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How our designers landed on space aliens for the new Growth Lending brand

Our in-house team reveal the secrets of their creative process – and how the eye-catching concept came about

Maddie Dumpleton
23 June 2021

Growth Lending is fortunate to benefit from the talents of three in-house designers – Eli H. Han (above, centre), Alex Jenkins (left) and Francesca Rowe. Over the past few months, they have worked to make our new brand and website as vibrant and individual as the businesses we invest in. Here, they describe the creative process in their own words.

What inspired the rebranding from a style perspective?

Eli:
The previous brand was created quickly and was never intended to be our long-term look. One of the main reasons that the Growth Lending team felt the rebranding was necessary was because it didn’t accurately reflect our business or how we wanted to present it to the market.

In the ideation stage, I tried to keep some elements from the original style, but we wanted something that felt authentic to Growth Lending. I looked at brands inside and outside our sector to decide how best to differentiate us in a competitive marketplace. Using this research, we opted for a bold colour palette – and not just bold by our industry’s standards – which meant we could use a classic website layout but have fun with the illustrations and collateral.

We were also keen to capture our company’s mission in the visuals. As the name suggests, we help firms to maximise their potential for growth, so we were eager to translate “growth” in a way that wasn’t clichéd.

We had a few ideas but space became the focus. It is associated with advancements in technology, which aligns with a number of the firms we fund, and its mysterious qualities are similar to the unknowns that SMEs face. The scale of outer space also reflects the idea that growth opportunities are endless, given the right support and expertise – something that everyone at Growth Lending believes. The multitude of shapes, as well as human elements, represents our tailored lending approach, delivered by our team rather than machines.

The brand developed into focusing on all things “out of this world”, which gave us the freedom to push the boundaries of our style. Our illustrations are not the stereotypical images you see in film and media associated with the extraterrestrial world: we added our own unique touch to make them authentic to Growth Lending.

The branding is unusual for this sector. Why was it important to create such a bold visual identity?

Eli:
This was important for a few reasons, the first being that Growth Lending operates in a saturated market where standing out from our competitors is essential. There are many factors that differentiate us from other lenders, but our previous branding did not make this clear.

I also believe that creating a brand of which our colleagues are proud encourages them to engage with our marketing materials. We want everyone at Growth Lending to love the new design, so that it inspires them to be proactive in promoting the brand.

Lastly, previous experience has taught me that branding is a great icebreaker and encourages conversations about a company. I hope that our new visual identity will trigger the same type of excitement and engagement.

Alex:
When I joined Growth Lending, the website was due to go live, but concerns were raised about the proposed colour palette, which was too similar to some of our competitors. Brands are always competing for attention, so it’s important to know where you want to position yourself against your rivals: do you choose a similar aesthetic, to ensure familiarity, or something completely different, to make sure you stand out?

We wanted something unique for the working capital space, so I tried some of our bold secondary colours as core colours to see how this would look. After a few iterations, we decided that yellow would be our dominant colour, with red and blue used as vibrant accents against it.

I feel that the new brand’s distinctive look will stand us in good stead in differentiating us from our competitors, while also reflecting the culture, values and attitudes of the Growth Lending team.

Can you tell us about the design concept for the logo?

Fran:
I joined the team halfway through the rebranding process and had to catch up on the existing ideas and plans. Having done so, I can say that one clear theme dominated the design concept, and this was growth. The typeface, logo, illustrations and everything in between: all came back to representing growth.

Eli:
Our new logo is a prime example. We introduced a 45-degree angle to the “G” and some of the other letters in our name, to represent the continuous trajectory of growth that we hope to see in the businesses we fund, as well as at Growth Lending.

Other considerations were creating a logo and typography that were both modern and timeless. You would think that these two words contradict each other, but finding a balance between them was important in ensuring the brand’s longevity. I also felt that there needed to be fluidity around these elements, so that if we want to move away from the “out of this world” theme, we can do so without too many constraints.

What was the most exciting part of the process?

Eli and Fran:
Creating the aliens!

Eli:
The illustrative process was a great experience. I have been working as an illustrator for a while and I am most confident when creating illustrations that have a clear direction. This rebranding was more challenging because there were many directions in which the illustrations could have gone. Looking back at the initial sketches, it’s rewarding to see how much they have evolved, to reach a point where I am really happy with them.

Fran:
I agree that the illustrations were the most exciting part – mainly because I had the opportunity to liaise with Eli, which has been invaluable. I’ve never worked closely with an illustrator before, so it has taught me a lot in a short period of time. The rebranding has also been a fantastic way to get involved with Growth Lending’s marketing team, as I was given responsibility from the start.

Alex:
I think the most exciting part is still to come. With Eli and Fran’s amazing illustrations and the team having created such a strong brand, I’m really excited about embedding this across social media and beyond. As we create more aliens and push the Growth Lending narrative further, our brand can only go from strength to strength.