A special brand-edition of ‘making dough’

When we first started building Donut, approximately 1 year ago, we remember looking around at the myriad of investment products, crypto startups and mobile banks making waves in the scene.

Nearly all products and brands looked exactly the same, arguably falling into one of 3 categories: blue & boring, purple & isometric (looking at you crypto startups) or lacking personality (with notable exceptions: Klarna,Cash, Point & Wavy R.I.P).

This is understandable: such design trends have been shown to build trust with users and have led to many great products. However, we think it’s time to be different.

We decided to build a brand that:

1️⃣ Doesn’t feel like a traditional FinTech.

2️⃣ Would resonate with those who don’t normally engage with finance apps.

3️⃣ Has a strong personality whilst also building trust with our users.

One of our central beliefs at Donut is that personal finance, and more importantly, investing, should be effortless and also fun. We want to build a product that makes our users smile, not wince.

So, with a little bit of pocket money and our partner ToyFight, a top-notch branding agency from sunny Manchester, we jumped straight in.

Wes Anderson

To start we ideated around what Donut should stand for, solidified our mission and collected inspiration from non-fintech brands. It was during these explorations, focusing on the pain points in investing in digital assets today, that our Lead Product Designer, Liam, came up with the phrase So easy a child could do it.

This phrase came to underpin a lot of the creative work that followed. It was at that point that Leigh, co-founder of ToyFight, started thinking about Play-Doh. Like many of you, I loved nothing more than making multi-colored creatures out of Play-Doh — and subsequently smushing it into the carpet (sorry Mum). This got us super excited. I had to refrain from ordering a load of Play-Doh for the office.

A key problem in crypto investing is the familiarity of the assets and concepts behind them. Could we use the familiarity of childhood and tactility of objects such as Play-Doh to enable users to feel confident in starting to invest small amounts on a regular basis? Would this invite a user to enter a new world of digital assets they had previously been curious, yet reluctant to explore?

We started collecting more inspiration such as clips from Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs…

Our new look

Meanwhile we knew we had to close in on final logo and type style. Our goal was always to maintain a friendly brand. This idea also permeates through to our thoughts around our product and messaging. We literally want to feel like that close friend lending a helping hand. Everything we do is with the aim of being as inviting and non-intimidatory as is possible.

We started the logo creation process with some basic inputs:

  • Friendly and warm
  • Can stand the test of time (i.e. Not following the “trends”)
  • Can work as a full lockup or with the mark in isolation
  • Donut metaphor (something close to our heart)

We went through a bunch of ideas around the logo, some carrying “the donut” element through as a central theme, others using the metaphor of sprinkles, glazing and other confectionary themes. It was a super fun process to go through.

The new logo & lockup

To boil the entire process into a few short sentences would be unfair of me. There was a lot of ideation and synthesis involved before there was an unanimous agreement upon the final form. The final version ticked the boxes we had set for it, while maintaining a little nod to the donut shape in our original logo.

It just felt right.

Getting to grips with fonts

Recoleta (Alt)

When we were selecting typefaces, we could consistently feel ourselves gravitating more towards to the serif faces for usage in headings in Marketing content. We started narrowing down our search and landed with two options: F37 Bobby & Recoleta. What really struck us with these options was the warmth, friendliness and some of the interesting quirks they both displayed (all features we also wanted to transmit with our brand).

We ended up settling on Recoleta (we used the Medium weight), a relatively new serif typeface published by Latinotype. In the end, the extra quirks, organic elements and angles of this typeface just made us smile.

Matter

On the other side, we wanted a more structured, geometric and modern typeface for more broad usage. This was the typeface that would be used everywhere. It had to be something that wasn’t too trendy but was more focused on solving all of the broad problems a good typeface should. Matterfit the bill in this specific case. It’s a Grotesk typeface with a subtle, warm touch.

Given the fact Donut is a financial product, numbers are obviously a priority. The inclusion of a tabular lining with Matter made it even more fitting to our specific needs with the brand and product.

Matter’s tabular lining meant it was great for use in our product

Plasticine stop motion animation

Unfortunately, Play-Doh proved to be a little tricky to animate with, so we turned to its more versatile cousin — plasticine. At this point we were introduced to the extraordinary talents of animation studio, Young, masters in all things stop motion, animation and plasticine.

Young set to work on the painstaking process of crafting our characters, the scenery made out of foam & paper and taking thousands of individual photos to create the stop motion animations.

It all started with Geth from Young sketching out some concepts…

Once we had worked out what each animation should convey, Young got to work translating these into 2D vector mockups before assembling a killer team to painstakingly craft each element by hand.

From there, Young took on the mammoth task of using stop motion animation to bring these scenes to life. This involved taking over 5000 individual photos over a 2 week period. A lot of tea was consumed in the process.

The new website is live!

The best place to check out the new brand in action (including these sweet animations) is over on our shiny new website donut.io. We would love to know what you think so feel free to contact us at hello@donut.io or tweet us here.

Massive shout out to our Mancunion partners ToyFight & Young and the whole Donut team for getting us here!

👀

We will soon be launching our Beta App in the US very soon. If you would like to be one of the first 100 users to use the app, before it hits the app store, you can register to join The Donut 100. Otherwise, hold tight for a ton of updates and announcements over the next few months…

ICYMI: Donut is launching in the US 🇺🇸

This was written by our CPO Dan with help from our Lead Product Designer Liam.