Constructive Dialogue Institute

Rebranding a Constructive Dialogue Learning Platform

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The Challenge

The leadership team at the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI) recognized that their evolution as an organization had led them to a point where they needed a complete rebrand from top to bottom. We worked with them to rename and reposition the organization to better reflect their current status as a research institute, learning platform, thought leader, and resource for high school and higher education teachers and students as well as workplaces.

The Outcome

Starting with an extensive renaming process, we designed a visual identity system aimed at faculty and administration members from high school through higher education that still feels inclusive to students. At the same time, we elevated the research that the organization conducts and brought their offerings for workplaces forward.

We then designed and built a flexible and scalable website that serves as a learning platform for students, teachers, and school staff that also highlights CDI’s research, and acts as a resource library for learning materials.


  • Strategic Brand Building
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Content & Campaign Consulting

Focus Areas

  • Education & Research

Understanding the Landscape

Through our previous work with Civic Online Reasoning, a series of stakeholder interviews, and our own competitive analysis of the constructive dialogue space, we developed the foundation for an engaging and distinctive brand identity.

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A Truly Descriptive Name

We started the naming process with the idea that one approach to constructive dialogue is to approach communication across differences with an open mind. While that produced several possible names, it was clear that none of the options we discussed expressed the fact that the solutions and resources they offer are grounded in research they conduct.

Our teams had a breakthrough when we realized that a name that evokes this aspect of the organization will serve it best. It then became clear that identifying them as a research institute that provides resources based on behavior science was the right direction for their name. From there it was simply a matter of adding their core perspective on constructive dialogue as an approach to difficult conversations. Hence, the Constructive Dialogue Institute.

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A Symbolic Logo

It’s a challenge to create an icon and wordmark when an organization has a long name. It can easily feel bulky. Our approach was to start by stacking the wordmark to make it more compact. It also aligns the acronym CDI, which we knew would quickly become shorthand for the organization and allow for more compact copywriting.

The icon that pairs with the wordmark to complete the full logo lockup is symbolic of people who hold different opinions engaged in constructive dialogue. Different shapes coming together in harmonious ways, expressing the goals of the organization.

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A Unifying Brand System

The visual brand identity system uses color, shapes, and patterns to help different audiences find content created for them, guide site visitors to content on each page, and encourage them to follow a strategic information flow.

Each audience is associated with a color — blue for high school, yellow for higher education, and teal for workplaces — creating clear action pathways. While the brand colors occur across the site, they are more prominent on pages with subject matter that applies to that audience.

A nod to speech bubbles, the shapes from the logo icon are repurposed throughout the site as elements that connect sections, create containers for images, and create visual consistency from page to page.

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Optimizing Information Availability

Providing clear pathways for site visitors is a site priority. The homepage immediately offers options for people to find the content that’s important to them. For people who need more information before they dive in, the overall information flow of the site provides opportunities to learn about the organization, explore deeper content, and quickly get to educational resources.

Maintaining Brand Consistency

The Constructive Dialogue Institute is growing quickly and has a strong team of content creators. As they move forward into their next chapter, the Brand Style Guide we provided them — along with our component-based design strategy — should allow them to expand their offerings and maintain brand integrity, even when their content is generated by many different contributors.

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Organizing an Information Library

The site’s Resource Library is the core feature for educators and their students. With hundreds of resources already developed, and more on the way, creating easy ways for busy teachers and professors to get to the lessons and other resources they want is critical.

We created a two-tiered exploration system that allows users to sort by topic, audience, or medium, or they can look over curated collections of resources before they choose what they want to use in their classrooms.

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 Integrated Website Development

In our work with social impact organizations, our website development team runs into a lot of third-party integration challenges. We were pleased with the process of using Donorbox as CDI’s donor platform. We were able to style it so that it felt integrated into the site’s aesthetic.

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Easy to Digest Messaging

We worked with the CDI team to create bite-sized content that describes an enormous problem without overwhelming the reader. We took this same approach with the messaging and links across the site, letting people absorb everything without an off-putting wall of text that tempts them to abandon their journey of discovery.

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Prioritizing Values

One of the branded copywriting sections we love to dig into is an organization’s values. CDI has a great collection of values that helps them position their organization and make it clear where they stand in their issue area.

Once the values were articulated, we dove into the content strategy discussion about where to surface them on the website. While many organizations have them on their About page, it made more sense for CDI to have them near the top of the Careers page. This placement lets potential employees understand the importance of their values in their hiring process.

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Multiple Reveals as an Awareness Campaign

A top-to-bottom rebrand and new website is a big deal for any organization. We worked with the CDI team to craft the visual assets and messaging for a webinar about their latest research that also included the reveal of the rebrand and new website. This strategy let them put their research front and center while also highlighting the organizational transformation.

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Scope of Work

  • Strategic Brand Building

    • Visual & Messaging Landscape Analysis
    • Brand Identity & Design Systems
    • Naming
    • Brand Messaging
    • Content & Messaging Strategy
  • Digital Infrastructure

    • Modern Bespoke Website Design & Development
    • Digital Blueprints
    • Branded Website Content & Copywriting
  • Content & Campaign Consulting

    • Awareness & Growth Campaigns
  • Other

    Related Work

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