Starling Bank

Brand Strategy & Design | UX Design


Starling was an early stage start-up with no visual identity or brand direction. Their is to use modern technology to shape how people use and manage their money.

I lead a small team, including the Design Director and Lead Digital Strategist, and created the brand strategy and visual identity. Our approach focused on the digital and interactive nature of the challenger bank. We worked collaboratively and at pace to launch and continue to grow Starling so that it had a strong sense of self from the outset.


We researched the needs of the business and users, holding workshops, stakeholder interviews and collaborative sessions to understand and expand Starling's vision.

The outcome of this research lead to the creation of the brand personality, 'The Sherpa'. The Sherpa represents a calm, reassuring character who provides great insight and guidance, without being distracting or disruptive.

Personality spectrum

We explored the brand personality along a spectrum, from playful, through empathetic to direct, learning how the Sherpa would manifest at each point, and to what degree.

This approach enabled us to cast light on new user needs and suggest possible feature ideas, as well as progress the brand strategy.

Relationship Form

We produced a number of brand directions that framed the relationship in different ways, and then analysed them in combination with the personality spectrum.

The results led to an understanding of how people related to a 'facilitator of money control' and how to form the trust-based relationship necessary before help and insight into their spending behaviour would be well received.

The Brand Language

Our work led to a brand that expressed a relationship between the user and Starling through the graphic representation of being 'in-sync'. The logo mark is split into two individual elements that interact, subtly illustrating a relationship through how they react, collaborate and synchronize with each other.

The use of colour, typography, imagery and movement was guided by the brand behaviour spectrum, which based on our research could be applied to different contexts with a sensitivity that reflected the Sherpa's deferent, empathetic and insightful nature.

App experience

The brand behaviour was clearly expressed in the design of the app, with the development of brand spaces, which, with an understanding of the context in which that message needed to be communicated, were able to express the brand's personality and form the relationship with the user.

Enable Scroll

Marketing Site

The launch site was a pure expression of the brand, as at the time the product wasn't ready to show. It converted early adopters with presentation of the vision and the brand values.