Case Study

One Degree

For our first Brand Hack, Boston World Partnerships connected us to One Degree, a social enterprise leveraging cultural and technological advancements—like user reviews, social networking, and big data—to make social services more effective.


Brand Hack cofounder Ben Spear and investor Jay Sun led a discussion with One Degree’s founders, Rey Faustino and Karla Monterroso (above), and their part­ner Phan Huynh, about the organization’s ori­gins, world vision, and business model. We helped them identify their main goals:

  1. Secure finan­cial invest­ment.
  2. Attract a devoted user base, com­prised of both social ser­vice end-users and the com­mu­nity lead­ers that will use the sys­tem as a back end.
  3. Generate big data that lead­ing phil­an­thropic foun­da­tions will pur­chase to help guide their giv­ing decisions.
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We then built a brand promise spanning these considerations, something to satisfy One Degree's immediate goals and long-term viability. Drawing on the three key signifiers in the promise—access, participation, and strength—we began thinking about a visual identity that is accessible, friendly, and open yet reliable. 

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Using lowercase demys­ti­fies the product, and moves the empha­sis away from tech­nol­ogy, lowering the psychological barrier to entry for One Degree's users.

Our sec­ond important decision choice was to use a script—this gives the iden­tity a sense of child-like sim­plic­ity, and con­jures One Degree’s prin­ci­pal use-case set­ting: schools. We knew we needed play­ful, bounc­ing loops and a uni­form stroke weight to anonymize the hand and com­mu­ni­cate that this sys­tem is for every­one.

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Once we had approval on the basic mark, around 1:30p, we moved on to color—focusing on a sooth­ing but strong blue to fur­ther rein­force the system’s ease-of-use with a cream background to fur­ther human­ize the identity.

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Meanwhile, Brand Hack cofounder Allana Taranto created professional portraits for the team's LinkedIn profiles and press releases.

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We then started apply­ing the iden­tity to their stated list of high-priority deliv­er­ables:

  1. PDF brochure
  2. Printed brochure
  3. Busi­ness cards
  4. Single-page web­site (which has since been expanded to a larger site)
  5. HTML email tem­plate.

While we had been sketch­ing, Allana and Zach worked with their exist­ing copy, giv­ing it a con­sis­tent voice in line with their vision.

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One Degree has grown rapidly since their Brand Hack, earning a mention in The Huffington Post and the SXSW Dewey Winburne Community Service Award.

"The Brand Hack is branding on steroids. In the morning, One Degree was a complicated idea. By the end of the day, this team breathed life into it, then put it in a three-piece suit."

Phan Huynh, Cofounder