After the worst of the pandemic had passed, fashion emerged as something out of a 70s glossy magazine - drenched in intense, eye-searing colours and wacky prints.
The last time we saw such an abandonment of everything subtle was the decades succeeding the 2nd World War. People bid adieu to buttoned-up shirts, structured silhouettes, and tan colours - and ran in the opposite direction to bell bottoms, fringes, and neon colours bright enough to warrant an epilepsy warning.
Design has always been the voice of society - from ‘We want to forget the war’ to ‘To hell with the pandemic’.
But this isn’t an article about design in fashion - we’ll leave that to the experts, lest we commit a faux pas. This one’s closer home, about how design can be the voice of a brand. So, what does Fi’s design want to tell you about the brand Fi?
Picture this - A group of designers in a fledgling firm, in a fledgling industry, trying to change people’s perception of banking through design.
Not the easiest task. Especially since, traditionally, ‘design for banking’ seemed like an oxymoron. So we decided to work backwards, and asked ourselves a simple question:
“What is our goal with Fi?”
Simply put, it was to build a banking app that helps managing money simpler for users.
“Money made simple.”
We took this principle as our yardstick for design and ran with it. But before running too far, we realised that there was something else that needed to be tackled first.
Money management seemed to be inherently intimidating to the user. This is probably why people don’t take important monetary decisions as early as they should. Or probably why you keep procrastinating on your taxes.
Regardless, we wanted to change this perception.
So, now we had a couple of other yardsticks
“Make money fun” and “Put the user first”.
We used these principles as cornerstones for every aspect of our design.
Colours are the easiest way to influence a consumer’s impression of a brand, or its products.
There’s red in McDonald’s and KFC because it is the most appetising colour in the spectrum.
The ‘Starbucks blue-green’ is supposed to help relax you, and subsequently your wallet.
But when the brief for colours is ‘make it fun’ - it’s easy to go overboard. If you’ve coloured your hair a shade too bright you’d know. So we reigned it in. We wanted a palette that was cool and fun without being loud and noisy. Nothing too overpowering.
A family of cool-toned pastels and a larger range of support colours fit the bill perfectly.
Inspiration can strike from anywhere. For us, it took the form of Jean Jullien’s hilarious and distinctive black line illustration.
His instantly recognisable signature style and observational take on modern life have made him one of the most sought-after image-makers in the world. The biggest tenets of his work are that it’s well-observed, funny, and often tells a story. We took a feather from his hat and started moulding our design around these as aspects of his illustrations.
Each illustration we made would be a small piece of art telling a story.
Need an illustration to depict security? We ditched the traditional lock and key sign and drew out the omnipresent ‘Rakshasa Mask’. Need to convey that you’re out of business hours without upsetting the user? Show a cat playing with the power cord.
Our illustrations are an artistic expression of our thoughts and ideas - making keen observations to depict slices of life - through black strokes, a sprinkle of pastels and loads of fun.
Ever had an emoji absolutely nail what you’re feeling? Like when you had a bad day and felt annoyed, tired and hysterical at the same time.
🥲 This emoji does it for us.
Emojis often have the ability to express emotions that are too saturated to be put into words. They help reveal things that we take for granted while speaking face to face - like eye contact, body language, comfort, or rhythm.
Plus, you get a much larger platter of emotions to express with emojis, since they are often used contextually. For instance - 🥲 is also used when awkwardly accepting a compliment.
This is exactly why we’re an emoji-loving brand.
What emoji’s do for a finance app like Fi, is give it character - make it flesh and bones, instead of, well, just algorithms and data. It bolsters the sense of talking face-to-face with someone who wants to help you with your finances.
They help make the app lighthearted, approachable, and most importantly, a little bit human.
Right from Fi's logo to all the illustrations, everything was made with the intention to neatly collate fragmented experiences that the user has when it comes to money management. A minimalist design embodies this cut-the-BS spirit.
It allows the user to focus their attention on the core pieces of the interface while allowing their user journey to be intuitive and purposeful. Another advantage of dialling down the design is improved user efficiency. Take the home screen for instance.
Spends, savings, investments, your activity - you see everything you want to see in a single glance
One of the biggest USPs of the brand Fi has been that it rewards you for good money habits. The rewards give you dopamine hits that wire your brain into forming long-term good money habits. We needed a way to purvey this dopamine hit through design.
Something that emulates the feeling of peeling the plastic off of a new phone or tearing open a gift wrapper.
And so it began - brainstorming to come up with the best way to deliver rewards. Some scribbling around the odd paper waiting for inspiration to strike
After all these ideas and many more, the pandemic helped us narrow it down to one idea. During the initial lockdowns, people started adopting plants more than ever.
This was our fun way of introducing some money plants into the users’ life. It also had the inherent delight factor of seeing something grow and bloom.
Pretty neat, huh?
Fi is no longer a fledgling firm in a fledgling industry. Our vision for the future is bigger, the areas we want to expand in are wider, and our pace is faster. But, our core principles of making money simple, fun, and putting users first - remain the same.
And therefore our design philosophy will remain the same as well. But the goal is to get better, make the design even more refined, improve user experience across the platform, and have fun while doing it.
Because every time you chuckle at an illustration on the app - there’s a bunch of folks at Fi chuckling while designing it.
Late nights and coffee notwithstanding.