A Financial Learning Space for the Next Generation of Customers

Designing a new business idea for a top American insurance company

A Financial Learning Space for the Next Generation of Customers

Designing a new business idea for a top American insurance company

A Financial Learning Space for the Next Generation of Customers

Designing a new business idea for a top American insurance company

A Financial Learning Space for the Next Generation of Customers

Designing a new business idea for a top American insurance company

SCOPE

Business Design
Environments Design
Design Research

OUR ROLE

Project Leadership
Design Direction

BUDGET & DURATION

BUDGET & DURATION

+ $3 million
1.5 years

+ $3 million
1.5 years

State Farm is one of the leading insurance companies in North America. It offers a broad range of insurance, banking, and investment products and services. Over the past few years, State Farm’s core offerings have faced various challenges, including a decrease in car ownership per household, public policy changes, safer vehicle design, new car-sharing services, and a shifting client base. To address a changing marketplace and build stronger relationships with Millennials (consumers born between 1981 and 2000), State Farm engaged IDEO in a four-year, radically collaborative relationship that resulted in the design and launch of Next Door, a community-focused learning center that offers free, no-pressure financial coaching to consumers in the Chicago area. Next Door opened in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in August 2011.

Since opening, Next Door has registered many thousands of community members, provided thousands of coaching sessions, and hosted regular classes and community events. Next Door has also received praise from local and national media, and high ratings on Yelp. Through Next Door, State Farm has started a mutually beneficial dialogue between their employees and the Next Door community, with benefits ranging from helping and learning about young consumers to supporting local businesses. “At State Farm, we see Next Door as an open-source learning lab,” says Brett Myers, Next Door’s program director. “It’s a new way of being a ‘good neighbor’ for a new generation.”

My role

Prototyping: Environments Lead
Overall Project Leadership
Creative leadership

My role

Prototyping: Environments Lead
Overall Project Leadership
Creative leadership

Our role

Prototyping: Environments Lead
Overall Project Leadership
Creative leadership

Over the two years of work with State Farm to bring Next Door to life, I lead the environments workstream for the inital prototyping, then the overall go-to-market project, leading a team of 25 IDEO'ers, architects, engineers, and client-side team. I helped choose the site location, helped the executive team gain internal buy-in, helped choose the different partners, and helped the client real estate team bring Next Door to market.

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After interviewing 18- to 35-year-olds, IDEO’s design team soon discovered that many young people viewed traditional banks and insurance companies as “intimidating” and “unwelcoming,” selling products and services that were confusing, expensive, and irrelevant to their contemporary lifestyles.

To help change this perception, the team began designing a community “financial learning space” with no-pressure financial coaching as its core offering. To make the experience more realistic, designers built a full-scale prototype of the concept in a Chicago warehouse. IDEO and State Farm walked dozens of consumers through the prototype, acting out different service scenarios and roles and soliciting feedback. IDEO also interviewed State Farm agents, life coaches, and financial advisers about their goals, challenges, and connections with customers for additional inspiration.

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floor-plan

Prototyping and iterating created a true MVP

I worked with State Farm over a few years to take a broad vision and make it real – first in a West Loop warehouse with blue tape, then IKEA furniture, then with custom furniture, and then finally working with other experts to bring it to life. Every jump in fidelity we used feedback from people – experts and those who needed financial help alike – to clarify and distil what Next Door should be. 

When State Farm decided to take the idea from concept to bricks-and-mortar in 10 short months, IDEO invited the State Farm creative team and outside digital developers and architects to work side-by-side with IDEO designers for a few months in IDEO’s Chicago studio. Together, the team created the Next Door brand (logo, graphics, and more); key storefront and interior designs; digital designs including a website and an iPad Financial Coaching Tool; concepts for classes and community events; and a framework for the new venture’s organizational structure, service roles, and metrics for success. 

Cafe-Espresso-Area

Every aspect of the Next Door service experience is designed to support meaningful conversations about personal financial goals with Millennials. Next Door beckons curious passersby and makes them feel comfortable by providing a bright, modern interior filled with comfy sofas, free Wi-Fi, whiteboards, and a café stocked with locally-sourced artisanal coffee and snacks. Helpful hosts explain what Next Door has to offer. A wall-sized chalkboard advertises free classes taught by Financial Coaches and local other experts, as well as events like art exhibitions and yoga classes hosted on-site by community members. Professional conference rooms can be reserved for free, and a lending library is filled with books about personal finance.

NextDoor_CoachingPods

Next Door’s main attraction is free financial coaching. These experts— part mentors, part life coaches—help customers navigate the financial implications of such goals as starting a family, leasing a car, or buying a house. They offer insight and information in laypeople’s terms, bringing the State Farm heritage of “good neighbor” assistance to a new generation.

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External Stories

External Stories

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Next Door was envisioned to exist for only three years, acting as a research and marketing vehicle. We were always excited that State Farm continued to find value. Unfortunately, Next Door closed it's doors this year after 9 years due to COVID-related precautions.

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