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Forging organizational identity with smart design

Case Study

College Advising Corps

Briteweb August 16, 2015

Communicating the impact of an organization to a group of national stakeholders is no easy feat. Capturing the very heart and soul of a group of incredible advisors whose stories, when woven together, shine bright light on the originality of their work, is even harder.  

 

The Challenge

College Advising Corps (CAC) is a national nonprofit that works to increase the number of first-generation college going, low-income, and/or underrepresented high school students who  apply, enter, and complete higher education. They place well-trained, recent college graduates as full-time college advisers in some of the most underserved communities in the United States.

From navigating the college admissions maze, to securing SAT/ACT fee waivers and assisting students and their families with FAFSA applications, their advisers become experts, mentors, champions, and guides. It’s not hyperbole to say that they change the lives of the students they serve.

When CAC came to us in 2014, they had an incredible inventory of stories to share with their network of advisers, students, and funding partners. Unfortunately, their outdated and archaic CMS was holding up the process. They had also acquired a shiny, new logo and were eager to have our creative team build out an art direction for their brand identity that was clean and modern.

As an organization, CAC approaches serious work with passion, ingenuity, and grace; our team had to make sure that their new website told their story and expressed their unique identity to all stakeholders. Our challenge was empowering them to bring their stories to life through a streamlined and flexible CMS, while building on their new logo and designing a site that was both sophisticated and fun – and we did just that!

Our Approach

To really get a sense of their work, members from our team flew to the College Advising Corps Adviser Conference in San Antonio. We met with advisers from schools all over the country and learned about their community, goals, and overall vision for the organization. Hearing the personal stories of the Advisers was fascinating and highly impactful on a personal level. These young changemakers had been through incredible diversity to get where they are today and showed the same commitment toward creating the same opportunities for the students they served.

After listening to hundreds of stories full of victories and defeats, we knew we were up for the challenge of making a website that was worthy of communicating their incredible organization to the world.

Armed with a new logo, and not much else in terms of design collateral, we started by engaging in extensive market research. This process involved analyzing competitor content, design, and UX/UI  and culminated in the development of mood boards to help CAC visualize the potential of their new brand.

One of the first steps to achieving this was creating complementary color palettes and typographic treatments that were specific to a web-design application. From a design perspective, this meant pairing vibrant and sophisticated blues with neutral grey tones to soften the palette to achieve the sleek, spacious look in the layout. Typography was based on its beauty and functionality. Our creative research showed that a broad sans-serif family, Supria Sans, works great online and has a friendly character, while the Playfair Display added a touch of formality.

Throughout the process, we encouraged the active participation and input of the CAC team. From wireframes, to prototypes, to art direction, and design, we ensured that their voices were heard. Together, we decided upon a direction that we all felt was reflective of their organization’s evolution and then set about actually building their new site from the ground up.

 

  • Inspiration for CAC's typography

  • Design of CAC's landing pages.

  • Unique interactive map and statistics blocks.

The Result

Inspired by their engaging and energetic community, we were able to take their vision and build a website the team at Briteweb then took that vision and built a site that is story-centric, and communicates the extraordinary impact this organization has on the life of young college-bound Americans. Their new website is clean and sophisticated, while keeping the versatility and personality that made up the many faces of CAC’s organization.  And we have to be honest, we think it’s pretty great!

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