Paystubs: From dull to delightful


Jan 11, 2021

When an employee gets paid through Rippling, they receive a paystub via email to let them know. It’s actually a legal requirement. But unlike the typical, utilitarian paystubs from providers like ADP, ours are fun—lighthearted and entertaining, in keeping with our brand philosophy of playfulness.

Typical paystub

It’s not that we don’t take payroll seriously. In fact, it’s the opposite: we see paystubs as a powerful, personal way of connecting with the business leaders and employees who count on Rippling to pay and be paid. We also make sure every stub is compliant with accessibility rules and other legal requirements.

Their pay stubs, not ours

Sure, we make the paystubs. But ultimately they serve as communications from our customers to their employees. So naturally we have to put ourselves in the shoes of both audiences when we’re writing, designing, and animating.

Company owners, chief executives, and other leaders want to be sure that every stub reflects positively and appropriately on their organization. Employees want to receive a fun yet authentic message consistent with their work experience at that moment. Both audiences want to see something that feels credible and trustworthy. It’s up to us to deliver on all of these expectations.

It’s all about listening...

Branding work is inherently iterative. Paystubs are far from an exception. Since introducing our particular variety in 2020, it’s been a continuous loop of feedback and refinement. We take every compliment and concern into consideration. Here’s a sampling:

A harmlessly encouraging message, it seemed. Well, not to the business owner, who had been forced to cut pay due to the pandemic. This was the sharpest reminder yet that we need to think deeply about who’s receiving a paystub—and under what circumstances.

Silly and cute! That is, until you start getting questions like, “Is he suffocating?” and “Why can’t he get out of the leaves?” Arguably minor, but enough to get us to rework the stub for next year.

When we paystubbed a juicy burger, we were worried the vegetarians and vegans would take issue. To our surprise, no negative reactions at all! You really never know—which is why we always listen, and why we’re usually ready with a plant-based alternative.

Sidebar: Company administrators always have the option to turn paystub images off. We do our best to meet every customer’s needs, but we understand if the playfulness doesn't match a particular culture.

It’s payday. Eggstraodinary!

It's payday. How sweet it is.

It’s payday. Out of this world!

It's payday, you superhero.

It’s payday. Sweet dill!

It's payday. Shake your tail!

...and a repeatable process

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we have fun turning ideas into animations. It’s a pretty crisp process:

We* get together (virtually), identify which months need stubs (or stub refinements), and riff together. Any reference to money is immediately dismissed as a bad idea.

*   Jen Williams, Sr. Creative Producer
   Nick Wiesner, Executive Creative Director
   Mike Peart, Writer
   Jonathan Corriveau, Illustration & Animation

Once we narrow things down and crystalize our concepts, we start pencil-sketching the visuals and writing the one-liners.

Then on to color sketches

Then initial renderings to nail down dimensions, movement, shadows, and such.

Finally we animate and ship

Time to sit back (not really) and wait for reactions from our customers (really).

last edited: April 26, 2023

The Author

Nick Wiesner

VP of Brand

As Head of Brand, Nick applies nearly 15 years of experience to guide brand expression across marketing, comms, products, events, social media, and employee engagement. His global creative team ranges from designers and writers to animators and web developers.