If you’re working on a project for a financial services client, you may assume your creative options are limited. But you don’t have to stick to pie charts and stuffy board rooms—in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Like any topic, there are trends and factors that play into how your audience will react. Because finances are at the center of virtually everything we do as human beings, it’s natural that our views, values, and changing priorities affect how we consume financial tips and information.
To get to the bottom of what’s new in creative trends for financial services, we reached out to Tristen Norman, the Creative Planning Manager on the Getty Images and iStock Creative team for some insight on what designers and marketers can do to make their finance projects resonate.
Tech Drives How We Live Our Lives
“You aren’t just using your phone for entertainment,” says Norman. “In a lot of ways, it’s how you move through the world.” We use our phones to order dinner, call a cab, and yes, to tackle our financial goals. So, if you’re working on a project that aims to get your audience to be better at budgeting, for example, don’t immediately go for a stock image of a ledger, a pie chart, or generic fanned out money. Think critically about what people do today to budget—they use apps, or their banking app tracks expenses for them. Consumers strategically use specific credit cards to reap cash back rewards, and they track it all with—you guessed it—an app. So in this case, an image featuring someone crunching numbers on their phone during their commute home, or sitting at their desk with a laptop might just be more effective than just searching “budget”.
Younger Generations Are Putting Off Milestones
Possibly a result of high costs of living and an increase in student loan debt, millennials and members of Gen Z (the youngest generation, and the drivers of future spending) tend to put off traditional milestones much longer than their older counterparts. “The things we’re using financial institutions for are just different,” says Norman. “We’re putting off things like marriage in favor of finding a ‘chosen family’ of friends and significant others. We’re traveling instead of leasing a car. That’s all important.”
So what does that mean for a financial sector brand, one that might be used to promoting the traditional American dream of a mortgage and a new car? It doesn’t mean that those things are out: there are still many Americans who want to buy a house. But there’s also a huge subsection of the audience that would respond better to ads that featured someone living a nomadic lifestyle or spending money on weekend brunches instead of picket fences. What’s great is that these are very tangible topics you can search for easily. Plus, because so many of the “banker pointing to chart” stock imagery you see is tired and overdone, an authentic travel photo—accompanied by a statement about saving money and exploring the world—will feel fresh and new.
We Ask More of the Brands We Work With
The last (and arguably most important) aspect to consider with new generations and how they view consumerism and finances is that they ask more from the ideology of the companies they do business with. “We want our companies to build action around their ethos,” says Norman. “Things like climate change, images that accurately represent our world, and more.” This new emphasis on altruism and common values means that leaning on an emotional connection in ads can help a lot, oftentimes more so than ads that feature a savings offer.
An added benefit here is that, because so many ads try to depict a dated sense of financial professionalism (i.e. an older businessman in a fancy suit or a stuffy board room), opting for imagery that represents people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, or even an environmental issue can help you stand out from the more “traditional” ad choices. “We are overstimulated as a culture,” says Norman. “What luxury is today isn’t always a ‘power suit’. Things like Silicon Valley and the tech industry have changed that—harnessing those changes can help you stand out.”
Want to find on-trend imagery for your financial services projects? Start with iStock.