. stock market.

A Convergence of Forces

The information revolution spawned by personal computers and the internet was taking hold. As a result, there was significant growth in investing by the general public. This contributed to the excitement and momentum of the time. In addition, to Nasdaq’s credit, with some key hires, they created a culture of fearless innovation within its marketing department.

Phase 1 – Advertising & The Nasdaq Identity

The initial effort centered around a marketing campaign to build awareness and understanding of Nasdaq. A television campaign touted Nasdaq as “The Stock Market for The Next 100 Years”. As part of the development of the campaign a corporate identity was needed. We created a new logo and identity system for Nasdaq. The Nasdaq logo was developed to embody a newer, more advanced stock market. It utilized a bright blue color with letterforms with square geometries inspired by the screen pixel. A distinctive element is the square used for the tail of the Q.

Part of the focus of developing the Nasdaq Identity was coming up with visuals for its communications. We started to feature the workstation screen used by traders in their marketing literature because it was one of the only visual elements that said something important about what Nasdaq does. This trading screen image was the beginning of creating a more concrete sense of Nasdaq for people.

Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square

Not long after completing new sales literature, Nasdaq came to us with the idea to do an installation in the lobby in Washington DC of a series of their trading workstation screens. At this time computer technology was becoming sophisticated enough where data driven graphic visualization were possible. This led to us suggesting rather than simply installing trading workstations in the lobby we could more ambitiously take Nasdaq’s market data feeds and create a custom graphical data display.

We started to realize that market data delivery was at the core of the solution to the longstanding dilemma – how to compete for attention with the very vivid image of the floor of the NYSE. Nasdaq’s electronic market had no trading floor and therefore financial news reporting always used the NYSE as the backdrop for its coverage. The solution would be a large-screen public display of real-time financial market data that would create a virtual look into the markets activity and promote investing to the public.

The idea was that the data would have a visual identity. We would be delivering data under the Nasdaq brand. We set out working on defining the content that would be displayed and designing the graphics. Our perspective for the graphics was driven by the idea that simple data visualizations were best. We would use blues and blacks as backgrounds along with greens and reds and other accent colors. Large numerical displays conveying value along with arrows and graphs were the primary visual elements. We devised a stock ticker using logos. This “logo ticker” as it was called, was a prominent and popular feature of the display. Most actives, leading advancers and decliners, and various stock indices and industry sectors were also features.

Over time this display would come to be called Nasdaq MarketSite, and the momentum around creating this data wall led to the eventual creation of a major facility for Nasdaq in Times Square which included the data wall as a television studio at ground level as well as a cylindrical video wall on the exterior of the building facade facing Times Square. The MarketSite is today used by Nasdaq to represent the market and is often seen in news media as a backdrop for financial reporting and is used extensively for IPO events.

In parallel to the development of the MarketSite, the internet was beginning to take hold and Nasdaq decided they would create their first website. Dial up connections were the norm. Page weights were typically limited to 10kb each, and most web sites were made up of primitive text based pages.  Based on their experiences and excitement for MarketSite, a smart decision was made by Nasdaq to not simply put up a brochure on the internet. They committed to creating a site which provided real time (10 minute delayed) stock quotes and other data . Users would be able to look up and enter a stocks symbol and get back actionable information. launched in 1996 as one of the first websites to offer a series of real time investing tools. The website’s traffic quickly grew to 8 million page views a day.

The design focus from day one was on defining the right content for the site as well as ease of access and speed. Interestingly, the decision to feature stock quotes, market indices, and most active stocks, holds true today and can still be found on’s home page as main features. Following, a series of ambitious web initiatives were designed and launched for Nasdaq.

The Nasdaq Identity – Continued

The market data graphics used in the delivery of real-time data on-screen also became a large feature of the overall identity as branded graphics on pieces of communication. Sales literature targeting potential companies, retention initiatives, broker-dealer communications, and literature for the individual investor all embodied the idea of access to market data with these concrete visualizations.


The Nasdaq you see today was years in the making. By creating a new visual identity along with designing real-time data to be delivered to the public through branded web sites and custom displays, we helped Nasdaq make a vital connection with the investing public and its many constituents at a critical time in its growth. These efforts, along with the growth of individual investing, served Nasdaq well. Nasdaq helped empower investors and established a reputation as the bolder, more in tune marketplace.

The Nasdaq Stock Market's Decade of Innovation
The Nasdaq Stock Market's Decade of Innovation
The Nasdaq Stock Market's Decade of Innovation
The Nasdaq Stock Market's Decade of Innovation
The Nasdaq Stock Market's Decade of Innovation