Tend Champions Financial Well-being and Gets an Expressive Brand Identity From Gretel

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There's seemingly nothing human about the world of finance. It's filled with words most no one knows the true meaning of and nuances beyond belief. Factor in the intimidation levels on top of it all, along with all that math, and it's a recipe for disaster.

Tend is a new personal finance platform that's rethinking the entire industry. With design direction from the New York-based design and branding studio Gretel, the identity for Tend focuses on three main pillars: community, co-creation, and financial rewards.

The system uses three simple lines assembled in a T formation as a metaphor for Tend's community. The bright colors and editorial photography help make this brand both more approachable and more engaging.

Tend's branding and identity doesn't scream "bank," but that was the whole point; this is a new, bold, and compelling brand that's willing to shake things up unabashedly.

Tend, a next-generation personal finance platform committed to making access to financial well-being better for everyone, has officially launched in the U.S. and Mexico. The membership model combines financial technology with social interaction to make accessing, moving and growing people’s money easier, faster and more human.

Tend partnered with New York-based design and branding studio Gretel to name and launch a brand identity for Tend which could confidently flourish in the fintech sector. The resulting brand breaks out of the mold of traditional banking services, while positioning Tend to become both trustworthy and inspiring to its specific audience.

Collective banking

Tend is a new player in the market of digital neo-banks.

The Tend vision revolves around three main ideas: community, co-creation and financial rewards, many of which have never been available to underbanked populations and audiences in the U.S. and Mexico.

According to James Dunavant, CEO, “Tend is an ambitious shift towards more dynamic financial tools that enable an open exchange with the customer base, and reframe banking as a more welcoming space. We didn’t just want to be another banking app, we wanted to build a financial network that celebrates and uplifts its users.”

The company partnered with Gretel to build a brand that could match their ambitious mission to infuse a sense of financial well-being into every behavior of the brand, from product to UX to comms and marketing.

Tend expresses this ambition through a mission developed in partnership with Gretel: to build the world’s first banking collective. As a result of in-depth explorations of what this means, Tend and Gretel have unveiled a brand that embodies the idea of community, while creating a framework that speaks to the collective nature of Tend’s services.

Financial well-being

“Banking is emotional,” explains Gretel’s Strategy Director, Daniel Edmundson. “Research shows fear, shame and anger are the most common emotions surrounding money and that negative connotations and undertones control the category as a whole. From the start, the tenor of Tend needed to be centered on optimism and a more inclusive approach.”

In the strategic phase, Gretel interviewed stakeholders and target audiences to broaden the idea of why people bank—from a mere pursuit of wealth, to something deeper: financial well-being.

To cultivate a sense of financial well-being, Tend’s focus on community, co-creation and financial rewards serve as the key pillars for the brand. Tend looks to users to co-create its product, a process which ensures their unique needs are met. By sourcing content from its users, Tend aspires to use its platform to create a financial information sharing network that will benefit the underbanked and offer community and guidance, all while users enjoy financial rewards that aren’t traditionally available to any but elite tiers of banking programs.

Tend’s Dunavant explains: “This idea makes the pursuit achievable by anybody with any amount of money: even small financial rewards can go a long way to improve your life, and over time permanently tilt into the positive spectrum.”

This sense of well-being can be succinctly summed up in the brand’s name.

“The name Tend is particularly special,” says Gretel’s Edmundson. “It’s perfectly in line with the brand’s purpose and voice. It’s active and intentional, warm and inviting, it implies caring for something other than oneself and nods to a general sense of growth and progress.”

Expressive minimalism

Tend’s commitment to giving everyone a voice through a new approach to banking manifests not only in the brand’s community-driven platform, but just as clearly through the design system by Gretel.

The system uses three simple lines assembled in a T formation as a metaphor for the community that Tend is building: Tend brings people together to collectively make the most of their financial lives by joining. The T can connect with other lines infinitely: this is a visual representation of Tend’s growing, interwoven network of members.

Andrea Trabucco-Campos, Creative Director, Gretel says: “We did not shy away from a strong visual and linguistic personality to ensure Tend didn’t feel immediately like a bank, because it isn’t.” The resulting design is colorful and confident, deploying warm, bright colors, in stark contrast to the blues, greens and blacks that dominate the sector. The typography is bold yet inviting, bringing clarity to any message, while delivering it with a striking attitude.

“The core ideas powering the identity are growth and connection,” explains Trabucco-Campos. “The growth that happens when you join a community of like-minded, honest people that are willing to listen and respond to your needs and engage in a conversation.”

Proving it out

Tend’s identity touches on all aspects of the brand, from the app UI and the website design delivered in a modular framework, to debit cards and marketing assets ranging from printed matter to digital advertising, from illustration to photographic commissions.

Most importantly, it stays true to Tend’s vision for how a community-based banking experien
ce can add real value to anyone’s life, providing a unified ecosystem for people to save, spend and financially connect across borders without friction.

Gretel’s Edmundson sums it up: “Tend doesn’t just preach change, but proves it out in both offering and expression.”

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