Sector: FinTech, PropTech
Challenge: Design and develop a brand identity system that communicates the founders’ vision and tells a focused story through their website
My role: Workshop facilitation, user research, analytics, website design
Project time: 2 months
Thirdfort was an early stage startup with a product in market and fresh off their seed funding, when founders Jack and Olly approached me to help them establish a brand identity that was reflective of their mission to help law firms conduct identity validations and source of funds checks digitally.
This mission was only the beginning, and using rapid problem solving methodologies, we started to develop the brand into a professional, trustworthy entity…
To understand the current product touch points and market position, we plotted a customer journey map. Alongside the B2C homebuyer end user, we also plotted the B2B journey and competitor touch points.
This gave a clear visual of where the magic happens when using Thirdfort, areas to work on and where to focus when articulating the brand.
Aligning the personality of a brand is a pivotal moment. It can uncover differences of opinion and unrealistic aspirations, but it always converges into a more focused understanding and purpose.
Using the below archetypes, we discuss the synthesis and relationships between them, why they support one another and how they help define brand personality.
After some discussion, Jack and Olly decided on the following archetypes to represent the Thirdfort brand:
Creators (also called builders) are non-conforming by nature, they want to build a better world using the tools at their disposal.
Heroes are brave, selfless, stand up to the bad guy and defend the underdog.
As the brand began to gain clarity, a challenging aspect was what Thirdfort felt was most important to them.
This task got the guys ordering suggestive words in order of most to least important. Tough decisions had to be made when many things were felt to be as important as each other, but in doing this gave the brand a focus on what was most important.
Once we’d established how Thirdfort perceived themselves, we began an empathy exercise in understanding how they felt their customers saw them.
This really resonated with the guys as they started to look at their brand from the outside. Eventually we would validate this hypothesis through surveys and NPS further down the line, but for now it really showed the impact they’d already had. For example, ‘Likeable’ towards the bottom of how they seem themselves as it’s not necessarily part of the mission. However, it’s right at the top of how they felt customers saw them. We’d then work these perspectives into the branding.
To craft a tone of voice, we used the jobs to be done framework and mapped out personas for consumers and users of the Thirdfort product.
Breaking users’ wants and needs into a holistic portrait gave us a clear sense of what we should shout about and how we should position it. This was another eye-opening exercise as it encouraged empathy and reflecting through users’ eyes.
These points were mainly realised and understood through customer support interactions and sales conversations. Clients needs were obviously very different to end user needs, so we considered how language and tone could impact that.
We decided that a professional, security focused tone would serve all audiences and give a consistent image of a trusted product — which was very important for Thirdfort. This would be expressed through emotive language centred in facts and logic, keeping the product description simple, with much needed confidence to establish authority.
Defining Brand Values
Thirdfort, at the beginning of its journey, targeted law firms and the homebuyer market, but long-term, they were looking to penetrate estate agents, mortgage brokers and escrows.
Based on the long-term plans and the way the brand planned to evolve, we crafted an internal strap-line that captured Thirdfort’s why:
We aspire to innovate more trustworthy transactions.
This would permeate through everything Thirdfort did and achieved. The rest of the brand architecture, the mission statement, vision and values all served as pillars to enable this.
Based on the discovery phase and locking down the brand architecture, I began work on finding the direction of the visual identity. We had already discussed some direction about Thirdfort wanting to be seen as a forward thinking, innovative technology brand, taking inspiration from the likes of Tide, Stripe and Monzo.
I used stylescapes, mood boards made up of existing assets to suggest a visual flavour and help guide a direction, to gage Jack and Olly’s vision for how Thirdfort would present itself.
Think of these as personas for brands.
We evaluated the stylescapes together, discussing what worked and what didn’t. This established a clear direction for a visual identity that not only complimented Thirdfort’s mission, but thrust it into the forefront of the FinTech world.
The Thirdfort Brand
After a couple of feedback round and some further refinement to the tone of voice, visual patterns and motifs, we locked in the brand and visual identity.
Using a bold, trustworthy blue against an authoritative, but approachable typeface encapsulated all the work we’d done in building the brand.
With brand in hand and a need to ramp up the website to deal with enquiries, lead generation and raise the presence of the brand, we got to work specifying what was required.
With a site map sketched out, we began plotting the structure of the pages. As the primary job of the website was to generate B2B leads, we made the homepage a clear funnel, with a strong headline, progressively detailed information, social proof and obvious calls to action.
I developed the site in Webflow from my initial wireframes to create a bespoke, on-brand and unique site experience for users.
Webflow also enables content editors from Thirdfort to update copy, images and collections so they can maintain the site themselves.
Impact & Takeaways
Thirdfort were incredibly pleased with their new, refreshed brand identity and were able to use and evolve the assets and voice over the next few months. The website also became a great lead driver, with other FinTech companies contacting me to help them after seeing the site.
⭐️ The brand identity system was instrumental in Thirdfort raising a further £1m in investment only a year later
⭐️ The website has become the primary funnel for acquiring leads and has generated significant revenue and client relationships
⭐️ Several months after this project, we evolved the brand into a design system for consistency across product and website
⭐️ The website is used as a first-point resolution tool for B2B and B2C clients, drastically reducing calls
⭐️ We’ve tagged and analysed site behaviour to better understand Thirdfort’s users and optimise various areas of the business.
Check out the final site here — www.thirdfort.com
Next time, I’ll outline our process to design the Thirdfort product in-line with the new brand…