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My Role

Art Direction, Illustration & Animation

Client

Empower Finance 

Empowering people to crush their financial goals

Empowering people to crush their financial goals

Managing personal finances could be a tough task to deal with. Empower is reimagining the modern-day banking to help young professionals earn more and crush their financial goals. 

Back in March 2019, Victor, their Product designer, reached out to me to develop a style and create illustrations for the relaunch of their mobile app and website.

The main goals were to position Empower as an innovative but reliable online banking service and to tell stories that are empowering, relatable, and fun.

As there wasn’t a specific art direction to follow, I was excited to dive into the exploration and experiment.

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First things first

Setting the goals and collecting inspiration

When illustrating for digital products and especially mobile apps, it’s important to keep in mind that the compositions and the style shouldn’t be too distracting. The focus needs to stay on the content and on the call to action. That’s why we aimed for a style that’s emotional but not overwhelmingly detailed.

To kick off the style exploration, I collected three different mood boards. The first one was more on the cheeky side, infused with funny characters and playfulness. The second introduced human characters as a way to get closer to the user and make the visuals more relatable. The third mood board was the most professional one, with fewer details, bold shapes, and colors.

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Illustrating the world of Empower

Illustrating the world of Empower

Defining the style

The next step was to develop the directions further and come up with the storytelling and characters. Here’s how I translated each of the mood boards into the first sketches.

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Cheeky

Pros: Builds an emotional relationship with the product and makes it fun to use.

Cons: Could be too playful for some users.

Balanced

Pros: Realistic human characters make the illustrations more relatable.

Cons: Less flexible when it comes to using quirky metaphors.

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Minimalist

Pros: Simple shapes combined custom with hand made textures. This style looks professional without being too sterile.

Cons: Less emotional than the other 2 styles.

While we wanted to keep things simple, The Minimalist direction was too emotionless so we left it behind. The other two directions both had potential. The Cheeky, allowed for playing with interesting concepts - like turning a debit card into a character that collects rewards, and the Balanced was more relatable as it showed realistic human figures. We ended up merging them in one to get the best of both worlds.

Next on the list was to refine the technical details of the illustration style. Here are some snapshots from the exploration and the final style samples.

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Radostina is a great communicator paired with a great process. There's always visibility into her brain and she explains her thought process in a way that every stakeholder can feel involved and understands what's going on.

Radostina is a great communicator paired with a great process. There's always visibility into her brain and she explains her thought process in a way that every stakeholder can feel involved and understands what's going on.

Radostina is a great communicator paired with a great process. There's always visibility into her brain and she explains her thought process in a way that every stakeholder can feel involved and understands what's going on.

— Victor Erixon, Lead Product Designer

Bringing the stories to life

Bringing the stories to life

Bringing the stories to life

Creating the illustrations

With the first style samples in hand, I was ready to tackle the rest of the illustrations we needed.

When the style is simple, the storytelling really stands out and has a greater impact on the user experience. Most people are not huge fans of banking and budgeting and we wanted to change that. Using quirky metaphors and unusual characters helped us made the app easy to use and fun to explore. 

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Subtle animations brought the illustrations to life and made the app interesting to explore and fun to use. Here are some of the illustrations and animations I created for Empower’s app and website.

Subtle animations brought the illustrations to life and made the app interesting to explore and fun to use. Here are some of the illustrations and animations I created for Empower’s app and website.

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Color variations

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Banking is for everyone

I've been working with many fintech companies lately and it's fascinating how fast things move in the field. This makes banking, saving, investing, and budgeting less intimidating for all of us who are not so good at managing money.

What I find even more exciting when it comes to financing technology companies is that there is a lot of space to improve the user experience with illustrations and powerful storytelling. It's great that more and more products are here to help us enjoy handling our money and I’m happy that I get the chance to be part of it.

Thank you Empower for the opportunity.

Not Another Bland FAQ 

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Don’t be a stranger

Let’s chat on illustration process, the wisdom of animated movies or the pros and cons of social media.

Have a project in mind?  

If you're looking to join forces with an illustrator, I'd be happy to hear more about your goals.

© Joy Pepper 2020