When I began my career as a designer more than ten years ago, I never thought I would end up working in the world of financial services – and it wasn’t an industry I was particularly attracted to either. For me, it always seemed colourless. And when you’re a visual creative, colour means a lot.
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That all changed when I joined baraka. I began to see that I had a huge opportunity here, to bring colour to finance – or, more specifically, fintech. It helped that this was a brand that, like many of the consumer brands I had worked with before, also focused primarily on Millennials and Gen Z. My role was to get them as engaged and excited about an investment app, as they would be about seeing their favourite band in concert or getting their hands on a pair of limited-edition Air Jordans.
Now, with baraka this wasn’t just a matter of building a brand identity and applying it to your standard communication channels. The company’s ethos is built around creating a content-first platform that educates, empowers and enables young Middle East investors.
The biggest challenge? Capturing our target audience’s attention in the “scroll-through” era we live in. Millennials have an average attention span of 12 seconds, and with Gen Z, it’s only eight seconds. It can be quite an achievement to create content that makes people stop mid-scroll to look and digest our content.
The next challenge? Creating fresh, new and compelling content daily, that works in both Arabic and English. In order to do this, it’s important to really – and I mean really – understand the product and get into customers’ minds to think like them. I had to learn a lot, and quickly, in order to convey our messages properly. It was a challenge for someone who has never worked in the fintech or finance space – but here’s where it’s a huge advantage to personify your target audience. As a millennial from the Middle East, with a team that also fits our core demographic, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded with inspiration and sanity checks – if it’s something that would resonate with me, my friends and my colleagues, it’s good to go.
There are six points I keep in mind and practice on a daily basis in order to create well-planned, relevant and engaging content for each project:
Keep your tone and complexity balanced by simplifying complicated messages for beginner investors, while ensuring they are not too basic for experienced investors.
Convey that the brand is credible in order to build trust and a comfort level with customers. There’s a fine line between making a product and company seem approachable, fun and easy, without being cheesy (because that’s when your audience stops taking the product seriously).
Experiment with different types of design mediums to find what works and what doesn’t work for your audience (usually, you will find it’s a mix of animation, static, video and more depending on the platform and the message).
Stay up-to-date on design tactics and trending topics so your narrative and your vibe stay relevant and refreshing.
Design and talk the same language as your audience. For us, incorporating meme culture into visual strategies and creatives has been a game-changer.
And as always, stay on brand and maintain visual identity because that’s how you build a following (and eventually a community).
My biggest takeaway though has been to enjoy it. It sounds simple, but creativity isn’t something you can switch on and off, and having a team (especially one that’s more like family) that energises and inspires you can make all the difference. At the end of the day, it’s all about teamwork, great conversation, and continuously educating yourself in order to keep learning and growing.