This article originally appeared in Little Black Book.

It’s only Tuesday, and it already feels like one of those weeks at work. You’ve been on back-to-backs since saying ‘good morning’ to colleagues and your boss is chasing you. Deadlines are looming over your head like a dark nimbus cloud, ready to pour down the end of the world at any moment. Somehow, you manage to get through the day, but you’re feeling as drained as tinned tuna—if only a little treat could make it all better.

On your way home, you stop at the nearest chocolatière. On days like this, there is nothing like a salted caramel double millionaire cake to replenish your soul (and calorie intake). As you pay with your credit card, you receive a notification from your bank that says “Looks like you’ve been treating yourself! Hope that dessert brings you joy 😊.”

Whoa! Magic just happened. You feel a sense of familiarity and warmth, instantly forgetting your dreadful day. It’s like someone you know wrapped their arms around you and said, “Go ahead, you deserve this.” Even more surprising is that that automated message came from your bank—the very least of all institutions that would empathize with your emotional state at that moment. And in return, this creates a bond.

The example above is from Capital One’s chatbot called Eno. But Eno isn’t just your average virtual assistant; it’s a friendly companion that brings a touch of humanity to the often-impersonal world of banking. From witty banter to empathetic responses, Eno is designed to feel less like a faceless algorithm and more like a trusted friend who’s always there to lend a helping hand. Its personality shines through in every interaction, making even the most mundane banking tasks more enjoyable.

Their ‘bringing simplicity and humanity to credit cards’ ethos has been paying off. Since the introduction of Eno, the brand has been awarded by Forbes to Fortune 100 to Fast Company. In 2023 alone, net revenues were up 7.4% from the previous year to $36.8 billion, a remarkable feat CEO Richard Fairbank attributes to “leveraging machine learning in real-time to transform how we serve our customers.”

This is a testament to how financial service brands have been infusing technology with human-like qualities to build stronger businesses and bridge the gap between automation and trust. And we all know that trust is the currency that underpins every transaction in the bustling world of finance.

On a similar note, Moneyfarm, a digital wealth management platform, has been at the forefront of creating confidence in investing since its heyday in 2011. However, as the years went on, the brand became plagued by the rise of the so-called robo-advisors, generic investment brands powered by algorithm automation to achieve efficiency.

But unlike robo-advisors, Moneyfarm has the human dimension on its side; its financial coaches provide a partnership value-add that automation simply can’t deliver on its own. By humanizing its brand and showcasing an enhanced customer experience, Moneyfarm struck the right balance of how technology with IRL guidance can amplify its emotional appeal to customers. Here’s how they’ve achieved this:

Personalized financial guidance: Through advanced algorithms and machine learning, Moneyfarm analyzes vast amounts of data to offer investment recommendations that align with each customer’s unique financial goals, risk tolerance and investment horizon. This automation frees up human advisors to focus on layering personalized guidance, making this approach feel less like a cold algorithm and more like a knowledgeable friend guiding you.

Risk management: An automated risk assessment tool continuously evaluates market conditions and portfolio performance, enabling Moneyfarm to mitigate risks and optimize investment strategies accordingly. By keeping customers in the loop through tailored real-time notifications, the brand instills confidence in its ability to protect and grow wealth over the long term.

Empowerment: Easy access to educational resources, market insights and investment tools empowers customers and closes the financial literacy gap. By equipping customers with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed financial decisions, Moneyfarm reinforces its role as a trusted financial partner.

Capturing this delicate balance of man and machine was mission-critical to differentiate itself from digital competitors. In our branding assignment, we uncovered that at the heart of this narrative lay a simple yet powerful idea: by deploying technology at the service of a more transparent and personalized experience for customers, Moneyfarm does more than streamline processes; it creates an investing partnership specific to people’s financial goals on a personal level. And what’s more personal to people than their relationship with money?

The new brand also aimed to pack more emotion. The digital investing landscape can be seen as too sterile, so cutting through the clutter of financial jargon and firm handshake imagery was paramount. With its new arc graphic device that revolves around the customer on photography, the brand screams personalization. All elements have been carefully curated to signal the benefit of having the right people by your side during your investment journey. Something robo-advisors can’t provide.

Humanizing technology in financial services isn’t just a gimmick; it’s a strategic imperative for bridging the gap between the digital world and the human experience. These forward-looking brands have shown that infusing technology with empathy, transparency and personality, can forge deeper connections with customers and lay the foundation for a more trusting and resilient future.

 

Patrick Kampff is Senior Strategy Director.