brand story & messaging, case studies

Messaging, website amplify Stanford sustainability efforts

Thinkshift | June 8, 2015


  • Messaging resonated with various audiences
  • An identity that unified disparate efforts
  • Website made a powerful impression

Stanford University had been pursuing sustainability in all facets of campus operations—and getting results. But key audiences knew little about the university’s efforts or accomplishments. The Stanford Sustainability Program (now the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management) hired Thinkshift to develop a strategy for reaching those audiences and to create key materials.

“With Thinkshift’s help, we began to think strategically about how to use communications to inform students, faculty and staff, and engage them in a unified movement to bring Stanford to the forefront of sustainability education and practice,” said Therese Brekke, then manager of the program.

Joseph Stagner, Stanford’s executive director of Sustainability and Energy Management, said that Thinkshift’s website work “helped us communicate effectively with our diverse audiences … allowing us to build support and excitement and show the great progress we are making.”

What we did

  • Thinkshift researched audience interests and perceptions, engaged the Sustainability Working Group to determine communicator needs, created a messaging foundation and developed a communications strategy.
  • We created the information architecture and content for the Sustainable Stanford website.
  • To help communicators tell the Sustainable Stanford story to various audiences, we developed a series of branded tools, including a booklet, media fact sheets, a poster for new students, and a PowerPoint presentation for use at conferences.

How it worked

  • Stanford had clear, consistent messaging about its sustainability approach that resulted in improved communications.
  • Sustainability: The Journal of Record had this to say: “Should anyone question Stanford’s commitment to sustainability, point them to the ‘Sustainable Stanford’ website. Then watch their jaw drop.”
  • Previously disparate efforts were unified in one umbrella identity that communicated the extent of the university’s sustainability efforts.

Thinkshift delivered a high-profile, information-rich resource that succinctly communicates our work and our progress.” —Joseph Stagner, Stanford University


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