Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Connect the brand to young adults through focusing on their money-spending habits.


Society of Grownups, a digital company that aims to educate millennials on the basics of personal finance and financial wellness.

When you’re under 40, buying a life insurance policy may seem about as practical as buying a Humvee. That makes insurance a tough sell for a 165-year-old company like MassMutual. To find a way to become relevant to this generation, MassMutual partnered with IDEO with a mission to get young people interested in their own spending habits.

Over the course of two years, the teams set out to learn about how people across the U.S. spend and save their money, and they uncovered a simple theory: you either have a smart money mindset or you don’t. When it comes to being mature about financial issues—chipping away debt, saving to buy a car—it doesn’t always come naturally. If anything, many feel disconnected from money-related matters, even if it’s in their best interest to know more.

The work felt like a partnership rather than an engagement, and the quality of design approach sits somewhere between art and magic.


"I hate going to a bank and not really knowing what I am doing when it comes to money," said Simon Bowers, a 31-year-old who works in public relations, featured in an article in Fast Company about the MassMutual-IDEO collaboration. "They don’t seem to take into account that this might be scary for us."

So how to invite this wary demographic to the table? Design an accessible way to meet them wherever they are: online and on their phones. IDEO helped build the new venture from the ground up—designing a brand identity and experience focused on transparency, meeting users where they are, and helping people navigate complicated financial situations so they can live life on their own terms. It’s called Society of Grownups, and you can think of it as a sort of master’s program for adulthood. Each piece of the program builds on a common vision that continues to iterate every day.

The responsive online experience allows users to take action on their goals anytime, anywhere—and does so in keeping with the bold yet humble brand expression.

After building and testing full-scale, live prototypes, the brick-and-mortar Boston location opened in 2014 and operated much like a supper club—a warm, inviting space where young people could hang out, feast on delicious meals, attend talks, and learn about things like 401Ks, living on a budget, and how to pick good, cheap wine. After two years of continued prototyping, MassMutual recognized that the digital channel has the most potential to grow and closed the brick-and-mortar location to focus their investment in building out the bespoke online financial tools to reach more people across the nation.

Thoughtful typography and other playful, informative expressions bring the Society of Grownups brand to life.

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