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Hollins University

Brand Strategy
Next Wrok
Westminster University
Westminster University
NEXT Westminster University

Find out what you’re made of.

Over the years, Hollins University has undergone some significant changes: shifting from an all-women’s college to including a co-ed graduate program, implementing new policies around gender-identity, bringing on a new president, and dealing with the residual effects of the COVID pandemic. 

With a mission dedicated to progressing with the times, the Hollins team decided it needed an updated brand to reflect the institution as it is today while still paying homage to the rich history that got it here. Hollins partnered with Up&Up to craft a refreshed brand strategy and identity that met this new direction, then tasked us with bringing the rebrand to life through the University’s website, print, and digital materials.

The Goal:

Enhance the Hollins brand while remaining true to its roots and building a digital and website experience that reflects what it truly means to be a Hollins student: determined, resilient, and true to yourself.


Re-discover who Hollins is today and create a unified message that’s accepted and embraced by all stakeholders: current and prospective students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni.


Dig deep into Hollins’ mission and essence to showcase that where the University is going stems from its history of always moving forward.

Modernizing Hollins’ History

Hollins wanted a brand revision, not revolution. With that in mind, we crafted a brand strategy born from what already existed within Hollins:

A history of progress.
Adapting with the times.
Refusing to fit in a box.

Building on what already made Hollins the university that it is, we focused on a key component of the Hollins student experience: “Find out what you’re made of.”

Getting Buy-In From the Get-Go

Buy-in makes a big difference when it comes to refreshing a brand, especially one as beloved and revered as Hollins. Our team was mindful to make sure that all key stakeholders were involved and heard throughout every stage of the re-brand and web-development process. 

This consideration paid off: The president started internalizing the new brand almost immediately after it was presented, showing that we nailed the direction Hollins’ internal team was going.

Leaning into Creativity

Hollins is a place where not everything has to be formal. In fact, it’s understood that the messy stuff is usually what gets you where you want to be. We embraced this theme in the brand refresh and, in alignment with the Hollins team, really leaned into the University’s creative side. 

We were given space to be quirky and creative like its students, which was woven throughout the new identity:

  • Crumpled paper texture to represent the “rough draft” and constant reforming as a student
  • Doodles and scrapbook elements to showcase brainstorming, mood-boarding, and visualizing the future
  • Hand-written notes of encouragement with words that described the students we’re speaking to


Differentiating the Grad Programs

When Hollins underwent its last rebrand in 2012, the new brand guidelines only focused on the college; there was no brand direction for the graduate programs or adult learning. This time around, it was important to consider how those programs could maintain their own identity while still fitting seamlessly into the Hollins brand. 

The grad programs wanted us to help market their liberal arts (MFA) and fine arts (MA) programs with a digital campaign to increase awareness and highlight the programs’ coed status. To do this, we leaned into Hollins secondary and tertiary colors to represent the grad programs while staying true to the University’s parent brand. 

We also worked together with the Hollins team to find the right mix of students to accurately represent what the grad student body looked like: a diverse group of male and female students working to become their most inspirational selves.

Reimagining the Traditional College Website Experience

When it came to redeveloping Hollins’s website, we had a big Ah-Hah! moment. What if users could explore the Hollins website in a way that made sense to them: by photos, by facts, by stories, by details, by looking at the student life or academics, or even looking ahead to the outcomes?

This concept turned an initial website interaction into a real connection point for the user. With this simple integration, we were able to target a wider audience and truly meet users where they are, making the Hollins website stand out even more to right-fit students.

Thinking Outside the <div> Box

We wanted to push the boundaries of what we could do with the “box” that websites are often put into (literally a <div>). Following a primarily print-inspired design, our development team was challenged to totally rethink how we could build a site. 

The challenge paid off and allowed an even more seamless transition of the new brand identity to web because the design was so free and untethered.

Going Straight to the Source

Continuing with our efforts to ensure buy-in from all key stakeholders through every step of our process, we introduced the new website to students through several midpoint focus groups. The goal of these groups was to ensure that the website accurately reflected Hollins’ brand and story in a way that resonated with students. 

The sessions were informative and validating. The student focus groups gave us the perspective we needed and confirmed that we were balancing Hollins’ evolution in today’s world with the heritage and history that means so much to its students and alumni.

Keeping What Works (And Improving the Rest)

We start almost every web project with a survey of the client’s satisfaction with the current website; and for the first time ever, we received high scores of satisfaction from the client’s web team. 

However, the website still had opportunities for improvement when it came to user and brand experience. So, with the survey results in mind, we ensured the backend of the site was thought through just as much as the front end, and that it checked all of the Hollins’ web team boxes: easy to update, manage, and above all, remained stable.


Always Optimizing

“Set it and forget it” is not part of the Up&Up team’s vocabulary, especially when it comes to digital campaigns. Throughout the campaign, we worked closely with the client to troubleshoot any backend issues and we were frequently optimizing ads to ensure the best results possible. 

We also separated the landing pages into two main categories (the MA programs and MFA programs) to better funnel prospective search inquiries and ensure they received the correct information—which meant a better experience for the user and Hollins’ marketing team.


This is an example of a firm going beyond what was expected in ways that met our priorities and will have meaningful ongoing impacts.

Billy Faires Marketing and Communications, President’s Cabinet

From Progress to Growth

Leading with progress while leaning on history was an effective formula for the Hollins rebrand, website, and digital campaign. With regular check-ins throughout the process, we were able to ensure that we had buy-in and accuracy from all stakeholders, which meant more of an internal push from the Hollins team to see the campaigns through. 

The results? An engaging campaign; increased numbers in web visits, inquiries, and applications; and ultimately, happy clients and stakeholders all around.


Increase in Homepage Visits


Ad Impressions


Increase in Undergrad Academics and Major/Minors


Westminster University