Together, we can accomplish more

The Challenge

Great MN Schools (GMS) is a sister organization to the MN Comeback coalition. The GMS brand, marketing and communications needed to compliment those of MN Comeback while clearly articulating the unique role each organization plays in the Minneapolis education ecosystem.

Our Scope of Work

  • Market research and analysis
  • Messaging platform
  • Brand personality and style guidelines
  • Visual identity
  • Website design, content and development

Our Approach

In developing a brand for Great MN Schools, our work united art and science. A data-driven market-research process ensured positioning and messaging were rooted in core audiences’ aspirations. An innovative logo, modern visual language and streamlined website set GMS up for success, including raising millions of dollars.

Great schools ensure success for every child

Great MN Schools

To shape a brand that would be both authentic and aspirational, we began by conducting market research. Through one-on-one interviews with GMS’s most important stakeholders, we captured the unique perspectives held by multiple audiences — including the “reasons to believe” for audiences as diverse as school leaders, strategic partners and multi-million-dollar funders. From there, we shaped unifying themes into a messaging platform that defined GMS’s singular purpose and set the direction for all future marketing and communications.

This process included identifying brand personality traits and tone-of-voice recommendations that would help GMS avoid potential pitfalls. Because GMS embraces a form of investment that is more common within the for-profit sector, for example, we specified that messaging should convey an entrepreneurial spirit while being careful to avoid corporate jargon.

Great MN Schools
New Great MN Schools Logo

With the foundational brand positioning in place, Springboard brought the brand to life in the form of a visual identity. The work of Great MN Schools is rooted in the strong sense of place felt by Minnesotans, and this connection is underscored by the state outline in the logo. In addition, because GMS focuses on data-driven strategic investments, the simple bars that emerge from the outline represent the progress they strive toward. The bright, fresh, modern color palette we selected ties back to their sister organization while still allowing for a distinct identity.

"This truly critical work set me up for success as the CEO of Great MN Schools. It helped me get crystal clear on how to define our work so that I have the key messages I need for the important fundraising work required to succeed. Marissa’s ability to distill down complexity and produce beautiful work will serve Great MN Schools for years to come."
Jennifer Stern, CEO

With the strategic brand positioning work done up front, the process of developing GMS’s website was seamless and quick. In fact, Springboard was able to expedite website development to get it live before a crucial event involving potential funders.

Since then, Great MN Schools has raised more than $2 million, and is on-track to reach $5 million in 2018, to invest in proven and promising schools in Minneapolis.

Website Redesign