Creating a digital-first lean brand for an innovative startup business

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Discover why lean brand is a powerful methodology used by digital product design consultancies – and how Elsewhen put it into action for financial services startup Founders Bank.

You may have heard of “lean brand” – but what exactly is this methodology, and why is it so important for your digital-first organisation?

Taking an iterative approach to improving customer experience

The concept of lean brand emerged from the startup business world – and has now been embraced by digital product designers, and organisations of all sizes. Successful startups understand that their brand is in many ways the most important aspect of the business. Brand in this sense means more than just a logo and corporate colour – it defines the entire relationship a business has with its customers and the experience it provides.

Lean brand development is about creating successful, innovative and disruptive brand relationships with customers.

It focuses on experimentation, iteration, and elimination of wasted effort. It offers a scalable framework, with ongoing cycles of improvement based on customer testing and validation of value hypotheses.

Learning to build better customer relationships

Lean brand uses a “build-measure-learn” loop where the design team defines what it needs to learn, determines how to measure it, and runs a simple experiment to do so.

Overall, lean brand development helps teams make better, faster digital product design decisions. By learning from the principles of lean manufacturing and agile development, it helps create better products, building stronger customer relationships and experiences around emotional value – while minimising the risk of failing to meet customer needs.

Lean product design enables organisations to bring their digital products to market faster, validating it with customers and incorporating their feedback on an ongoing basis. Rather than relying on preliminary research alone, teams can build simple design and user research into the agile development process to enable continuous improvement.

Putting lean brand into action

Let’s consider an example of how Elsewhen has recently applied lean brand for our client Founders Bank.

Founders Bank aims to be the go-to bank for founders and their startup businesses. This new challenger bank is led by an entrepreneurial team of seasoned banking executives. Many new companies operating in perceived higher-risk areas, such as fintech and cryptocurrencies, find it hard to get an account with a traditional bank. Founders Bank aims to meet this demand – as a modern digital-first financial partner to tech entrepreneurs.

Founders Bank engaged digital product design consultancy Elsewhen to create a brand suitable for their digital-first business – and implement this across the design of their banking platform and products.

Building a lean brand design system based on customer feedback

Elsewhen ran interactive workshops to form an agreed creative brief for the project – and build a shared understanding of creative references provided by the bank team. Together we developed a set of corporate values to form the foundation of the brand personality and positioning.

Next, we researched the expectations and needs of target customers, and mapped potential customer journeys during interactions with the bank. We used these insights to design platform concept screens for online and mobile app-based banking – providing several different creative executions of how Founders Bank could deliver their vision.

Elsewhen ran feedback sessions to gather opinions from the bank team and a selection of target customers. We then narrowed down to three preferred routes, one of which was chosen as a clear winner by the bank team.

Based on the chosen route, our team established a design system with rules for the creative direction of the Founders Bank brand and digital platform – with a plan for how to roll it out further to all UI, touchpoints and collateral. The work equipped Founders Bank with a brand and platform design that perfectly reflects its positioning as a digital business innovator.

Explore our case study to learn more

Find out more about how Elsewhen helped Founders Bank apply lean brand thinking in its digital-first business.


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