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Communication Design Students Assist in Rebranding Local Nonprofit

December 3, 2021
Students walking past a sculpture on campus

Working with non-profit community partners is an invaluable experience for CCS students because it offers them the opportunity to put their skills into practice to support non-profit partners’ art and design needs for product development, brand guidelines, physical spaces and more for smaller — more nimble organizations. 

The Office of Partnerships at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) is a reimagined office that’s committed to engaging students in hands-on opportunities with industry and community partners to learn by doing — preparing students for professional life post-graduation.

Recently, Communication Design students worked with the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) to create a community brand strategy by taking existing parts of the brand and reevaluating the systems that didn’t work and those that did and incorporating new brand systems.

The Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that promotes local businesses and engagement with its community members.

The Chamber originally began with a single logo that expanded into a complex brand system that wasn’t cohesive, so the rebranding process began with the assistance of CCS Communication Design students. The Chamber had hoped to gain visibility and expand its functional role within the community. Overall, the Chamber wanted to work towards a comprehensive and modern look for their brand. 

“For a nonprofit [organization] looking professional is the difference between getting funding and not, or getting memberships and not,” John Ingle, Chair of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce and alumni of CCS (‘09, Product Design) said. “That was really important to us, and it makes conversations with benefactors easier.”

The Chamber’s goal of obtaining a comprehensive brand identity was achieved through research, using past materials and communicating with community members.

Communication Design senior, Hailey Swiatowy, was an individual on the winning team and was hired as an intern this past summer to implement the designs that her team created. Swiatowy provided brand assets for the project and assisted in the process of learning which assets would be used for social media, business cards, event posters and the webpage. 

“Having those assets helps us not have to go through a hodgepodge of assets,” Ingle said. “We don’t have to think about it, and that makes us a functional and organized organization.”

During her time with the Chamber, Swiatowy had the chance to help design assets for the Chamber’s annual Art Festival back in August, mentioning that it was one of her highlights of working with them over the summer.

I learned the importance of thoroughly researching a community and its needs before jumping into designing,” Swiatowy said. “Especially for an organization like the Chamber, where they are serving a circle of diverse businesses and cultivating a community of mutual support and appreciation for one another. It’s important to understand what needs they have, recognize shortcomings and celebrations, and then think about how intentional design could help reach a wider audience and better everyone’s overall experience.”

The Chamber ultimately decided not to work with an agency on this rebranding project because of the cost. The funding was awarded through the Ford Community Corps program supported by the Ford Fund,, so they were able to underwrite the entire cost of the project. But Ingle explains that even if the Chamber was a for-profit company, they would have chosen to work with CCS. 

“These are highly talented, capable, professional young individuals with a lot of potential,” Ingle said. “CCS has a track record of doing great things.”

Executive Director Shannon McPartlon of the Office of Partnerships is hopeful that a project with this success can be replicated with future nonprofit and community organizations.

We want our students to be engaged from start to finish, not only to ideate and create thoughtful design solutions — but also to execute them successfully in support of our partners,” McPartlon said.