Each spring Mount St. Joseph University students in the GRD356: Brand Identity Design course partner with a non-profit organization to provide it with market research and branding materials. The spring semester of 2018 marks the fifth consecutive year of the project for this course.
The students, who are juniors majoring in graphic design, have the chance to build relationships with the companies as well as provide them with the branding assistance they need. “It’s a great opportunity to get real-world experience,” says junior graphic design student Nick Sjulin, “as well as to share our talent with others.”
In the past, the class has served organizations such as Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, Green Umbrella, Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, and Theresa’s Research Foundation. This year, the class partnered with the organization Healthy Moms and Babes, an outreach ministry dedicated to providing health services to mothers and infants in need through mobile units and home visits. Sister Tricia Cruise is the president and CEO of the company, as well as a member of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
Mount St. Joseph University Assistant Professor Kurt Grannan began the project five years ago as a way of incorporating service opportunities into teaching the class about brand strategy. He was not seeing full development of the students’ grasp of branding, and how branding decisions must be based on the company’s analytics and data, such as market and target audience. Grannan began to seek out organizations in need throughout Cincinnati, for many of whom this design and branding assistance would typically be financially unachievable.
“The experience is unfamiliar to the students at first,” says Grannan, “but it is a basic, yet solid process. The hardest part is figuring out how data plays a role in design choices. The designs must supply a feeling of intuition and trust based on the information collected.”
The students have been looking at several aspects of the company’s brand, including their mission statement, logo, brochures, vehicle wraps, and website. Throughout the semester, the students will give two to three presentations to the client in which they break down the rebranding process. “The students are learning to organize their thoughts and present changes based on the company’s best interests,” says Grannan, “It is a way to use their field skills to give back to the community.”