Creative Process Study 15

12.01.2010 / Project: Nossi College of Art

Bruce Stanley

One of the first tasks that I was asked to accomplish when I came on board at Nossi College of Art was to look at their brand identity change and its process, which was already underway. Nossi was in the middle of a rebranding campaign and was struggling with some decisions that would help them establish a new perspective in the market. In the past the brand had suffered from some negative growth experiences and—after 37 years it had one more chance to be new again.

Nossi is actually the name of the woman who founded the school, teaching right out of her home after immigrating from Iran. She believes everyone should have the chance to express their creativity and she became devoted to educating those wanting to explore their opportunities in art.

Today, the school has just built a 55,00 sq. ft. creative oasis in Nashville. Complete with state-of-the-art technology and environmental upgrades the facility is truly a place conducive for creativity. Offering Associate and Bachelor degrees from Graphic Design and Illustration to Photography and Videography, it is an art college to be reckoned with.

The existing mark was dated and didn’t portray the college as a serious institution.

We needed to evolve the brand to be competitive with other art schools. Nashville and its region is one of the most concentrated areas for choices in art colleges. Most are franchised institutions that have the perception of success on higher education. However, Nossi is a private, family owned school  and wanted to find a unique and creative solution.

We built some objectives based on our three audiences:

  1. The prospect—Inspire new student recruits. Most of this demographic is age 17–20
  2. The design community—Gain trust from those that would employ our graduates. These include Ad Agencies, Design Shops, Production vendors, etc.
  3. The educators—Influence high school counselors and art teachers positively – those that impact our prospects before we do.

The branding objectives were two fold:

  1. Create a mark that would evolve the brand to a respectful college institution.
    —We needed a new brand perception that would shift it from a mom and pop school to a believable brand, competitive with art schools in the market
  2. Develop a way to market the brand using it’s new identity
    —Using a concept that would showcase the new identity would help promote the school and it’s new brand

What proceeded was the most extensive process I’ve been involved in. Four different agencies, freelancers and various creative faculty designers produced more than a hundred different options.

The fun part—creating logo designs. Some of my favorite are the sketches that come before digital renderings.

Then there was a pronunciation issue—it’s pronounced, Nossi with a long ō. There were many options that addressed this challenge and in the end, this direction would be what we felt would give us the best opportunity for a unique look, as well as possibilities for a new branding language to market the college. It gave the simple typographical mark a sort of Bauhaus style of design—a borrowed creative heritage of design.


The second objective was accomplished by using the long ō. By creating a new language library and phrase archive, we were able to develop a unique way to communicate a brand message that highlighted the identity we created. Here are some examples of how we did that:

We are just getting started with creating apparel for current students and alumni. Here is the first of many designs used for t-shirts which were created by our students using the Long ō.

This lengthy process, over a year,  has allowed the school to embrace its history and future goals of brand identity. We are pleased with the outcome and the opportunities that have developed from it. It just goes to show that brand identity, its process and the opportunities that present themselves during that process, are worth the undertaking and can make a huge impact from a marketing perspective.

Bruce Stanley is a Creative Director and the Graphic Design Coordinator at Nossi College of Art. His belief in the ability to control your creative destiny is why he enjoys sharing his expertise and experiences with others. You can reach him though his blog:, twitter: @bsimage or at

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7 comments, please join in the discussion

  1. 12.02.2010

    Nice selection of options but if you give a client too many choices, you get too many changes.

    Fun article!

  2. 12.03.2010

    Sometimes options are enough to convince your client that you have explored all directions. Then making recommendations becomes less subjective.

    I will agree that too many choices without a solid process can be confusing.

    • 12.04.2010

      Agreed! Now if you could just change this little…

  3. 12.09.2010

    I love reading about rebranding campaigns. They give great insight into the creative process. I love all of the opportunities the long o gives you as well. It looks like it was a really fun campaign to work on 🙂

    • 12.09.2010

      It continues to offer creative ways to communicate to our audiences as well as fun ways to execute projects with our students. It’s simple and strategic to our new branding. Thanks for your feedback.


  4. RIcky

    I really like the new identity communicated with different

    • 01.25.2011

      Thanks. It has shown some success in believability and changed perception of the brand. Students and alumni are also embracing the new designs and our culture is changing as well.

      Identity is just that. It’s who you are or who you want to be. Either way, it only works if your products and services live up to what you create.