Kyle Thacker

Product Design

Brand Direction. Crafting a financial tech brand.

Brand Team Lead & Art Director
Bench

I joined Bench in the beginning of 2014 to work on their brand and product. I worked with Adam Saint, Bench’s design co-founder, on building out a design team and culture that supported a great in-house team of designers, photographers, and writers.

I worked on the overall brand direction across our ads, marketing website, sign up funnel, and into our apps. I led the brand team and managed external contractors for photography and illustration.

Below are vignettes of the Bench brand and learnings from it.

Chapter 1

Strong values

It was important for the team to align on what design actually means at Bench. I spent another of sessions with the design team to craft a set of principles that would be the compass to direct our decisions.

The principles act as both a design team tool, but also to set a standard for how we craft things for the entire company. From sales to business partnerships, it was important to have a representation of why and how we make decisions.

Chapter 2

A product of people

The biggest differentiator between Bench and other bookeeping services is that we provide clients with a team of in-house people to do their books for them. That real person to person connection has been a big component of our brand and product.

We use our own employees on our website, in our ads, and through our product to build that relationship between the people running a business and the bookkeepers helping them.

Chapter 3

The feelings that come
with bookkeeping.

Navigating the challenges of starting a small business is an overwhelming feeling for entrepreneurs. There’s a constant layer of stress that’s always hovering around you. The inexperience of not knowing what to do, or the lack of hours in a day, is exhausting.

For these feelings, and more, Bench worked on crafting a small business resource that would empathize with those feelings and do our best to alleviate them.

We released the Syllabus, a blog that contained articles and guides that helped entrepreneurs not just with their bookkeeping, but with topics like business management and taxes that are often difficult to understand or needlessly complicated.

We want running a small business to be approachable for anyone. I worked with James Olstein, an illustrator, on producing a set of illustrations that would help emphasize with entrepreneurs the feelings that they were having alongside these topics.

With thoughtful writing and strong visuals, we’ve produced content that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs with answering their small business problems.

We want to continue to be a resource for entrepreneurs whether they’re looking for a bookkeeping service, too early, or are already a client. Being a part of their entrepreneurial journey establishes Bench as a trustworthy financial brand.

Chapter 4

Brand & Product

From the moment someone discovers your company, that is your brand. Your ads, your onboarding, your product, and even the eventual offboarding, are all pieces of what makes up your brand.

The product and the brand are deeply intertwined at Bench, as there should never be an inconsistency between the vision we sell in marketing, and the expectations of our product experience.

From the moment someone interacts with Bench, that begins the experience in what culminates as the Bench brand. The way we talk on our Facebook page to the way we communicate with clients in our product, those are all experiences that a person does not differeniate between a brand and a product, it is the whole of Bench. One bad experience, across any medium, detracts from the brand, from the product, and from the company.

By setting a standard for Bench in both our external work and our internal culture, we’ve built a brand that challenges that way we create things. When every person, and every touchpoint, upholds to pushing the standards of their part of the brand forward, it continually evolves what we can do. While aspirational, it is the requirement for a team to do amazing work.

Chapter 5

Developing a product
tone and feeling.

As I mentioned above, the product is an element of the brand. This is represented in many ways, from the colors and visuals to the tone and feeling that a product represents.

The Bench brand is about simplifying bookkeeping, taking away the stress of an overwhelming task, and actually making it a positive experience. This is apparent in our product in the way that we organize our information architecture, in the features we choose to build, and in the way, we communicate those features to our clients.

Our messaging system was designed to make our bookkeeping team feel more accessible and the interface was crafted to be familiar and easy to use.

Learn more about the messaging system

I worked on a concept around making financial insights more approachable by simplifying how we’re representing complicated financial reports. This is a mindset that is at the foundation for how Bench designs products and its brand.

Learn more about financial insights

Chapter 6

Going mobile

One of the most exciting things recently about Bench is our extension into mobile. We recently launched our mobile app for iPhone.

Mobile is an exciting extension of the Brand, opening up more opportunities to explore the relationship between Bench and a client in the real world. No longer are people stuck behind a desk, they’re finally free to work and be anywhere they want.

Learn more about mobile

Chapter 7

The entreprenurial
story.

Running a business is challenging. You’re often alone in the struggles of figuring out what to do. Our talented videographer shot an interview with Good Fucking Design Advice on their experience running a business and how Bench has helped them.

Real people, real stories of struggle and success are what makes entrepreneurship exciting and stressful. The Bench brand wants to highlight these stories to help people realize they’re not alone in their journey and Bench is there to help them out.

Along with the video, we produced a testimonial and a set of ads shared across facebook and social media.

Read GFDA's story

The end.

Bench solves a real problem. Every day it is helping entrepreneurs build successful and sustainable businesses. Hearing about the positive experiences that clients have had working with Bench is what fuels the desire to build a better brand, product, and company.

What will separate Bench from others is the desire to craft beautiful experiences across every touchpoint, and to support a culture that inspires its employees to push the standard of quality ever higher.

Kendra Murphy, Taby Cheng, Cameron McCool, Bryce Warnes, Jonathan Johnson, Josh Conley, Rachel Ng.