Redesigning the Stanford Athletics Brand

Fall of 2014, out of 200+ total applicants, I was lucky enough to be one of four undergraduate students accepted into an intensive, two-week Stanford GSB and d.school course, "Building Innovative Brands," taught by Jennifer Aaker and Chris Flink of IDEO.

The Challenge

"Building Innovative Brands" was an advanced, two-week deep-dive into branding design. It involved an assortment of d.school design thinking workshops and storytelling exercises, guest speaker sessions (with Virgin America and eBay CMOs), and branding design lectures on transgressions in branding, image/identity gap analysis, and more, by Chris Flink and Jennifer Aaker.

Throughout the two weeks, students were ultimately faced with the challenge of reinventing the branding wheel for Stanford Athletics, specifically the underrepresented Stanford Men's Basketball Team. We were tasked with designing creative marketing campaigns and ploys to attract Stanford students to Men's Basketball games, culminating with a minute-long video segment that could be played in Maples Pavilion on the Jumbotron to engage spectators in the event. 

Our Design Process

As a third-year undergrad, I joined a team consisting of three Stanford MBA students: Matt Cano, Daniela Fernandez, and Mai Lu. Together, the four of us set off on our design journey:

Through extensive interviewing and empathy research (including developing an Emotional Experience Map, as shown below), we discovered a central theme underlying the Stanford Athletics Brand that we felt was being underutilized in the branding of the Stanford Men's Basketball Team: #NerdNation.

Emotional Experience Map for a Stanford student at a Men's Basketball Game in the present

We branded ourselves as "Team Nerdentity" and set off on a mission to re-invent and re-define for Stanford students what it truly meant to be a part of "Nerd Nation," specifically bringing it back full circle to the Men's Basketball Team.

We only had two days to create our Jumbotron spot video, so we acted on our feet and dove into rapid-fire stages of scheduling, filming, editing, and refining footage for our presentation. 

On Friday, October 3rd, 2014, we gave our Final Presentation in the Stanford GSB for our class of 44 students, teaching team, and about 20 esteemed guests and clients directly involved in the management of the Stanford Athletics and Men's Basketball Team Brand.

First, we presented a tri-fold marketing campaign that would engage students at three different points in their game experience: pre-game, during the game, and post-game. One of those ideas included designing and implementing a SnapChat GeoTag catered to members of the Stanford community who were active on social media in Maples Pavilion during the game:

Stanford Basketball Game (Maples Pavilion) SnapChat GeoTag Design

For our video, we ran with our "Nerdentity" theme, seeking inspiration from NBA players who had donned "nerd glasses" on national television and thereby helped to add value to the look, feel, and brand of a nerd in the same way that we wanted to, on campus.

The video began as just a rough storyboard...

Then, while filming, we decided to mix things up a bit from the traditional marketing campaigns surrounding Stanford Athletics and run with a creative, student-friendly, remixed version of the song "Like a Boss," by changing the lyrics to "Like A Nerd" and taking a Stanford-centric approach. We had so much fun filming the Basketball Team and celebrating what Nerd Nation means to us, as Stanford students.

Our vision was simple: "I'm a nerd. You're a nerd. We're all nerds."

The video concludes with a call-to-action for the Stanford community, prompting them, "How are you #LikeANerd?" on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.