In SMPL Q+A, we interview our practitioners on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. Here, we speak with AnaCristina Tamasese, Kaitlin Smith, Simrit Brar and Thom Wyatt about our work with Minds Matter SoCal. Minds Matter connects driven and determined students from low-income families with the people, preparation and possibilities to succeed in college, create their future and change the world.
Why did Minds Matter SoCal (MMSC) engage Siegel+Gale?
AnaCristina Tamasese: Minds Matter recognized a need for clarity across their brand. They knew what and who they stood for, but didn’t have a clear articulation for everything that it encompassed.
What made this engagement so unique?
ACT: Going into this project, it was clear this work was about the students—past, present and future—and making sure they felt truly seen in every aspect of the brand. Their commitment to their students, and their students’ success, is what made this engagement so unique and exciting to work on. To ensure we hit that mark, we expanded our core Siegel+Gale team to include two MMSC alumni, Vianny Ochoa and Francis Atendido. They partnered with us throughout the project to ideate and refine the brand behind the scenes between our larger team meetings. Their input ensured the story we were crafting was true not only to their lived experiences but also to the future they hoped to see for Minds Matter.
Can you explain the new brand strategy?
Kaitlin Smith: In getting to know the Minds Matter SoCal team, we experienced first-hand the energy and passion within the organization. Not only do they have big ambitions to eliminate systemic inequities and create long-term impact for their students, but they also have the stamina to work towards achieving these goals every day. But, their current brand didn’t reflect their dedication or true impact across individuals, communities and society as a whole.
We also learned about their relentless focus on their students and alumni and how the organization delivers far above and beyond college admissions to provide a community that empowers each individual to grow and unleash their unique potential. To participate in the Minds Matter program, both students and mentors agree to a multi-year, weekly commitment. This degree of commitment to each other is a core part of the program that stands out by recognizing the importance of lifelong relationships just as much as academic success.
The new brand promise, “Igniting individual potential, together” was developed to capture both the organization’s impact on individuals and include a reference to the importance of community and relationships to make it happen. Notably, the promise is infused with the energy and action orientation the organization lives by daily but lacks in how they tell their story to the world.
How does the new brand promise speak to Minds Matter SoCal’s multiple audiences?
KS: The new brand promise was purposefully written to allow all audiences to see themselves in the story. No matter your role or relationship with Minds Matter, from students to teachers and mentors, you can expect to experience both individual growth and a community of people who are alongside you every step of the way.
What was the concept behind the logo & visual identity? Any inspiration you would like to call out?
Simrit Brar: It was really important for the visual identity to speak to the Minds Matter students and our brand promise: “Igniting individual potential, together.” It is bold, expressive, and joyous with a simple, modular system that can be applied easily. It needs to flex and be credible for donors and organizations and resonate with young students’ aspirations. We were inspired by starry skies full of constellations and the idea of imagining a new journey for each student. For centuries, the stars in our sky have been used to tell stories and guide us on new adventures: Minds Matter students are writing their own stories and pursuing new paths every day.
The concept we created looks to capture the unique shapes and stories that make up constellations and apply those to a system that reflects the same individuality and distinct journey of each student and team member. And on a broader level, the concept speaks to the idea of connecting us all. Each colored circle represents a student – connected to each other, their mentors, volunteers and communities – and the power they have to transform their communities over time.
Although we couldn’t change the logo since it would have implications for the larger national organization, it still captures the brand promise exceptionally well. The arches of the lower case “m” and the three circles / heads create a feeling of support and connection that fit the organization and its story.
Brand-led Change + Activation
How is Minds Matter SoCal activating the new brand and why is it such an important milestone for their future?
Thom Wyatt: The beauty of branding is partnering deeply with clients to help simplify, clarify and amplify who they are at their core and the difference they make in the world. With Minds Matter Southern California, when sharing our strategy, voice and messaging and brand identity recommendations, we often heard, “Yes!” In those moments, we knew we’d captured their heart and soul and turned it into a brand that resonates.
And because that happened throughout our journey, our clients were often implementing as we moved along the branding path. One day I received an email from Tina, the MMSC President, simply saying, “I am sitting in our Orange County location doing some work on a grant and am struck by how much of the Siegel+Gale work I use in grants and other communications. Heck, even how I talk about the work we do on our website along with the visuals is all from you/your team!!”
And the brand all came together for their October 27, 2022 gala. It was not only an evening to celebrate the people of MMSC — students, mentors, administrators, parents, partners — but also the new brand experience, including fun gaming, amazing food, the chance to win Super Bowl tickets, and be entertained by 12x Grammy winner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.
Including Minds Matter students and alumni in the branding journey ensured that what matters most was always front and center in the brand’s story. Now bringing the refreshed brand to life across digital, social and events is amplifying their mission and helping to share a better, more inclusive world for all.