Behind the Design: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Steve Jobs said “Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” So I thought it would be fun to give you a peek behind the design of a recent project with Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire provides mentors for at-risk youth to ensure they have opportunities and guidance to realize their potential. Together, we developed a case for support—a fundraising document that outlines the company’s programs, their impact, and their financial needs. I am thrilled about the final product (and so were they!), but I want to take you through my design process to show you how we landed on the final design.

Step 1: Consultation

Through a 30-minute consultation to understand the company’s history, business model, and purpose and goals for this project, I learned Big Brothers Big Sisters of America recently underwent a nationwide rebrand and their New Hampshire affiliate was looking for new marketing materials to support their aggressive new fundraising goal to triple their revenue over the next five years.

Step 2: Copywriting

After researching the company in depth and familiarizing myself their brand and messaging, I developed copy that captured their voice and the heart of their mission. In the first round of revisions, the company felt the storytelling was compelling, but the language needed to be more aggressive to adequately convey a sense of urgency. I created this necessary tension by juxtaposing jarring and vulnerable words.

For example: “A child’s potential is at risk when they face adversity early in life” became “A child’s potential is attacked when they face adversity early in life.”

It’s a slight tweak, but doesn’t the second version feel more uncomfortable?

Step 3: Design

Using their brand design guidelines, I started the design phase with cover concepts. I typically offer up to three cover concepts, but sometimes the design spirit moves me and I create more! Here are four options they chose from:

Option #1

This cover is clean and classic and shows the power of the adult and youth mentorship relationship.

Option #2

This cover is focused to show the seriousness of a child who struggles with adversities. To create subtle tension, I then added the fun graphic elements to show the playful side of being a child.

Option #3

For this cover, I wanted the imagery to evoke a sense of aspiration and potential. I chose this particular photo, because I love how the boy looks like he’s about to take off a cape. I overlaid a graphic element (an abstract arrow) to show forward motion.

In the end, we unanimously agreed on this cover:

Option #4

This cover is focused and minimalist to evoke an immediate emotional reaction and connection with the viewer. It’s vulnerable but powerful, which captures the heart of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire’s mission to defend a child’s potential.

I mean, isn’t the look in her eye just so captivating?

Step 4: Interior Design

The cover concept determined the direction of the interior files. I used the banded elbows as a theme throughout the document. Below are some sample spreads to show how I carried the design elements throughout:

Once the project was complete, I unveiled it to the company, we made some last minute alterations, and they sent it to the printer.

What I love so much about this project is it combined my passion for helping cause-worthy organizations and challenged my storytelling skills through both writing and design. It’s essential that the reader walks away from this piece with a clear sense of the organization’s mission, passion, results, and feels emotionally compelled to help fulfill their need to help every child who needs a mentor find one.

If you’re interested in chatting about how I can help your company with their marketing needs, visit my contact page to send me an email.