Creative Brief

Northwestern University’s July incentive campaign is the last large campaign of each fiscal year. Northwestern uses this campaign to incentivize alumni (particularly alumni who have not yet given in the current fiscal year) to make their annual gift. In return, they receive something, an incentive. Each year a new incentive is chosen, and in 2018 it was a Northwestern tumbler.

The campaign is targeted as an email campaign, but is also marketed on most of Northwestern’s social channels. Each email has to showcase the incentive prominently, clearly conveying the item. For this campaign, this proved to be a challenge. Not only is a tumbler a 360° object, it is transparent, and the illustration it carries must translate over the limited space of email and social images. Another major challenge was managing the many aspects of the campaign. Not only did I work on the physical tumbler, but I also designed all assets for email and social, and sought out opportunities to improve the success of the campaign.

The goal of this campaign is to compel Northwestern alumni to give—which can only occur if the campaign first catches their attention via email/social, clearly communicates an appealing incentive, and then the process of giving is quick and pain-free.



  • Illustration for Incentive

  • 2 Belly banners, same design with different CTAs

  • 1 Scene email (email with large hero image)

  • Stewardship email (post-gift email thanking the donor)

  • Landing Page banner image

  • Mobile content block for the giving cart landing page

  • Social Content/Strategy

The team

The team assigned to this campaign includes a project lead/client manager, a copy editor (in this particular project the client provides copy), designer (that’s me!), social content strategist, videographer/photographer, and a web developer.

The project lead gathered information from the client, and brought producers into the meetings as needed. The designer provided art direction, with the feedback of a senior designer. Designer collaborated with the social content strategist and photographer for social content, and also consulted with the web developer for landing page design and email design. The web developer built the landing page and consulted with the client as they built the emails.

The process started with a kick-off meeting to talk about the entire scope of the project. At this time the project manager and client presented the brief, including the incentive item. We discussed challenges, and early thoughts on creative direction. Takeaways: this incentive should communicate Northwestern, summer, and a general fun and engaging atmosphere.

After the kick-off meeting, I went back to research similar campaigns, tumblers, and the most engaging ways to photograph the tumbler. During this initial research, I put together a mood board to convey the feelings of the campaign. View the PDF of the mood board by clicking below (be sure to click the numbers on the PDF, they link to video inspirations!)

The Process


The mood board was presented during a meeting with the client to chat more in depth about social content and strategy. After getting client feedback from the mood board, the team prepared a more formal social strategy and a photoshoot of the tumbler.

Simultaneously, I started designing concepts for the tumbler. Once a direction was selected, other campaign deliverables went into production as well. I put together a broadside packet, showcasing a couple different comps. After getting internal feedback, my team met with the client to present the comps.

The options presented meet the deliverable criteria, but vary most in the belly banner designs:

  1. Option 1 is nearly a straight pick-up. This option is the most expected design, as it doesn’t vary much from previous years. However, some variations are brought in to maintain consistency with the incentive design.

  2. Option 2 provides some variations to the usual design as means of better communicating the illustration on the tumbler.

See the PDF of the comps presented here.


You may notice there is no landing page banner in the PDF. During the meeting we also presented the idea of redesigning the landing page, to better showcase the incentive and be more in line with current web design. (above)

Initial feedback was good, but other stakeholders also needed to weigh in. As feedback from various stakeholders came in, a few tweaks were made. The client chose the second option of belly banners. Unfortunately, the client also chose to return to their usual landing page design here, rather than the version presented with the broadside. In regards to social content, the photoshoot produced several photos of the tumbler in summer themed environments. The client selected several photos, below is a team favorite that did not make the final cut.


The campaign launched over social first. In the first 48 hours over 50% of the giving goals were met. However, after emails deployed, two unforeseeable situations came into play, and a decision was made to end the campaign early. For this reason, the total goal was not made, and plans to reissue the campaign at a later date were made. Based on the trajectory of the campaign, had it gone to completion the goals would’ve likely been achieved.

This was a project where I truly saw my creative direction come to life from beginning to end. I simultaneously had to look at the project from a wide and narrow lens. However, I also learned how important a constantly collaborative team is, especially for a project with many moving parts. In the end, I still see opportunity for growth in this project. Because it is an annual project, we can study the analytics of the campaign and use that data to inform upon the design in the future.