Barclays Benji Birch

Case Study
Your digital assistant, and friend who nurtures your mental health when digesting financial problems.
My Role
UI/UX Design
Copywriter: Daniel Persaud
Strategist: Allyson Florez
Adobe XD | Illustrator | After Effects | Miro
February - May 2020
12 weeks

01 / The Problem

76% of Millennials say that dealing with their financial information is stressful.
Finance is an overwhelming topic, and often adds to preexisting mental health issues. One problem can feed off the other, creating a vicious cycle of growing financial problems and worsening mental health that is hard to escape. Across the UK, more than 1.5 million people are experiencing both debt and mental health problems. So how can Barclays help vulnerable customers with mental health issues manage their money better?

02 / The Solution

A digital assistant, and a friend that monitors your mental health.
Our assistant happens to be the Barclay’s Eagle, Birch, who’s always checking up on you to see how you’re doing 24/7. He monitors your heart rate to ensure you’re in control and displays your information in an easily digestible manner. Using your heart rate, Birch can detect any spikes and ask if you’re okay. Birch is responsive, and adapts to you.

03 / The Research

Many people feel stressed and overwhelmed when thinking about their finances.
We wanted to reconsider the banking experience by taking a more empathetic and digestive approach. By researching user’s habits, emotions, routines, and interests, we were able to take those in account for our app. We conducted empathy interviews, created affinity maps, and journey maps to help us further understand users feel more at ease when handing finances.

Affinity Map

First, we conducted empathy interviews with 30 individuals to find commonality between the interviewee. Our Affinity Map highlights 5 major categories:

1. Budget
2. Banking
3. Emotions
4. Fear of the Unknown
5. Who Do I Talk To?
Questions we Asked
What do you do when you’re in a sudden and tough financial situation?

Is there anything you wish you can change with your bank? Is there any feature you wish they can add?

Do you ask for help when you struggle with your finances? Who do you talk to? If not, why?

When was the last time you were stressed over money? What did you do?

What do you do to save money? Are your saving methods working?
“As a dependent young adult, I want to be able to learn more about finances in a way that makes me less anxious.”
Leslie is a college graduate and an artist. She has a passion for illustrations, but it’s taking some time for her new career to pick up. She tries to stay busy, doing her best to make ends meet.

For the first time, Leslie is living alone a studio with her pet cat, Kiki. She loves her family, but wants to prove that she is ready to be independent. She can be shy around new people, and easily embarrassed about personal things.

Leslie often feels anxious when looking into new information on finances, since it can be so overwhelming. But she feels like she needs to learn more in order to improve her freelance business and personal life. She finds comfort in solitude, and uses her free time to play relaxing games.

To stay on budget and get financial advice from a trusting source.

Stay on a well balanced budget
Maintain mental health with good self care
Learn more about finances

Pain Points
Stressed about money and loans.
Nervous about future expenses.
User Journey Map / Leslie Hart
Leslie has recently graduated college and is she want to be independent for the first time; juggling an internship, part-time job, and the new costs come with living on your own. Leslie wants to figure out how she should tackle her finances in the best way that would work for her.
Goals and Expectations
Her goal is to feel more confident that she is more prepared for the future. She wants to learn more about finances in a way that doesn’t overwhelm her.

04 / Visual Design

Birch will collect your stress data and recommend ways to manage your stress.
Our app provides a digital assistant that’s there for you every step of the way, making sure that you’re feeling okay. The app is more user-friendly and approachable. With Benji guiding you through the way, users can feel at ease when handling their finances. Birch will collect your stress data and recommend ways to manage your stress.


Connects to all your digital devices to keep track of your stress habits, and react accordingly. Compatible with Alexa, Nest Home, Apple Watch, FitBit, and other Smart Devices.


Apple watch keeps track of heart rate while user is looking at other finance apps. If the user’s heart rate goes up, our mascot will appear to ask if they’re ok and direct them if need.


Birch will collect your stress data and recommend ways to manage your stress. For example, if you’re stressed and looking at your app at home, Alexa will play for favorite chill song automatically, your smart lights will dim with warm colors for a meditative time.


Users can either do a breathing exercise with Benji Birch the BARCLAYS BIRD, or forwarded to helpful information. If stress levels are in a “danger” zone birch will message a close family/friend to call you.

05 / Design System

A design system that brings a sense of serenity.
For Barclays, we aimed to create a visual language that’s sophisticated yet calming and digestible, using gradients, an immersive character, a sans-serif font, and micro-interactions.
We decided on a blue-green color system because the color blue gives a sense of trust and security. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety and symbolize growth.
Niveau Grotesk is influenced by classical nineteenth-century geometric faces. Because of its straight architecture, it punches in big sizes but is very legible in smaller sizes and longer texts.

06 / Process

A project always starts somewhere.
We started off by just brainstorming ideas for the problem. Once the idea was finalized, we began making character designs for Benji Birch. Once everything was decided, we tackled the wireframes.
My group sat down together to sketch out ideas that came to the top of our heads. We came up with 25 ideas and narrowed it down to 8. Within these 8 ideas, we combined them all into one app.
Character Design
Barclays logo is an eagle, so we decided to make our mascot an eagle as well! By making our mascot cute and approachable, users can feel at ease when using the app.
In the development phase, my focuses were simplicity and readability. A more user-friendly approach allows users to focus on the content and data presented.

07 / Reflection

My key takeaways from Benji Birch.
I was able to learn how to use empathy interviews to create solutions to problems you wouldn’t usually think of. By using the interviews, we can create an affinity map to see what we can find that common with other interviewers. This was also my first time using this method to come up with ideas but it was really effective.