How financial brands are breaking down creative barriers
Financial brands have always struggled when it comes to creative change, as they’re constantly surrounded by legal and compliance parameters that allow little movability. Understandably, not many brands are willing to risk straying from the status quo.
But could this be changing?
As consumers, we’re beginning to develop new ways of spending money and managing our personal finances – and brands are beginning to adapt to these habits and expectations. Here, we explore the way banking brands are beginning to rethink the way they approach design and innovation.
How do we spend our money today?
We’re a nation of convenience – we want, need, and expect everything at a moment’s notice, and the way we spend our money has adapted to make this possible for us.
We have become a nation in debt, tenants to the products and services that we require to make our lives easier. We have also become a society of subscribers: phone contracts, mortgages, car finance, and even design packages – we’re willing to sign up for things that can be ours for a monthly fee.
Making finance feel friendly
This new way of managing of our finances has made us into financial advocates, and with the likes of online banking, monitoring our spending has never been easier.
Finance has become an attainable skill. With the likes of online advice sites such as Martin Lewis, consumers have more confidence in something that once may have seemed intimidating and complicated.
This has paved the way for financial brands to explore their branding and offerings. Syncing with this new societal confidence, we’re starting to see this industry challenge and break down the heritage. Some brands are bringing fresh ideas to the table, allowing them to stand out and really engage consumers.
Anna: The app that makes banking fun
A new brand on the scene is Anna, a business account for start ups and small businesses specifically focused at the creative industries.
Anna’s ethos? To be the “world’s first design led bank.”
From colour palettes to tone of voice, Anna really challenges the original stiff marketing associated with banking brands by injecting a bit of playfulness.
The interface comprises of fun, sketch-like illustrations that give the brand character and personality, even if they are a bit random in places. The quirkiness of its terminology (like “Invoices, Schminovoices”) is odd but confident, allowing the user to really enjoy their banking experience as opposed to it just being a functional platform.
The technology hasn’t been left to chance either, but given a different priority compared to the traditional order of doing things – Anna is one of the first brands to design first and develop the technology second.
The app prides itself on not just creating ‘window graphics’ and ‘wallpapers’ that have no function when applied after the tech is built, but rather interweaving the design and its purpose within the technology.
The hand drawn nature of the brand also mirrors what’s been going on in social media over the past few years, connoting a raw, playful, and emotive tone that financial brands historically wouldn’t go near.
It makes the user connect with the interface by rejecting the typical slick, highly perfected illustrations and embracing a raw, almost childlike theme, suggesting that, when it comes to managing your finances, ‘anyone can do it.’ Automatically this brings a sense of relatability, the main aim of any brand.
The simple colour palette really makes it stand out against the traditional blue tones, offsetting the coral shade with silver and allowing the illustration to lead. We also see this interwoven relationship between design and technology with a quirky upcoming feature – a meowing sound in the app each time you get a payment. Quite a unique example of how design is creating disruption in the financial sector!
Starling Bank: Changing our perspective – literally
As creatives, one of the first things we’re taught is to constantly challenge barriers – it’s easy to pull it back, but you have to go big first. This is exactly what newly launched bank Starling has started with its new vertical bank card.
The orientation however isn’t just about aesthetics – the brand has connected the technology to the usability of the product, basing the design directly on how we use our bank cards.
“Our lives are largely lived in portrait now, even down to how we use our phones.”
- Mark Day, Starling Bank’s Art Director
Along with the quirky new angle, it’s where the details are printed that makes this card clever. Usually sitting at the top, Starling has moved them to the back to help reduce fraud, making the solution a synergy of security and great ergonomic design.
If the orientation and security features aren’t enough, the card is created in a dayglo shade of teal (inspired from the starling bird’s tail feather) to really make the brand stand out from other financial providers.
This specific change is a daring but popular adaptation, similar to the way Monzo has adopted dayglo red or Spotify’s instantly recognisable dayglo green and print green pallet, which reflects the dominance of the digital world.
All these disruptive changes make it an exciting time to be a customer and a designer, showing great evolution of the financial industry, directly influenced by societal changes in technology and consumer confidence. This is something that will really push that technology and design relationship in the future, and has opened up the market to new and wonderful solutions!