Strategy + Design
Designing the digital dating app’s first meet-up spot IRL.
Bumble started out as a dating app. As time went on, though, the brand evolved as users began to hack the app in search of platonic and professional relationships, as well, not just romantic connections. In response, Bumble launched two additional platforms, BumbleBFF and BumbleBizz. Within the app, users could then choose which type of connection they were looking for and swipe from there.
Put simply, Bumble became the place where people meet.
Our task was straightforward:
Design this digital brand’s first ever retail space.
The space must both generate revenue and help build the brand.
To ensure that our new space reflected the values and aspirations of the brand itself, as well as met the needs and wants of the platforms’ users, we knew we had to gather both internal and external perspectives on the brand.
In order to do so, we conducted:
Agency Partner Interviews
1. Internally, Bumble is more than an app. It’s a mindset and a lifestyle.
Employee and Agency Partner interviews helped us articulate the brand’s core values, as well as get inspired by how passionate these employees were about what this company stood for. It became clear that Bumble’s guiding principles extended well beyond the dating arena:
“We see Bumble as a movement, bringing kindness and respect back into introductions and promoting equality in traditionally male-dominated relationships.”
"We’re more than a feature where women make the first move. Equality is in our DNA.”
2. Externally, Bumble was viewed as just another dating app.
When we asked users about the brand, though, it became obvious that they still only viewed Bumble as another dating app. Many were unaware that the brand had launched additional platforms for platonic and professional connections, as well. The Bumble mindset and lifestyle was not yet as pervasive as the brand had hoped.
“Oh you mean the app where the girl has to start the conversation right?”
“Like Tinder, but the ladies get to decide whether or not to talk first.”
There was clearly a gap between what the brand believed it represented and how people perceived it.
From there, our opportunity became clear:
Create and design our space to help round out the brand’s perception.
But who's going to come to our space?
Our user research allowed us to develop a more detailed persona of Bumble’s most passionate and supportive users, our superfans, who would be the primary target audience for this new space:
With our team set to begin designing, we wanted to establish several design rules to guide us through the process and be as true to the brand as possible.
We made sure that every choice we made as we created this retail location was:
Playful, Welcoming, Bold, Feminine, and Fun...
just like Bumble.
We created several mood boards to help us begin to articulate these design principles visually, as well.
A women-first place to meet and connect
The first floor of Colony is our
The space is open to the public, feels inviting, and is a place to meet and gather. It features:
A sunken lounge
The first floor is designed to encourage casual, friendly conversation and interaction. It is intended to be a tangible manifestation of BumbleBFF and the kinds of connections that that platform fosters.
We designed menus for the cafe along with conversation-starter coffee cups and ice-breaker cards to be placed on each table.
The second floor of Colony is our co-working space.
The second floor is a members-only, all female co-working space. It features:
A small library
Stadium-style seating for speakers and events
A dumbwaiter to deliver food from downstairs
Memberships would include all day access, free speakers and events, classes like self-defense and yoga, happy hours, and discounts with local business partners. Membership dues would also generate revenue for the brand.
This space is meant to reflect BumbleBizz and allow for women to bolster their professional networks in a safe and friendly environment curated by Bumble.
The third floor of Colony is our rooftop bar.
It's open to the public and has fun, casual vibes. It features:
A hexagon-shaped central bar
Private seating for one-on-one chats
High top tables
A projector screen for events
The rooftop is designed to bring to life the excitement and romance of the connections made on Bumble’s original (and most popular) platform. The goal is to help encourage the transition of those dating connections made on the app into the physical world.
Launching our new space
With the layout and design of Colony solidified, the last thing we had to consider was how to get our idea off the ground.
We threw a surprise launch party on the roof of the Brandcenter, where we were pitching the idea, in order to generate buzz and excitement from key decision makers.
And just like the space itself, every detail was on brand.
From our setup...
to our conversation-starter name tags, snap filter...
Our high-profile party host (a.k.a. our friend, Josh)...
...to our merch.
...and wifi netwerrkk.
...helped us excite prospective customers...
…and impress the most important key decision maker of all,
our professor, Kelly O’Keefe, who ultimately had the final say.
He loved it.
Ashley Devereux, CBM
Taylor Click, CBM
Caroline Bivens, CBM
Miguel Atkins, CBM
Luke Colombo, CBM
User, employee, and partner interviews
Establishing and carrying out design rules
Floor layout and design (rooftop, primarily)
Launch Party orchestration