For an activity that relates to the thing we spend most of our waking lives accruing, banking delivers precious few moments of joy. Maybe the slick resolution of a problem when you expected a battle? Or the paying off of a 25 year mortgage? But what about those daily moments of joy that offer up a little smile. I saw Ben Huh, he of smile inducing website ICanHasCheezburger.com, speak at FOWA a few years back. Ben said their whole business model was built around 5 second moments of joy. Of course pictures of cats with humourous captions are not quite an apples to apples comparison with banking but how many banking propositions and services factor in any kind of joy let alone a whole 5 seconds worth?
Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy gave an exceptional talk at TED Global last year entitled sweating the small stuff. As well as having some useful suggestions for cash machines, Rory also gave examples of small details that brought momentary delight. My favourite being the lift at a hotel in Sweden which featured the usually designed buttons that at first glance you would think are for the individual floors but they are actually for your choice of lift music. Other examples included the cute little airplane shaped salt and pepper sellers in Virgin First Class that bear the stamp ‘Stolen from Virgin’ underneath, reflecting the fact that people so often liberate them. A knowing smile and a fuzzy warm glow must beset a person upon the first notice of these things? And while the line between joy and novelty may be a fine one, the organisations that never get near to this line maybe lacking the culture of little moments of joy internally let alone externally.
Another recent example is Little Big Details which showcases little pieces of online design that you can see a person has put real care and love into. From the small download progress indicators in Google Chrome to the delightful credit card input forms on GitHub.
These little signature pieces by individual designers or smart thinking groups show the love they have for their product. Would these wondrous little things make it past the early design stages of large corporate processes? Would the developer/designer be brave enough to even try? Or should Internet Banking be a functional utility rather than a thing of beauty? I think I share the opinion of Brendan Dawes on the latter…
The food industry increasingly features such moments of joy. Innocent drinks with their hidden bottle messages and I recently saw a great example from Sheffield’s very own makers of sugar loaded cupcakes of wonder, Fancie. The ‘eat by date’ on their boxes is very nice (as are their sugar loaded cupcakes of wonder).
And it is not just food companies. How about email newsletter publisher MailChimp giving a bit of motivational encouragement after delivering a campaign?
But can a heavily regulated industry get away with such frivolity? Is it ‘on brand’ for a bank? How about some humour on your mortgage statement? ‘Your Mortgage will be paid off sometime around 2035…If I were you I would overpay as much as possible so you can sod off round the world sooner rather than later’.
Maybe I am completely wrong (almost certainly if past indications are anything to go by) and all people actually want from banks are ultra slick almost invisible interfaces that just get out of their way (which would actually bring joy) and let them get on with doing something more joyous elsewhere. Or maybe I am right and people would like a bit of humanity, a flair for design or just 5 seconds of joy in their banking lives. If anyone has any great examples of little moments of joy from a bank I would love to see them.