SHOESTRING had the pleasure of working with the Center for Economic Progress in Chicago to develop a brand for a national financial aid education program that was generously funded by the Citi Foundation. What resulted was a creative name and logo, as well as supporting messaging. Shoestring was also contract to design student guide books and a “Coaches Workbook” for the volunteer trainers. Financial Aid U was born and began working on its mission to help hard-working, low-income families move from financial uncertainty to financial security when it came to the student financial aid process.
Through the process, we didn’t just come up with a clever name and logo – we got to know the organization in and out. We delved into their strategic plans, interview key staff/stakeholders with our own proprietary brand survey process which allowed us to learn about past successes and setbacks. Most importantly, we learned their short- and long-term objectives which were then aided through expert strategic communications.
After our branding survey was development and analyzed, we applied key nonprofit brand development principles to create a custom, catchy brand to target students called Financial Aid U with tagline “Smart finances. Successful students.” The “U” serves a double meaning – “university” or “you” (with U being used for “you” in the world of text messaging among the young target audience this works very well). The concept of a financial aid “university” appeals to not only those receiving financial aid, but also for the volunteers who will be trained to provide the services.
Overall, Financial Aid U 2011 was a success. Seven of the 10 FAU programs met or nearly met their required goals. Two of the programs that did not meet their goal actually served the most clients — more than 500 clients each. Students were surveyed on how helpful the services were and responded with the following ratings:
Ninety-two percent of clients who completed the FAFSA were eligible for Pell Grants and had access to an estimated total of more than $22 million in Pell Grants and state aid. They projected that at least 41 percent of the clients served will enroll in college in 2011-2012, and will be awarded approximately $9.3 million in federal and state aid.
Several years later, staff at the Center for Economic Progress reports that they still love the brand and utilize it extensively.