Ashoka is a non-profit focused on social entrepreneurship and impact. Their newsletter plays a significant role in their donation income stream, and its branding had not had a visual make-over in nearly a decade. A sample of an old newsletter can be viewed in InVision. Mock-ups of these are also sampled below. As the in-house visual designer, I approached the Global Parterships Team and proposed how a re-brand might look like.
Gathering analytics from the web-team, we understood that there were certain areas of the newsletter that readers focused on. Among the key take aways from the heat-maps [InVision] were: 1) users actually engaged and shared the content via the social media icons 2) content is the real currency and user traffic hovered around our "Ashoka Fellows Spotlight", and finally 3) interestingly enough, the "Get Involved" call-to-action at the end of email generated similar numbers of donation engagements as the CTA "Donate Now".
With this in mind, the first visual design decision we knew we had to make was to update the branding in terms of fonts and colors, per the Ashoka style guide I helped build. Next, we made sure to include the social media links both at the top and at the bottom of the email, to ensure the readers an easy access to these engagements. We kept the popular content around the same area, and made sure it was populated with updated, eye-catching branded visual imagery. Finally, we opted to update the visual design of the CTAs, but not their language, nor their position. We wanted to see the future conversion numbers before changing them.
Acutely aware that if donation amounts were to change once we deployed the new newsletter [InVision] design, we needed a way to account for whether it was due to the newsletter look, the change in UX of our UI, or other donation cycle variables. At the end, the team decided that without more leadership buy-in, implementing the newsletter, however updated its branding was, posed some revenue risk Ashoka could not afford to take.
Instead, the Global Partnerships team, recognizing the start of a promising new visual asset library, pivoted and made use of the newsletter visuals in their corporate partnership pitch decks.
If there's ever a lesson in this design case study, it's that designers should be open to utilizing their visual assets for a product they may not have intended them to begin with. And, galvanizing leadership alignment and trust is paramount.