Brand Positioning

Making the Dream of College a Reality

With the Washington Student Achievement Council


01 / Background

Sixty-seven percent of all jobs in Washington state will require some college education by 2018. But for many students, higher education seems out of reach or unaffordable. To combat this, the Washington Student Achievement Council engaged GMMB to aid in their mission to educate low-income students and their families about the significant assistance and resources the state offers to make higher education accessible and affordable.

2003 - 2015
Advertising / Brand Strategy / Digital / Public Relations / Creative Content

02 / Strategy

Applying for college is a complicated process. Students and parents struggle with multiple steps and confusing deadlines with little knowledge of how to best prepare.

The Washington Student Achievement Council hired GMMB to design and develop a website to help middle and high school students, parents, and teachers better understand the necessary steps to get into and afford college. The Council’s goal is to continue growing the number of Washington state students who enroll in and complete college—whether it is a two-year, four-year, or certificate program.

With students as our primary audience, we worked with the Washington Student Achievement Council to coordinate informal focus groups of middle and high school students to test proposed names and later the logo and colors. Students overwhelmingly gravitated toward Ready.Set.Grad, noting that it was both creative and descriptive. We landed on a simple logo that broke each word (Ready, Set, and Grad) into its own bar, an element that eventually played a central role in our website design.


03 / Work

To communicate with students, we built a responsive website design that students could easily navigate on mobile phones, tablets, and computers. The content language was tailored to students to be both understandable and attention-grabbing. On the website, users can filter information by grade level to receive tailored notices on the website, by email, and via text message based on where they are in their educational journey. The design framework also used the logo as inspiration, breaking content into three categories: Ready: what you need to know to go to college; Set: what you need to do to go to college; and Grad: what you need beyond graduation.


04 / Results

The result is ReadySetGrad.org, a website that helps ensure every student in Washington state has access to the tools, information, and support they need to graduate high school and make college a reality. Ready.Set.Grad. provides grade-by-grade timelines so students can plan their classes and extracurricular activities, discover college-planning events, connect with mentors, and learn how to get into, pay for, and complete college. Users can fill out interactive checklists and take notes on the website, which can then be emailed so students can come back and update information as it changes.

Content scrolls horizontally and vertically across the page, displaying the photos and text in an engaging and user-friendly way. Red dots float along the page and expand when clicked, providing access to real-time information on Twitter or Facebook, and allowing students to sign up for grade-specific email content and text message alerts. The website, which launched in July 2013, was nominated for a Webby award in 2014.