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Digital Inquiry Group

Understanding Our Past and Navigating Our Present to Build a Better Future

Founded by Professor Sam Wineburg in 2002, Stanford History Education Group was a national leader in history education curricula and digital literacy tools that help K-12 teachers and students make better sense of our past and navigate our digital present. Twenty years and 14 million curriculum downloads later, “SHEG” was primed to become an independent nonprofit. And at the forefront of their minds was navigating how to balance standing on their own with a new name and mission while carrying forward two decades of brand value and credibility connected to their Stanford roots. That’s when Digital Inquiry Group—AKA “DIG”—engaged Constructive to help launch them into a new era. Together, we established DIG with its own brand identity and a broader mission to strengthen American democracy beyond K-12 classrooms by helping citizens be more informed, engaged, and empowered.

Research & Assessment

Adding Perspective to Define DIG’s Impact & Chart Their Theory of Change

To paint a complete picture of DIG’s brand ecosystem, we first needed to understand their relationships with key stakeholders: an array of educators, administrators, and researchers. After digging into SHEG’s mission, history and their work, we embarked on a series of internal and external stakeholder interviews. Throughout them, two themes became abundantly clear. First was a brand with tremendous equity and a reputation as the leader in its space. Second was that to know DIG’s resources was to love them. And, as Stanford History Education Group, DIG played a transformative role in educators’ lives as a driving force for activating change in students’ minds. Once we completed our research and assessment, everyone was aligned and ready to create a strategy to focus how DIG’s message and branding would engage audiences with the new brand and their mission.

Brand Strategy

A Brand Built on Brand Value & A Vision for Greater Impact

With our research and assessment providing clarity on the context in which DIG would be established as a brand, we moved into translating insights into a focused strategy. We started by leading participatory strategy workshops to create a collaborative space for DIG’s team and ours to explore ideas for how the new brand would be positioned and what it would be known for. First, we focused on defining the future for the brand—detailed descriptions of DIG’s aspirations for deeper engagement and increased impact, especially through greater digital discernment online. We defined audience needs and goals to surface what’s meaningful to them and how DIG creates value. And we defined brand values, differentiators, and attributes to inform how the brand will show up in the world. And after synthesizing the workshop outputs, we created a Strategy Brief that established core brand themes and laid the foundation for the brand work that would make these ideas tangible.

Logo Design

Visually Expressing the Mission to Help People “Dig Deeper”

In designing the DIG brand, we wanted to create a memorable mark that both reflected the organization’s roots in rigorous research and academia while also evoking the openness and forward-thinking principles that guide the organization. Our design strategy focused on ideas that visually represented the brand’s mission to help people better understand our past and present by “digging deeper.” DIG also wanted to preserve some of their Stanford brand equity by creating an evolution of their longstanding logo. And we needed to resolve a tension between DIG’s roots in traditional history education and their newer focus on digital literacy. Our solution was a logo that re-imagines the open book concept of SHEG’s logo—transforming it into a more modern mark that modifies the static book into an icon that digs deeper and is a fountain of knowledge. 

Visual Identity

Creating a Design System to Carry DIG’s Brand Forward

Next, we expanded DIG’s new logo into a robust identity design system that serves as the foundation for every visual expression of their brand. We established brand typography standards, brand color combinations, graphic treatments, and photography styles that provide the toolkit for designing all communications. And to ensure that DIG’s new design system would work when applied to their array of existing print and digital materials, we stress tested and refined it as we created the full suite of DIG’s print and digital collateral throughout the project. Once completed, we then created detailed brand guidelines with specifications and recommendations that make it easy to create cohesive, on-brand communications in any medium or venue.

Brand Positioning & Messaging

A New Messaging Platform that Articulates DIG’s Story

DIG is an organization on a mission to strengthen American democracy by preparing people to make sense of our past and navigate the digital present. Alongside visual identity design, our Brand Team translated the ideas in DIG’s new strategy into a full articulation of their brand narrative and vision for the future. Included is a new mission statement, brand values, audiences, organizational roles, and differentiators. Taken together, the comprehensive messaging platform defines every aspect of who DIG is, what they do, how they do it, why it matters, and how they show up in the world—and provides DIG with the framework and tools they need to embody their brand ideas—as people, in communications, and through the experiences that they create.

Website Design

Quickly Getting DIG’s Online Home Ready for Visitors

In launching DIG, the group was under a mandate to transition away from SHEG in just a few short months from the start of our engagement. So, to set them up for success online in the immediate term and save budget for a more strategic website redesign post-launch, we led an agile re-skinning of the old SHEG website, preserving it’s structure and all of its content—particularly its library of widely used open-access downloadable resources, curricula, and videos. The result is a brand-aligned branded website that still feels familiar to those who knew the organization as SHEG to help bridge the brand transition—and one that introduces new audiences to DIG and what they do.

Curricular Collateral

Giving Educators the Tools They Need to Help Students Dig Deeper

Key to DIG’s theory of change is the organization’s educator resources: curricula, lesson plans, exercises, presentation decks, and more. With more than 14 million downloads, use in all 50 states, and several national education awards, DIG’s core curricula, such as Reading Like a Historian, Civic Online Reasoning, and Beyond the Bubble, needed to align with the organization’s new brand as well. Working with the DIG team to identify and rebrand key assets, we sought to equip the organization with the tools needed to share their new brand in a way that reinforced their branding and prioritized the content that teachers across the country rely on. Together, we created a library of the most frequently used DIG resources for the team to use in this new chapter of their organization’s history. 

Social Media

Preparing DIG for Launch & Expanded Brand Impact

Like most nonprofits, DIG speaks to several key audiences with different interests, needs, and questions. To speak to these audiences and to build community amongst them, we created a library of social media, newsletter, and announcement templates for the team. Given the delicate nature of transitioning from SHEG to DIG and their outstanding brand equity, we also charted a brand launch plan to meet audiences where they were and bring them along for the next chapter in the organization’s history. With newsletters, branded assets, social posts, and real photos of DIG’s educator-partners, we set DIG up to deepen their existing relationships while opening the organization up to even more impact.

Our Client's Experience

“When we first contacted Constructive, we had a daunting task in front of us: branding our new organization as we spun out of Stanford University after more than two decades and making sure that our loyal users understood the transition. The Constructive team was up to the task. They helped us with a messaging strategy, created a beautiful new logo, and redesigned our website. They were responsive, adaptable, and kind. We’re thrilled with the final products and have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from our users. We made the right choice when we picked Constructive to undertake this project for us.”

Joel Breakstone, Executive Director - Digital Inquiry Group
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