2017 Corporate Leader Bloomberg L.P.
By Howard Belk, co-CEO and chief creative officer, Siegel+Gale, and Fahd Arshad, global head of UX design for financial products, Bloomberg March 20, 2017
2017 Corporate Leader Bloomberg L.P.
By Howard Belk, co-CEO and chief creative officer, Siegel+Gale, and Fahd Arshad, global head of UX design for financial products, Bloomberg March 20, 2017
2017 Corporate Leader Bloomberg L.P.
By Howard Belk, co-CEO and chief creative officer, Siegel+Gale, and Fahd Arshad, global head of UX design for financial products, Bloomberg March 20, 2017

2017 Corporate Leader Bloomberg L.P.

Recognized for their history of design innovation, their advancement of design on multiple fronts, and increasing transparency by connecting networks of information, people, and ideas

At their core, Bloomberg is an information and technology company, but there is no algorithm to their approach to design. Rather, everything Bloomberg does stems from an insatiable desire to meet their users’ needs by constantly pushing the boundaries of business, technology, and design. In doing so, Bloomberg has brought transparency and clarity to the financial markets, and has helped transform how global financial professionals operate.

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The Bloomberg Terminal runs on a PC with the option of connecting through the Internet, allowing customers to integrate Bloomberg data with their other desktop tools, such as Microsoft Excel.

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Users rely on a Bloomberg keyboard with a biometrics fingerprint scanner to log into their account. A credit card–sized B-unit fingerprint scanner can also be used when a Bloomberg keyboard is unavailable.

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Founders Michael Bloomberg and Tom Secunda created the Bloomberg Terminal to address the need among Wall Street firms for a more sophisticated method of gathering and analyzing market information. (Left): In 1982, 22 Terminals were installed at Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg’s first customer. (Right): The color interface was introduced in 1991.

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Bloomberg's LEED-certified New York headquarters broke all norms and revolutionized paradigms of workplace design. A manifestation of the core values of the company, the space is transparent and open. Architects: STUDIOS Architecture, NY

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Bloomberg's suite of mobile applications across iOS, Android, and Blackberry provides the latest financial news, data, and information to keep professionals connected to the financial markets.

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Users can customize their Terminal workspace, choosing from thousands of applications placed across multiple computer displays.

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Bloomberg produces breaking-news infographics as well as complex interactive data visualizations in reports such as “How to Catch Spoofers Who Manipulate Markets: What 60 Seconds of Trading Looks Like.”

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A refresh of Bloomberg’s brand collateral system, including updated business cards and boxes, notebooks and pads, folders, pencils, umbrellas, and pantry cups. The Terminal and the colors of its keyboard provided the unifying visual concept.

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“Bloomberg Businessweek” delivers influential reporting and fresh perspectives across business, finance, and industry, using design to create an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating experience.

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An example of the power of interactive data visualizations, Bloomberg Carbon Clock tracks the global monthly average of emissions, measured in parts per million.

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Bloomberg’s new brand design system, The Dynamic Space, helps the company adapt across media, informs Bloomberg’s approach to all communications and design, and brings the brand to life through energy, movement, adaptability, and flexibility.

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Large-scale posters throughout the Bloomberg global offices use data, statistics, and company iconography to showcase Bloomberg’s brand identity while reducing visual “noise” and elevating each building’s interior.

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Bloomberg's Hong Kong office features a three-story interconnecting staircase, with meeting areas built in to facilitate interaction and casual meet-ups between employees. Architects: Neri & Hu, Shanghai

In the early 1980s, technology in the financial world was mostly comprised of big IBM mainframes operated by specialists. Employees at financial firms such as Merrill Lynch wrote down their trades on paper and placed them on a conveyer belt to send to their colleagues. So a mechanical breakdown in the belt would cause the entire trade floor’s activities to literally grind to a halt.

Cofounders Mike Bloomberg and Tom Secunda knew that a digital system would be a huge improvement, but also understood that traders wouldn’t look too kindly on having a standard keyboard on their desks—word processors were for secretaries. So Bloomberg and Secunda designed their first keyboard with keys that were dedicated to specific tasks in the trading workflow. They replaced techno-language with human-centric labels to help their audience intuit which keys to hit, tailoring their product to their users. It was their attention to detail that made Bloomberg an iconoclast in the financial industry, and this approach remains the backbone of Bloomberg’s DNA today.

Later iterations of this original product came to be known as the Bloomberg Terminal, or the “Terminal” for short. Today it is a service with more than 300,000 subscribers, and distributing news in 40 languages.

Over the last 35 years, Bloomberg has spearheaded technological development, offering email and instant messaging, biometric authentication, trading platforms, and sophisticated analytics. Whenever existing hardware and software didn’t meet their users’ needs, Bloomberg pioneered their own. Before there was an Internet and TCP/IP, the company created their own networking protocols and laid down optical fiber to ensure that their users received the best possible experience.

Today the company stays maniacally focused on designing for the user by constantly prototyping and iterating on user feedback. A proprietary user-interface technology stack allows Bloomberg to get feedback from their clients early in the development cycle and release changes instantaneously. To get even more in-depth feedback, the company has built multimillion-dollar user research labs in their New York and London offices. Clients are invited to these labs to test-drive prototypes, and their reactions are carefully observed through multiple cameras and even eye-tracking. This potent combination of talking to clients in the field, getting feedback from multiple channels, and constantly testing and improving on their products has been key to Bloomberg’s continued success.

As the Terminal grew in subscribers and sophistication, so did the company overall. Timely news is hypercritical to Terminal subscribers, so in addition to redistributing wires and focused news sources, Bloomberg invested in an in-house news bureau. Eventually the news coverage expanded into the broader media space, with Markets Magazine, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg.com, and accompanying mobile apps to serve the broader business and financial community. These products stem from the same ethos of user-centric design, but deliver product in a completely different way from the Terminal. Powerful narratives, striking typography, and cutting-edge data visualization are just some of the hallmarks of their media products. And, as other media companies were retrenching, the company acquired the storied publication BusinessWeek, renamed it Bloomberg Businessweek, and undertook a dramatic redesign that evoked the brand’s fiercely independent spirit.

Bloomberg recognizes the value of a bold and consistent brand, an open and innovative culture, and the role design plays in curating them. Bloomberg's visual brand system mirrors that of the Terminal by breaking ranks with traditional financial services companies; by being smart, bold, dynamic, and unapologetic; and by making even the simplest of client communications a clear and engaging experience.

Bloomberg’s LEED-certified headquarters building in New York City broke all norms and revolutionized paradigms of workplace design. Their gleaming mothership is a manifestation of the core values of the company: transparent, open, egalitarian, and democratic. The space features glass walls and wall-to-wall news feeds, has no enclosed offices, and every employee—regardless of rank—sits at the same size desk.

What ties all this together is that customers rely on Bloomberg to monitor the world, navigate reams of information, and provide a framework for making decisions and acting on them. Design at Bloomberg is truly principles-led. Their design tenets are clarity, transparency, economy, intelligence, and judgment. It is a deadline-driven culture that prizes experimentation, design thinking, and storytelling. Designers and engineers at Bloomberg continually process a volume of information, data, transactions, media, and stories that would likely swamp any other organization. Moreover they get it back to customers simplified, prioritized, contextualized, and consumable in split seconds.

Unique to designing at Bloomberg is the tension between the creative aspirations of the design teams and a business-minded audience that doesn’t typically prioritize breakthrough design. The response of the Bloomberg design teams has been to reject the tropes and norms of the financial services world and stake out original, often surprising design territory.

Driving the teams of graphics, UX, information, interface, architecture, and product designers is a fierce passion to lead, not follow. They embrace the challenge of clarifying abstract concepts, numbers, and data to keep customers smart. They listen to their customers, iterate, and consistently focus on presenting the proper information in the most user-friendly way possible. And when something is good, the mantra inside Bloomberg’s halls is “Keep making more.”

Tags business product design information design technology