The First Circle context is complex, nuanced and needed to be understood more deeply. We engaged the entrepreneurs First Circle helped at different stages of their growth and rounded off that understanding by speaking to their team and the founders themselves. We found that many of their clients were contending with the push and pull of where they are and what they needed, and that First Circle and its identity and design needed to help guide them towards where they could be.
The foundations of the design were rooted in the SME's path towards growth—where they could be. This path sought to reframe the stigma and uncertainty around FinTech and ensure that empathy is practiced and communicated at every step.
This insight not only clarified our approach to the brand and the design, but it also culminated in a visionary statement of what First Circle can do for its clients: Financing Possibilities.
This defined the design language all throughout the brand. We designed the logo to symbolize an entrepreneur's literal first, trusted, inner circle.
The play on white space shows the connections that branch out from it and that give one support. The network and the circle then became key components of the design system we would eventually develop. An icon system was created in levels of increasing complexity, from icons that were clean and straightforward up to those with details that centered on the line and the dot. This keeps the key visual of growth and progress consistent throughout the brand. The approachability of the sans serif in the logo was extended to the rest of the typesetting. It is approachable and friendly while staying professional and trustworthy. The subtle curves in its letterforms represent movement, growth, and progression.
A comprehensive tone & language guide was put together to inform how First Circle speaks to its different stakeholders, emphasizing the balance of vision, empathy and credibility its voice must take throughout all its communications.
The design exhausts the possibilities of the circle and the path to continuously nudge towards the ideas of trust, progress and growth. From two key elements, the applications are able to communicate the full spectrum of values First Circle holds — from standalone rings that highlight individuality and show recognition, enclosed circular frames to communicate security, safety and warmth, intersecting circles and paths showing support through growth, to finally, circles radiating outward to represent potential.
Today, First Circle continues on in its mission to serve the Filipino SME, partnering with DTI and expanding into more than 900 Go Negosyo centers nationwide. They have since launched the new brand on their website in collaboration with web developer Symph, bringing to fruition many of the insights gained from the project and expanding the design system onto an online experience.