Case Study

Southwestern
A digital brand
for the future of education

A brand and digital experience overhaul for Texas' oldest, and most progressive liberal arts college. 

Southwestern University has a rich history, a unique perspective on career paths of the future, and progressive views on education. In an effort to better tell this story, SU approached Handsome to conduct contextual user research among past, present and potential future students, their families, faculty, and competitive schools. The insights gleaned from these conversations were used to create the framework for the new brand image, core values, and messaging.

Our journey with Southwestern began through the development of a shared understanding of SU's core beliefs, current practices, and future goals. It was important for us to understand what is was truly like to attend Southwestern and to gain a sense of how alumni viewed their experiences as a whole. This exercise was vital to ensure brand integrity and authenticity. We framed these findings into different value propositions and tested them with users at various stages in the process of searching for and applying to colleges. This resulted in a clear direction for the brand messaging and helped to define priorities among prospective students and their families.

Southwestern Style Guide
Southwestern Marketing Site

One of the biggest challenges in re-designing the website was finding a way to serve relevant content to a wide range of user types. Southwestern had an abundance of valuable content that was buried in the different departmental sites and difficult to navigate to. To make this content more easily accessible, we conducted an in depth site audit and organized the content into groupings based on intention. We used this to frame a unique, dynamic navigation structure geared towards the different user types.

Accessibility was a key focus throughout the engagement. It was crucial to establish a design language that was both delightful, easy to navigate, and built with the capacity to adapt to the needs of dozens of different departments. We created an editorial look and feel for the new Southwestern, using bold text as a graphic element and generous use of white space. This aesthetic bridged the gap between the historical richness of the school and their future forward outlook on education.

Southwestern Logo
Southwestern student in Fine Arts class
Southwestern Brand Marks
Southwestern Emblem Photo
SU Crest + emblem

Two versions of the crest were created to address different usage needs.

Elevating the brand experience.

Redesigning the university website was just the beginning of SU's digital transformation. Phase 2 will leverage technology to create 360 video tours, augmented reality acceptance letters, and virtual reality classroom experiences. Serving education for tomorrow, today.

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