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:
- Secure financial investment.
- 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.
- Generate big data that leading philanthropic foundations will purchase to help guide their giving decisions.
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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, Brand Hack cofounder Allana Taranto created professional portraits for the team's LinkedIn profiles and press releases.
We then started applying the identity to their stated list of high-priority deliverables:
- PDF brochure
- Printed brochure
- Business cards
- Single-page website (which has since been expanded to a larger site)
- 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.
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