Brandcenter partners with Lighthouse Labs
A spinal implant developed to treat scoliosis.
Book club management software.
A personal saving platform.
These are just a few of the business ventures Brandcenter students worked on this semester through a partnership with Lighthouse Labs, a nonprofit business accelerator that provides mentoring, business planning resources, and funding for promising new businesses. The project allowed second year students to work in cross-functional teams within their Brand Experiences course, developing everything from new brand identities to in-person activations.
Lighthouse Labs helps business founders develop their companies in just three months using $20,000 in no-strings-attached seed funding. Twice a year, the lab welcomes a new cohort of businesses from across the country, helping each founder complete product testing and expand their market with guidance from investors, mentors, and industry experts.
Developing a strong, cohesive brand for the company “often gets the short end of the stick,” says Ali Greenberg, outreach manager at Lighthouse Labs. “It is rare that early founding teams have invested heavily in branding or marketing, as they often are mostly subject matter experts in their industry of focus, not brand managers. Partnering with the Brandcenter gave our founders not only the A-Team of creative talent, but also helped them think bigger about the business they are building.”
The Brandcenter teams first received initial reference materials and got a virtual download of the companies and their specific needs. They then worked directly with the founders to learn more about their work, their goals, and their pain points. After collecting their research, the teams had six weeks to produce the work they recommended and present in early October.
“What resulted was of unparalleled quality; we had founders in tears during the final presentations,” says Greenberg. “The Brandcenter students embodied the startup mentality and dove in wholeheartedly to work alongside our founders to shine a light not only on their hard work so far, but to light the path ahead for the company in years to come.”
“Our students approached this project humanistically and incrementally,” says Jordan Childs, creative brand management professor at the Brandcenter. Childs teaches the course Brand Experiences and partnered with Lighthouse Labs. “The crews built their recommendations from the ground up. The process started by defining the vision, identifying the shared, human truth, and identifying very small or often overlooked audiences. The deliverables combined thinking small in terms of relationships, and cosmic in terms of where these brands could potentially grow. What was most impressive was how crews from different class sections merged their thinking into a single, cohesive client deliverable in the final week.”
Below are just three of the client projects:
Icarus Medical is an emerging healthcare brand that produces form-fitting, 3D-scanned knee braces tailored to each patient. Students Sharon Byun (XD, 2021), Meghan Callaghan (AD, 2021), Camden Dechert (AD, 2021), Laura Gardner (CW, 2021), Dominik Hofacker (XD, 2021), Paige Majdic (CBM, 2021), and Payal Pereira (ST, 2021) sought to combat the negative stigmas around medical braces by positioning the brand as being “in the business of movement.” With that approach, they appealed to the “tactical athlete”—a person who strategically uses their body to accomplish their personal and professional goals. Specifically, the team targeted veterans as a commonly overlooked demographic that embodied the tactical athlete ideal.
The Brandcenter team developed a brand identity and launch campaign designed to introduce Icarus Medical to veterans, earn their trust, and position itself as a tool rather than a crutch. Their work included developing a mission statement, color palette, tone and design guidelines, print and out-of-home advertising, social media content, and an obstacle course event.
From the client: "You knocked it out of the park. I am blown away."
Lumastic is a digital platform that seeks to build a community of creators, problem-solvers, and entrepreneurs and help them realize their dreams. Students Grant Bauley (AD, 2021), Kimberly Burgess (CMB, 2021), Madeline Guzzo (AD, 2021), Emilee Lampert (CBM, 2021), Brian Siepka (ST, 2021), Courtney Tibbetts (CW, 2021), and Marshal Turner (XD, 2021) drew inspiration from Lumastic’s core beliefs: Failure has a purpose, good feedback is creative kerosine, and dreamers must also be doers but that doing cannot be done alone.
The rebranding process for this “creator-centric” platform included brand guidelines (color palette, tone recommendations, and logo redesign and animation), communication content to align with the new branding (Mailchimp template, Pinterest ads, and Instagram Stories), and a new user experience design for Lumastic’s website, drafted and executed by Marshal Turner (XD, 2021), Dennis Liu (XD, 2021), and Angel Song (CBM, 2021).
From the client: "I am overwhelmed with how poignant and seen I feel. You really got us and you should be very, very proud. I have been living this for three years and I have never articulated it as well as you all have done."
MindCotine is a wellness brand and platform that uses virtual reality (VR) to help people quit smoking. It primarily sells its products to health insurance companies and corporations as part of employee wellness programs. Students Marnie Abraham (ST, 2021), Leon Brewington (CBM, 2021), Chris Cole (AD, 2021), Will Curtis (CW, 2021), Kara Kummer (AD, 2021), Gabriela Olivera (XD, 2021), and Kate Power (CW, 2021) saw that MindCotine focused its messaging around its product’s benefit to employers, rather than its benefit to employees. With that insight, they developed a ground-up campaign strategy that began with the employees. Their goal was to clearly communicate MindCotine’s power to improve individuals' well-being and help users understand what that looks like in a VR environment.
The students developed brand guidelines and a communication plan for MindCotine (which targeted employees) and brand guidelines for MindyHealth— MindCotine’s parent brand. MindyHealth’s brand guidelines included a logo redesign, color palette, voice and tone recommendations, and social media content.
From the client: "This is the most accurate interpretation of our brand that we've gotten from any agency."
To learn more about Lighthouse Labs, visit lighthouselabsrva.com.