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What do raising a child and refreshing a brand have in common? Both take a village.
Twelve months, 26 interviews, and lots of lessons later, our community worked together to create a brighter brand—one that reflects our love for design, people, and nature.


A brand has personality and perspective.
It evokes an emotional response.
It carries core values and a belief system.
It has favorite colors.
It attracts a tribe.

In short, a brand is a living, breathing system that is more than just a logo. Being a design-centered organization—colorful sticky notes are literally everywhere—we value the creative process and the power of a strong brand. We felt our new brand could do a better job of reflecting this affinity for design.


When you decide to evolve a brand with deep community roots, connecting with stakeholders is essential.


An organization is only as strong as its culture. And, we’ve come to find out, culture is strongly informed by brand. Understanding our team’s motivations for being an EcoRise employee helped us evolve the brand to reflect their unique perspectives.

Through a series of interviews and lots of synthesis, we saw an opportunity to formalize our values in order to claim our higher purpose and align organizational goals. This brought us to our first lesson: Create a set of core values.


We hold our teachers in such high regard that understanding their relationship to EcoRise’s brand was very important. Yes, we wanted to understand their overall experience with EcoRise, but we also wanted to uncover their motivation for teaching. Teaching, as we all know, is tough. Understanding why teachers teach revealed a rich layer of information.

We discovered that teachers are most inspired when their students
ask informed questions and show a sense of curiosity.
That’s where the magic is.

In observing our teachers interact with EcoRise’s online platform, we noticed a sense of confusion. Too many buttons and too much jargon raised questions. You never want to confound your users, so this brought us to our second lesson: Simplify the user experience. If teachers’ primary goal is to inspire their students, then it’s our job to make their lives as easy as possible.


Huddled around a small table at Akins High School library, we convened four students enrolled in Ms. Gahan’s science course. We passed around our enamel pin, which bears no name, just our colorful leaf symbol. We asked them how it made them feel, what they thought it symbolized. To them, the colorfulness represented a diverse array of people coming from the same root. In other words, we are all different but the same. Beautiful.

This brought us to our third lesson: Keep the brand colorful.


To truly design from the inside out, you must be rooted in the thing. Once you start to live and breathe it, you can start to build a perspective.

per·spec·tive (n): a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

So how did we come to our point of view? We looked at the data:

  • Values help clarify purpose.
  • Simplicity is important to our users.
  • Colorfulness is a key ingredient to illustrate who we are and what we offer.

We took these data points and crafted brand traits—a set of adjectives that describe what we are against what we are not:

With our unique perspective in hand, we entered the design phase with a strong foundation.


A brand is powerful when it’s recognizable without the logo—when the angle of a photograph, stroke of a line, or pairing of colors shouts your personality. Using our traits as our guide, we infused throughout the brand experience:

In illustrations—imperfect yet simple lines communicate our clean and colorful identity.

In photographs—bright colors, spacious skies, and upward angles emphasize our rising voice.

And in our logo—an evolution of the original with brighter colors, bolder type, and cleaner strokes.

So, as you can see, brand building takes a village. Now we invite you—our community—to be a brand ambassador by sharing this story far and wide.


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