American Express Brand Exploratory

My role:
Experience Designer
Tools and methods:
Hand sketching, Proto.io, Sketch, Marvel App
Above/ Modernized logo for American Express

Brief

As payments continue to become increasingly digital, how can one of the world's most prestigious financial company adapt?

American Express wanted to explore opportunities on how the brand could better position themselves for the digital future.

Solution

Siegel+Gale provided design directions to advance the core concept of an American Express membership and what it means for years to come.

As the future of payments move away from the physical cards and more towards the digital wallets, we had to break traditional molds and re-define how the AMEX brand will continue to distinguish itself.

By providing a more personable interaction between an individual and the brand, my team provided the foundations for this change in what we called "moments of welcome and service" within the American Express mobile app.

Above/ Brand concept video
Process

Strategy

Despite recent changes in commerce which has led to major changes in consumer behavior and expectations, we realized the unique strength of American Express with respect to its consistent quality of service.

To retain and build upon this foundation we advocated they continue to:

  • Sell premium cards (physical and digital)
  • Provide exclusive access
  • Provide exceptional rewards through points
  • Communicate status and prestige

After dissecting key pieces of the member experience, we determined that our focus needed to be American Express' presence in the day-to-day lives of their members. By forming relationships that feel more like partnerships, members can receive tailored solutions to prevent common problems a cardholder may encounter.

To accomplish this we created three experience principles that would anchor the brand into an individuals daily routine.

  • Reinforce safety and security
    Focusing on safety and security will inspire a member's confidence in AMEX's service.
  • Activate service
    Providing key features exclusive to AMEX members fosters financial knowledge and well-being.
  • Embrace change
    Being adaptable allows AMEX to keep up with the variety and speed of change in an indvidual's habits and needs.
Above/ Evolution of what  American Express stands for now to what it could be tomorrow

Introducing a new feature

Not only did we want to show how American Express could evolve visually, but how they build on their relationship with their members. We wanted to build and design a user flow that embodied our experience principles.

Currently, American Express categorizes the cardholder's transactions and provides a helpful pie chart for their members. We took this a step further a proposed a "Create a budget" feature within the mobile app. By providing this feature, it pivots American Express from a transaction institution working on their members to a financial adviser working for their individuals.

By providing services such as this, members would see benefits that sows trust in the brand while inspiring confidence for various other features.

Right/ Pre-existing spending graphic within a member's American Express account portal

Low-fidelity wireframes

Below/ Exhibits of our research, user flows, and sketches

First, we sketched out a "create a budget" user flow.

Second, we internally tested the flow via Marvel to see if it made sense.

This flow illustrates our proposed onboarding process for a first-time user of the American Express app.

We start with enabling security features, then dived into personalizing the experience where users can decide which AMEX app feature want to customize.

High-fidelity screens

After testing with low-fidelity wireframes, we made some improvements:

  • First we decided to add more verbal direction in helping the user through the welcome process
  • Second, the verbal design was modified to be more friendly and human where cues were changed from "Let's configure your settings" to "Let's get you set up"
  • The initial design for the budget screen was based off of services like Mint where the user could either input a number or use a linear scale. After feedback, we changed the scale type to be a circle as it advocated a more natural gesture.
  • Finally we added the capability of AMEX notifying the member if they hit certain milestones like getting too close to hitting their budget, or celebrating along with them when they're consistently under-budget.

Reflection

Long story short, the project was a whirlwind. In two weeks, Siegel+Gale pulled together two strategic design directions with several mock-ups and notionals where I led the creation and prototyping of the first direction as showcased above.

The biggest challenge, in tandem with the aggressive timeline, was narrowing down how we wanted the experience to exemplify our strategy and design.

Rather than showcasing various screen designs, a step-by-step process helped the designers and stakeholders get into the mindset of the users.

A key takeaway for me, personally, was the use of prototyping tools such as the Marvel app to aid in cross-functional communication. It allowed my team to focus on the holistic experience while also allowing for brief user-testing around the office to ensure the design was progressing on the right track.

Project details
  • Agency: Siegel+Gale
  • Client: American Express
  • Year:  2019