Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) College of Engineering is a well-established institution that, in addition to education, partners with governments, corporations, NGOs and other entities across disciplines to address complex engineering problems. Despite CMU’s proven track record for creating numerous solutions in this area, it struggled to be recognized in the same high regard as Stanford, MIT and other top-tier Ivy League universities. CMU leadership sought to elevate public perception of the College of Engineering in order to attract more project-based partnerships and increase this source of revenue for the university.
Combo’s strategy teams visited the CMU campus to conduct in-person research on what gave the college’s problem-solving process its distinct value. Through interviews with engineering professors, fellows, and PhD candidates, Combo strategists were able to identify CMU’s unique approach and define it as “advanced collaboration”: a large-scale problem is broken down into its constituent parts, which are then assigned to experts in each of the relevant fields, and finally brought back together to assemble into one big solution. Understanding CMU’s hypercollaborative process as its unique product offering became the basis for a strategic plan to reframe CMU as the place to go to solve some of today’s most pressing engineering problems.
Working closely together, Combo strategists and designers began to put together both the written language and a design system to effectively market CMU as a premier think tank and problem-solving institution. The Combo design team then concepted and created images in order to visualize these projects, building out a visual world that brought the idea of advanced collaboration to life and communicated its principles through a complete design system.
Expanding from the initial brief, Combo’s design team has continued over the past four years, exclusively providing images, photos, GIFs and art direction for visual asset creation.