From digital lab to a global design team

A story of design maturity where the design culture has shifted towards leveraging design as a strategic tool for the business to support the acquisition and engagement of clients.

Else started working with T. Rowe Price in 2016 initially looking at how digital tools could support the sales cycle before, during and after sales meetings. By taking a service design approach we brought roles together from across the business (the Relationship Managers and Fund Analysts), technology and design functions to create solutions around a known problem area.

In our time working together, we’ve seen the digital team mature from a ‘Digital Lab’, into a globally distributed team. Else has supported T. Rowe through the challenges they face today—market climate, augmented teams, new working models, supporting business expansion—through to helping establish T. Rowe as a leading, digitally mature, Asset Manager.

Key achievements

Trusted advisor to T.Rowe teams

Established a global design system

Pioneered user-centred innovation approaches

Design as a strategic way forward

Our first project was a service design project to look at how digital can support the preparation, delivery and post-sales meeting experience. By working closely with sales teams across the business—APAC, EMEA, the UK and the US—we built a comprehensive Experience Blueprint of opportunities.

One key opportunity that was quickly developed into a pilot product was Source, a tablet app that enabled sales teams access to real-time fund performance information and commentary. The creation of Source demonstrated to the wider organisation how by taking a Design Thinking approach we can open design up as a collaborative strategic business tool.

The project was a success, providing a digital tool that was quickly put into practice with sales teams. It instigated a way of working to identify new initiatives and established the Digital Lab for the global digital team.

Creating standards across the enterprise

T. Rowe Price has a large ecosystem of digital client experiences. Scaling these client experiences in a consistent and effective way is vital to the future success of the business.

In 2019, Else started work on an audit of the T. Rowe digital estate. The intention was to understand the breadth of modules being used across all T. Rowe Price websites globally in order to suggest ways these could be standardised and consolidated into a single design system.

To illustrate the effectiveness of the audit, it is worth doing a before and after comparison of some of the key elements of their digital estate:

  • From 169 type styles for body copy to 12
  • From 145 button styles to 12
  • From 240 colour style variants to 57
  • From 63 content tile variants to 24

Fast forward to today, and the design system, now called Beacon, is up and running and being used across the global T. Rowe digital community. It uses atomic design principles and is made up of reusable design elements, patterns and code that power the client experiences across all of T. Rowe’s websites. It also includes training, guidance and access to expert support.

Beacon has been created in collaboration with the design community, ensuring that every design decision has been inclusive and has brought together teams across product, design and development.


A One-Team philosophy

Since the start of working with T. Rowe, we’ve defied the classic Agency X Client relationship to create a team culture that has seen Else as a genuine extension to the T. Rowe team. In order for us to be entrusted with operating within the business, we’ve had a shared set of principles that define how we do what we do, not just what we create.

Our ambition for every team member of Else has been to become regarded as a Trusted Advisor where we balance knowledge about the operation of the business with maintaining an external perspective.

During this time we’ve worked on-site and forged close working relationships, which has enabled us to help elevate the role of design and the standards by which we work.

A new brand experience

In November 2023 T. Rowe launched a refreshed brand across a number of key touchpoints, including a new Enterprise website. The refresh signalled a bolder and more confident T. Rowe and a stark change in what is expected in the Asset Management sector.

The rollout of a new brand is always a challenge, but T. Rowe wanted to do it in a short space of time, something that would challenge teams to work together and leverage the advantage that Beacon afforded. T. Rowe now have an exciting visual and verbal design language to build upon and a combined spirit to deliver fast, iterative solutions that will grab attention in the market.

Change starts with a conversation

Let's get started