Starling Bank
A disrupter brand that challenges the status quo of traditional banking. As the fifth mobile native bank launching into the UK market, Starling needs a distinctive brand identity that differentiates from its competitors.
Why hire a mobile banking app?
We applied the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework to interview Starling’s key stakeholders. The process began with a series of simple ‘Why’ questions to unpack and align business goals and brand visions
Framing our answers to the ‘Why’ questions into Job Stories reveals the causality, anxiety and motivations of Starling’s customer.
We then collected and prioritised the most relevant Job Stories that fit into the problem space Starling is targeting.
Paying attention to the desired outcomes of each statement, we discovered it is the emotional benefits of feeling calm and in control that customers ultimately crave through being using mobile banking services. This informed our design decisions for brand personality and tone of voice.
What if Starling is a person?
If customers ultimately need to feel calm and in control, what kind of person would they enjoy interacting with whom would provide them such emotional benefits?
We ran an intensive one week Google Design Sprint workshop to collaboratively ideate and validate what personality and tone of voice should Starling own.
Lightning Demos
We started with Crazy 8s to quickly generate variations of our best ideas then summarised the best idea into a detailed Solution Sketch.
Heatmap Voting
The best ideas were voted for and refined in the Sketching and Ideate exercise.
Sketch & Ideate
The best ideas were voted for and refined in the Sketching and Ideate exercise.
The team sketched out three brand personalities that might work for Starling:
Active, Empathetic and Straight.

In order to align the team’s brand vision, we prototyped all three personalities as app experiences and tested them to validate our assumptions.
Energetic and engaging personality who actively seeks out opportunities to support the customer
Caring and understanding personality who passively offer advice only when it truly matters
Goal driven, efficient and no-nonsense. This personality focuses on getting the job done
Prototyping the personalities
An overly active tone of voice would be obtrusive to the customer, however being merely pragmatic would render the brand souless. Thus we attempted to strike a fine balance between all three personalities.
Starling as a friendly helper?
Could Starling be empathetic as well as friendly and playful? It appeared that an overly friendly tone of voice might trigger a sense of mistrust and lack of authority.
Starling as a relationship?
What if Starling simply represents the relationship between the customer and the brand instead of its own ego? Removing the ego from the brand identity might offer customer a truly unobtrusive experience.
Informed by customers' emotional and functional needs with matching brand identities, we continued to refine our approach and moved on to the design phase of the project.