I asked lemon.markets the ins and outs of building a brand in the fintech sector. And other stuff

From getting downright annoyed by a €10 commission fee to building a fintech startup. I catch up with Max Linden – the brain behind lemon.markets.

Domi Baszko
Memelord Shitposter

Our journey with lemon.markets has been quite a ride. We went from playing football together to redesigning their website. Their mission is to grow investing opportunities by providing companies with the technical and regulatory infrastructure to launch investment products via their brokerage API. As they recently transitioned to a B2B model, they approached us to revamp their website, ensuring it caters effectively to the needs of their new target audience. Seizing this opportunity, we sat down with Max Linden, the Chief Enablement Officer, also known as the Founder and CEO of lemon.markets. Our talk covered the design challenges, their future plans, and the key elements essential for building a strong brand in the fintech industry.

tonik: Let's start with the early days of lemon.markets, what inspired you to kickstart this venture?

Max Linden: The inspiration behind launching lemon.markets stemmed from a pivotal experience in 2018 when I invested my first €500. To make this investment, I had to pay a €10 commission fee, which not only seemed excessively high (relative to my initial investment) but also discouraged further investments. And keep in mind, this issue is even more pronounced for those who want to start with smaller sums. This frustration I experienced created an urge to change the status quo. As I started to dig deeper, I found that the majority of the cost came from outdated, manual processes that happened after the initial investment. Despite a smooth user experience on the frontend, I realized how broken the rails in the back of the investing process are. To solve this issue, we are developing a highly automated, scalable, and digital infrastructure that enables fintechs, banks, and wealth managers to offer investing opportunities to their customers. We're essentially building modern rails for the next generation of investment products. Our goal is to abstract complexity for our partners, allowing them to focus on creating the best customer experience. With the pension gap widening in Europe, and ongoing inflation, it is especially important to privately manage long-term finances. That’s also why we believe that every person should get the opportunity to invest in capital markets. Together with our partners, we want to support this change, by co-creating a variety of investment products that deliver delightful customer experiences.

t: What were some of the initial challenges you encountered, concerning branding and design?

M: The first step was selecting a name, and fortunately, we picked something that was already visually appealing enough to serve as the core of our brand. Next, we had to create a visual identity. Of course, we needed to incorporate lemons in some way, shape, or form. Those initial considerations allowed us to build a foundation for our brand. In the early days, this meant abstract, playful, and colorful design, speaking to a very technical target group. From there, we established a baseline for representing ourselves across all our touchpoints. Branding was (and still is) a priority for us. I firmly believe in the importance of having a strong, clear brand, which speaks through the quality of its design and transcends into the perception partners and customers have of our product. It is no coincidence that branding is one of the 7 Powers of Business, according to Hamilton Helmer. (note ed.: read more here).

t: You have recently transitioned from B2C to B2B. How did it affect your brand and communication?

M: Shifting from B2C to B2B meant we now have to speak to a more diverse group of stakeholders and, in turn, cater to different needs with our brand. Our first step was to focus on aligning our image with the kind of authentic relationships we want to build with our partners. This led us to adopt a clean, elevated style that reflects the professionalism and expertise we bring to the table in every partnership we forge. At the same time, it was also crucial for our brand updates to retain a touch of vibrancy through color and motion, giving it a fresh twist (like a lemon). This approach also applies to how we evolved in the way we communicate. We aimed to maintain our unique identity while ensuring that our new target audience views us as the reliable business partner they want to have on their side, especially for such a crucial aspect of financial infrastructure.

t: What is the most important when building a brand within the fintech sector?

M: In fintech, when you're handling and safeguarding other people's money or assets, as we will, trust is the most important value to focus on. It's all about ensuring that what you communicate is what you deliver, and repeating this process across all touchpoints. This consistent approach sends a clear message to the other person and helps to build trust over time. There are three things to keep in mind: leverage the trust of established institutions like investors or providers that you work with, be transparent, so people can understand how you do what you do, show up with compassion, and deep knowledge to create special experiences (this doesn’t scale, but serves us well).

t: Having worked with a design studio, what advice would you give to other startup founders?

M: One major tip I'd share is that to achieve incredible things, you've got to be crystal clear about what you want and find a way to get that across. While a design studio can deliver high-quality work, you've got to remember they might not get as deep into your business as an in-house designer would. So, it's all about over-communicating to keep everyone on the same page and make the process of delivering feedback as smooth as possible. My advice would be to look for design partners who vibe with your style and bring the right energy to the table. For lemon.markets, it meant teaming up with a group of pragmatic people, focused on delivering top-notch results together, and open to iterating on our feedback on eye level, without getting stuck on technicalities. This led us to tangible, high-quality outcomes that are visible to the outside world. At the end of the day, as a startup, it's not your style guide that people remember; it's the experience they have with your website and your pitch deck that sticks, right?

t: That’s true! So, what does the future hold for you in 2024 and beyond?

M: Our goal for early 2024 is to wrap up the first chapter in our journey by successfully onboarding our first partner and bringing our infrastructure live. This will be the pinnacle of all the hard work that our entire team has put in, and I am extremely proud of all their efforts. Thereafter, I'm excited to see what the next year has in store! It will be more fun as we step into full operation, engaging with even more partners as well as their customers, and taking on a fresh set of challenges. With our launch, we aim to make a big splash, creating awareness with fitTechs, banks, and wealth managers for the opportunities our platform can offer them and their customers. Our vision is to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the brokerage space and continue our mission of growing investing opportunities. Ultimately, this is pretty much our 50-year plan. All of this gets me really fired up for the upcoming years, and I am very curious to see what we design over that journey!


Infinite scroll connoisseur, secretly a social media detox advocate. Hobbies include: writing down random copy at 3 am, running, procrastinating.

Domi Baszko
Memelord Shitposter
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