Research & Brand Strategy
Client: Bezos Family Foundation
Early Learning Campaign
United States

Our team was tasked with creating a communications campaign to encourage low- and middle-income parents and guardians in the United States to engage with their 0-5 year-old children in ways that best spur brain development. The first month of our work was strictly research, conducting dozens of expert interviews, and spending time with parents and families around the country. 

Our final brand concept was highly positive, assuring parents that most every type of active engagement they do with their child helps to build their brain. The point was to turn conventional black-and-white messaging around parenting on its head, to encourage parents to find small moments in their everyday routines to engage with their children, rather than feeling like they needed to devote huge amounts of uninterrupted time at home reading to their children. From our research, messaging that included this kind of unattainable goal were non-starters--parents simply tuned them out.

The campaign was meant to reframe what “counted” as good parenting, and who could be a good parent. This work was rolled out nationally as the platform Vroom, which has now reached over 2 million families nationwide.


Strategy & Prototyping
Airbel Impact Lab @ International Rescue Committee
Client: Bezos Family
Vroom Adaptation
Syrian Response Region

SOSHL partnered with the Bezos Foundation, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee’s Airbel Impact Lab, to reimagine the Vroom early learning platform for a Syrian refugee context. We developed new, mostly offline prototypes which we tested with Syrian families living in displacement in Jordan and Lebanon.

These prototypes included a variety of media, including a series of live-action videos shot on-site in Lebanon, a set of animated videos, a series of comic strips, and a collection of written activity cards, among others. It also included testing of a number of delivery channels, including a simple mobile app, a Facebook page, a series of moderated WhatsApp groups, SMS messages, in-person group sessions in clinics and other gathering places, and others. 

One other aspect of this project was a randomized control A/B trial to test effectiveness of different messaging tones. Working with the UK-based firm Behavorial Insights Team (also known as the “Nudge Unit”), we sent out a series of 9 text messages to a database of 12,000 phone numbers of displaced parents living in Jordan and Lebanon - over 83,000 text messages total.

The two groups for the messaging trial were the “science focus” group and the “joy of parenting” group. For each message, we tracked click-through rates and engagement to understand which tonal direction was more effective.

We also developed a series of personas based on the types of parents we met with across both countries to help prioritize media types and channels across different user groups within this complex community.

Credit: Airbel Impact Lab @ International Rescue Committee 

Strategy & Digital Prototyping
Client: IDEAN and Mara Foundation
Cashless University
Lagos, Nigeria

For this project, SOSHL worked with interaction design firm Idean (now part of Frog/Capgemini Invent), and Mara Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Atlas Mara Bank, to provide strategy for a new mobile money offering aimed at young entrepreneurs and students in Nigeria.

The project began with a two-week intensive research phase, meeting with students and entrepreneurs to understand their spending habits, as well as merchants and other organizations in the Lagos area, to build a portrait of the landscape of buying and spending. Out of the research insights we developed a set of design principles to guide the development of the mobile money offering, responding to the things we knew to be true about the behavior change and spending patterns of young students in Lagos.

We also rapidly prototyped and tested two different interactive wireframes. Through video documentation we were able to capture initial reactions from students and local merchants to two different possible options for the structure of the mobile app itself, as well as guiding them through in-depth feedback and validation.

This process was invaluable in quickly giving us insight into the ease of understanding on how to navigate the app, which areas were working and where additional revisions were needed.

Credit: Idean (now Frog/Capgemini Invent)

Research & Prototyping
Client: DKT International
Batela Lobi Na Yo
Kinshasa, DRC

DKT International, one of the largest providers of subsidized birth control in the global south, asked our team to help them create a new brand that would encourage young people to use contraception, with a focus on long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). This brand would be launched in Kinshasa, and eventually spread to the rest of DKT’s presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We began with a deep dive into the type of tone that would most resonate with teens, creating a series of different posters along with a set of varying message cards for comparison. Based on this initial research, we came up with some very initial branding directions, and decided to focus on testing which channels would be most effective in encouraging teens to head to a clinic to learn more about contraceptive options.

We created a set of vouchers, each color-coded to one outreach channel, and then ran promotions through each channel, funneling teens to a clinic day at a partner clinic, where consultations would be available with a voucher. We were able to use the color coding to understand which type of outreach had been most successful. 
As part of our work in organizing the clinic day, we commissioned an original song to evoke the power of “Batela Lobi Na Yo,” or Protect Your Future.” This is a tagline that married the two things we heard over and over with birth control - that it was a way for girls to protect themselves, and that it was a bridge toward the future life that they wanted to live. We also commissioned a local girls drama club to write and perform an original play to illustrate this issue.

During the event, we passed around actual IUDs, implants, and injections, knowing that this would be the first time many of them had actually seen the real methods.

Our more refined visual direction used bold colors and photography of “near peer” girls, along with icons for each method, shown where they will be placed on a girl’s body. Each method includes its own “power pose,” to further the confident, future-focused mindset we wanted the brand to imbue.


Brand & Strategy
Clients: Unilever & Water+Sanitation for the Urban Poor
Clean Team 
Kumasi, Ghana

Unilever and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor tasked our team with building a brand direction and scaling strategy for Clean Team, a new in-home toilet service in Ghana, developed through earlier engagements with IDEO. Clean Team was already under pilot with 80 families in the city of Kumasi, but was planned to scale rapidly.

In our research we found, among other things, that the service was definitely considered aspirational, that people loved the feeling of ownership, and that people trusted international brands a great deal more than local ones.

As we began developing the brand strategy, we knew that many of the people using the toilet would have a hard time reading a great deal of text, so pictorial work was important. At the same time, Kumasi residents were relatively literal, and prefered seeing two men next to a toilet rather than a more abstract logo. We went through several revisions and iterations, from literal to abstract, and in the end suggested a progression that the brand could take as it scaled and needed a progressively simpler, more easily replicable mark.

Our final deliverable included both a style guide and a scaling strategy for three different scales. In each scale, we discussed the positioning of the brand and the brand voice, the appropriate channels, and sample advertisements. Follow-up work built on this initial strategy to dive into more detail on the service model, as well as to suggest designs for freestanding toilet enclosures based on customer feedback.

Cleveland, Ohio