Rethinking borrowing.

Design from insight to product vision. 

Digital Product Design / UX / UI
My role: Design Lead
Agency: TH_NK 

Concept / User Experience / Innovation
My Role: Project Lead

The Challenge:

The Outcome:

3.2 million adults in the UK face excessive interest charges or problem debt as a result of credit. How can we help people to take control of their spending and how they use and repay money? How can we change peoples relationship with borrowing for the better?

A brand and product vision for a credit and financial management platform, empowing people to take control of their finances and make the most of their money. 

Building a brand for real life...

Everything you need.
Nothing you don't.

Everything you need.
Nothing you don't.

Research Image_1


The process started with explorative research to understand how people manage their money on a day-to-day basis. We used rapid prototyping as a research method and created early-stage mockups to help us test and verify user needs.

This uncovered various common behaviours and opportunities around credit and money management. A recurrent topic was the notion of control. We found that people want control shared between them and their provider. They wanted flexibility, but also wanted help and support to avoid getting into financial difficulty. Striking this balance was a key challenge in product development.

Shaping the brand

By the end of the research phase we had a broad picture of the types of proposition that were received positively by the audience, and lots of starting points for product features. Alongside this, we defined a set of brand promises that would be used to guide our process.

Brand Promise

Be responsible:
Everything we do is considered. We’ll help you avoid financial difficulty and build and earn your trust.
Be truly supportive:
We’re here to help every step of the way. We’ll help with relevant and timely information, nudges, hints and tips. We’ll even let you know if it looks like you’ll miss payments and help you make the right decisions to set things in order.
Put you in control:
We give people confidence by giving them genuine control of their borrowing.  With control you’re better-able to plan for the future and we can provide a service that truly fits your needs.
Be plain speaking:
What you see is what you get. We’ll clearly explain how we come to our decisions and we’ll show you everything you need to know in a concise, easy-to-understand way.

We then went on to explore how to represent this visually through imagery, typography, colour and UI. These brand concepts were used to gather client and user input. 

04 Honest and Transparent
15 Empowering
12 Simplicity Copy
03 Honest and Transparent
19 Empowering
12 Simplicity

Simplifying compexity

During the research it became clear that many people find financial information difficult to understand, and harder still to see the true value and significance behind the numbers.  We wanted to show information by using simple and relatable forms. This became the basis for the visual language of the brand. 

The art-direction signifies a new way of thinking, without alienating the audience. Communicating a feeling of simplicity without dumbing down. Palettes and 3D objects help define a tone of voice that’s optimistic and forward looking.

We used quantitative testing to validate and refine the brand concept before going on to the next phase.

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...and then designing the product. 

Everything you need.
Nothing you don't.

Everything you need.
Nothing you don't.


Defining key features

The core functions of the platform were borrowing, repayment, controls and guidance. Around these areas we came up with feature ideas that would deliver on the promise of the brand.  

We developed behaviourally-informed product features using opportunities provided by Open Banking tech; linking spending patterns to insights. 


Behavioural Design

Creating the right environment for people to make positive decisions was an important challenge. This led us to carefully the consider the implications of how we presented choices and information. 

We took inspiration from the Financial Capability Lab and their research into money management. 

Linking actions to goals

Zooming in on the specific moments of decision making, we applied small nudges strategically. Features such as spending controls were suggested at key points in user flows – enabling people to easily take actions to achieve their goals. 

Flexibility vs Control

User defined unlocking provided varying levels of friction. We introduced the idea of 'partnering up' with a trusted friend to unlock spending. Something that polarised opinion among users. 

UI System

The brand direction was developed as a design system for iOS. This was built as a library of styles and components, using familiar patterns for an intuitive user experience. A shared styleguide allowed us to maintain a single source of truth while collaborating and iterating designs based on feedback.  


Support and Guidance

To create a supportive experience we used conversational UI as means to deliver some of the core functions. This also provided a means to integrate with other channels outside of the app such as smart speakers.
Ask Penny – Visual Indentity 1 Copy 3b
Ask Penny – Visual Indentity 1 Copy 2

Planning ahead

For those with flexible incomes, managing budgets and planning ahead was a current pain-point. We designed features to help with predictive budgeting and forecasting.  
Ask Penny – Visual Indentity 0

The outcome

The outcome was a brand and product vision to bring the platform to market. After successfully securing funding, the service is now in it's next phase of development.