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New branding: Strategic Design students joined forces with 10 women entrepreneurs

Throughout 2020, strategic design students from the Monica Herrera School of Communication (ECMH), supported entrepreneurs from Programa Velasco’s (PV) Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP) by working together to create and improve the branding of their businesses.

As part of a class project at ECMH, 30 students were divided into groups of three and partnered with participants of the WEP to get to know each other, the program, and PV. The idea was that these small groups would use their combined knowledge and skills to support the entrepreneurs’ businesses. From the start, it was clear that it would be an excellent learning experience for both parties involved. 

On August 24, 2020, to kick off the project, our WEP Coordinator gave a presentation about Programa Velasco to the ECMH students, where she explained that the entrepreneurs have already taken some courses on business marketing and have already spent time developing their business’ brand. 

PV staff then shared the business profiles of 19 entrepreneurs, who had previously requested support to create or improve their brands, logos, labels, and other marketing materials to better promote their products or services, to the ECMH students. After reviewing the business profiles and considering where the student’s talent and skills could be of use, ten profiles were selected to move forward in the process. 

Each group of students held virtual meetings with the entrepreneurs, from August to November through calls or video calls on WhatsApp. PV staff members were in charge of making sure communication went smoothly and supporting entrepreneurs throughout these meetings. The purpose was to share more information about their individual business models. Entrepreneurs noted that they felt more confident when a PV staff member was part of the call and able to provide support. 

During these meetings, the students took the time to get to know, in-depth, the products and/or services that the entrepreneurs offered. Also, they shared more about the quality, price, point of sale, and promotions behind their businesses. 

Not only did the design students learn about the products and services each entrepreneur offered, but the design students also inquired about the lives and personal beliefs of the entrepreneurs, as well as the environments in which they each work and live, in order to better understand the inspiration and context behind each business.

They each came to learn a lot about each other and women entrepreneurs were able to share more about their relationships with customers and their unique branding needs. 

Through these meetings, the students and entrepreneurs collectively defined a value proposition for each business, describing what makes the business unique in comparison to its competition and why it should be purchased. The design students offered personalized ideas for each brand project that best fit the preferences and vision of the entrepreneurs. These ideas were then captured by the design students through a modern and meaningful design. 

Overall, this collaboration resulted in the design of logos, labels, catalogs, gift cards, patterns, menus, fonts, product mockups, business cards and brand manuals. The entrepreneurs have received their new branding designs and are planning on using them in various ways. 

We cannot thank Professor Oscar Velásquez enough, as it was his idea to include the WEP in this project. It is exciting for the entrepreneurs to be connecting with Salvadoran students and for both parties to be able to take advantage of this collaboration. 

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