Student Connections Branding

A Student-Centered Experience


Headquartered in Indianapolis, Student Connections partners with students and academic experts nationwide to develop engaging tools and solutions that provide students with individualized support before, during and after college. Student Connections helps position students for success in school and beyond so that they can realize the lifetime of opportunity promised by higher education.



A Fresh Start

Although the Student Connections brand officially launched in mid-2016, its roots run much deeper. It is an affiliate of Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds), a nonprofit organization with more than five decades of experience serving higher education institutions and their students. Student Connections faced the unique challenge of creating its own identity—from logo to workspace to culture —while retaining historically valuable traits of its parent organization.

Meanwhile, the organization was building out a product line that would expand its audience beyond its traditional focus on student loan default prevention. Since those new products were and still are in the process of being built and iterated on, the brand and website needed to be agile and scalable. Throw in an already competitive market, and there was much to tackle! 

Creating a new brand also gave us the opportunity to establish a new culture. We combined a solid foundation of industry experience with a fresh start in a new, tech-driven company. Because our success depends on being a preferred workplace for employees and a preferred partner for customers, we strive to maintain this connection in our culture and in the new branding that reflects it.
Elizabeth Brandes, Vice President of Marketing, Student Connections
Elizabeth Brandes, Vice President of Marketing, Student Connections


Getting Conceptual

Competitor analysis revealed a crowded marketplace with room for improvement. Most competitors used cool and muted colors, which encouraged us to choose a warmer, more inviting color scheme to stand out. Along with a modern color scheme, we focused on very human imagery to appeal to students and educators alike. 

And because the Student Connections brand needed to represent a range of products that didn’t exist yet, we were sure to plan for and future-proof everything from naming strategy to website hierarchy and design. For example, we hit on a timeline and mapmarker visual metaphor that worked across branding and website content. The homepage would include a prominent timeline component to quickly communicate products and intended audiences.

Finally, it was crucial that we work within the parent organization's systems to ensure a smooth transition for the new Student Connections brand—one that could leverage existing data and assets. With that in mind, we adapted a modern design to fit an existing .NET infrastructure and CMS, folding in existing blog content and complementing a Microsoft's Dynamics CRM.


Making the Grade

With an emphasis on differentiating key elements of the brand—messaging, tone, visual style—Student Connections was ready to make their mark in a competitive market. From the modern to visual styles and standards, the organization now had scalable tools to help it stay focused on growth.  

Beyond the web, the new brand came to life at the Student Connections HQ through variations of the logo, coloring and other brand traits prominently featured throughout the building. This focus on brand experience, along with thoughtful spatial layout, is helping Student Connections align its team around its core mission: promoting student success.

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