Northwestern University is one of the country’s most elite institutions, known for its many diverse strengths. And that created a daunting challenge: how do you develop a singular story for a school that’s known for so much?
When the university was founded in 1851, it was named for its location in the Northwest Territory. Even though the name no longer stands for a corner of a map, we used it to illustrate a common mindset. By defining the “Northwestern direction” not in terms of physical routes, but as an approach that guides students from one milestone to the next, we gave the university the perfect platform to talk about its many success stories.
Drawing on the strategy and identity work, we created a video to illustrate just what a Northwestern Direction means, starring a standout student.
We developed a new, custom wordmark that evoked the heritage of the university’s previous logo, but takes a more modern approach. We then established intuitive guidelines so the logo could be simplified and scaled, and elements could be added and subtracted as needed.
Northwestern’s viewbook, like many, was cluttered with information that was easy to get online. We significantly simplified the content and added visual interest to paint a dramatic picture of the school for prospective students.
From the beginning of the project, Northwestern’s digital presence was top of mind. In close collaboration with the university, we designed and built the top-level and undergraduate admissions sites, with a completely user-centered approach.
As an extension of our work with Northwestern, we developed a robust sub-brand for the McCormick School of Engineering, including a distinct messaging strategy, voice, and design language. We then brought these elements to life in a new viewbook for the school.