Atlanta is bustling with diverse people from all backgrounds and ages. Families have lived here for generations, and fresh faces from different corners of the globe move here seemingly daily. It’s a blend of old and new, traditional and progressive, classic and modern. It makes perfect sense that an innovative design institution like the Savannah College of Art and Design would choose Atlanta as a place to call home.
Moving into an area with so much cultural variation can make connecting with the community tricky for anyone, including businesses. Compass, a national luxury real estate brokerage, opened its flagship office in Buckhead in 2018 and expanded with four offices across Metro Atlanta. While the brand successfully grew through the pandemic, it faced limitations in developing partnerships with its new home.
In late 2021, Compass’ Southeast Luxury Lead, Alex Page, began researching some of the city’s most influential cultural institutions that aligned with Compass’ mission in order to form meaningful connections. He identified one of the best ways to connect a brand with the community is through supporting its arts, culture, and history. Through education, he wanted to collaborate with the city’s budding creatives, and the SCADpro program emerged as the obvious choice to achieve that goal.
“We are thrilled to partner with SCADpro and help mold the next generation of innovators, artists, and doers,” Page said. “Education and innovation are key components of Compass’ culture, and as a brand founded on leveraging technology to enhance the experience of relationships, I knew the SCADpro collaboration would create something amazing to be shared with Atlanta.”
SCADpro, a collaborative design studio offered by SCAD, connects its young, creative students with Fortune 500 companies looking for inventive solutions. Both the Savannah and Atlanta campuses of the award-winning design institution provide these entrepreneurial opportunities to their ambitious students every academic quarter.
Classes ranging from 10 to 15 students are led by one or two SCAD professors to ideate creative solutions to real-world problems that major brands present. Some examples of businesses that participated in previous Atlanta-based SCADpro collaborations are CNN, Coca-Cola, and Delta producing products and campaigns that have been rolled out internationally.
Coincidentally, the students selected to participate in the Compass x SCADpro collaboration closely reflected the brand’s target community. Thanks to SCAD’s diverse student population, passionate graduates and undergraduates ranged from countries like China, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, India, Korea, the U.S., and South Africa, they specialized in graphic design, advertising, industrial design, user experience, writing, and more. Together, the students immediately immersed themselves inthe Compass brand to better understand the challenge Compass faced and conceptualize innovative solutions. Graphic design professor, Sam Eckersley and foundations professor, Margot Ecke, were the SCAD faculty members overseeing the project.
Page and the rest of the Compass team met with the students to make introductions and present the overarching vision of the collaboration. Sitting in the SCADpro conference room with freshly baked cookies and 15 eager students ready for a challenge, Compass began a valuable, professional partnership.
“While Compass initially had a specific goal, they approached SCAD with an open mind and really challenged the students to think big,” Eckersley said.
Maintaining an open dialogue throughout the quarter, there were several touch points where the students had the opportunity to connect with various members of the Compass team such as marketing, technology, leadership, and the Luxury Division. One of the most valuable experiences for the students was the visit to the Compass Buckhead office where they engaged with some of the top real estate agents for a Q&A session to better understand the real estate industry and current market trends.
After the visit, it was clear to the students that Compass needed something innovative that would connect the brand with its new home. They wanted to create a product perfectly tailored to Compass’ needs, a spectacle specific to Atlanta. Before they could do that, they needed to fully understand the intricacies of Atlanta, its residents, and its real estate market.
Spearheaded by a student creative director, strategy lead, and design lead, the class broke into subgroups focusing on different areas of the campaign. The students began their thorough research followed by a formal presentation on their proposal. They presented seven key concepts to the Compass team, all of which aimed to celebrate Greater Atlanta’s community and bring Compass closer to it. The concepts ranged from physical structures like murals and sculptures to digital campaigns like virtual maps and scavenger hunts. The graphic designs, copy, and physical deliverables were all masterfully created by the SCADpro class.
From those initial concepts, Compass chose two options that best aligned with the objective and after constructive feedback, the students further developed those proposals. The reimagined ideas were presented, and a winning campaign was selected: an interactive digital experience which highlights and celebrates Atlanta’s history.
“One of the most valuable resources Atlanta has is its historic architecture,” Page said. “Each historic site has years of stories that shaped Atlanta’s legacy. That’s why we felt so drawn toward this specific concept. That legacy will continue to grow with time, and we want to both celebrate it and be a part of it.”
The students proceeded to finalize assets.. They considered every detail down to the experience of the final presentation, carefully curating stunning illustrations, masterful graphic designs, and professional-quality prototypes in a matter of weeks.
After the program concluded, Compass retained three SCADpro students as summer marketing interns. Working closely with Page and his team, they gained hands-on experience and further developed the campaign that began in their SCADpro classroom. What started as a student-driven idea from one of the state’s leading institutions blossomed under Compass’ professional guidance. Now, Atlanta will soon experience the perfect blend of art, culture, education, and history.
Be on the lookout for a historic, new experience, called the Atlanta Legacy Trail presented by Compass, launching in early spring 2023!