Spotting a clear gap in a market

The market for mortgages and loans in the United Kingdom is a competitive one with Banks and Building Societies (the equivalent of US ‘Mutuals’) offering up many different financing options. Yet the market itself is inherently risk-averse and not known for its adventurous thinking.

We were approached by a established lender who had seen a space in the market, and genuinely wanted to try something different.

The gap they had spotted

In their research, the client team had realised that an increasing amount of  ‘inter-generational giving’ was taking place. So grandparents lend money for deposits on first flats, parents share the load of first mortgages or act as the guarantor. Some family members are simply lending chunks of money to each other (yet without any paperwork if things go awry). Up until now this has happened in an ad-hoc way: fine when everyone is still talking over the dinner table, but messy when the ‘repayments’ are overdue and accusations start to fly.

The brand idea

The brand idea is compelling simple: create a building society dedicated to families. And to make it as easy as possible to understand, call it The Family Building Society. Our task was to create a unique brand identity to match this innovative, yet simple observation.

The design solution

We explored multiple design solutions as we searched for the best ‘match’ for this idea. And we were quite close to choosing an elegant idea that would have worked perfectly well for the task at hand – yet we kept, as a group, returning to a more disruptive approach.

The thought was that, for the building society to appear as personal as possible, it could and should customise itself to whoever was using its service – so when writing to the Jones family about their account, the logo would say ‘The Jones Family Building Society’, and so on. After testing the idea on certain key elements (offer letters, direct mail, etc) it became clear that this idea could actually be delivered. Simply by amending the ‘field’ in the letterhead file, we could overprint customers’ names over the logo, for example.

Delivering the idea

After much debate, the personalised idea won through, and we set about developing a design system to make it work. This involved a very simple word-mark that could work on its own when used corporately, yet subtly change when personalised. We intentionally chose an unusual lead colour to make them stand out from their more conservative peers, developed bespoke typefaces to use in handwritten applications and began a communications style that gave the viewer, or reader, a ‘glimpse’ into what people are thinking.

By intentionally scrawling hand written ‘thoughts’ over images, we developed an advertising style that was unique, relatively easy to do, and unpicked sometimes complex family relationships in a witty and human way.



Strategic consultants: Lucian Camp, Ritchie MacDonald

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