Educate, Discover, Heal, and Empower

Reinvigorating a Pioneering Medical Center and University

  • Developed a comprehensive brand strategy that leveraged emotion
  • Designed a new identity and a compelling graphic system
  • Launched the brand via a large-scale event, both in-person and virtual
  • Created both digital and out-of-home campaigns to increase brand awareness


SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a well-known medical institution in New York that has trained more doctors in New York City than any other medical college. Founded in 1860, the university has expanded from a single medical school to include five colleges, a teaching hospital, and a research and biotech hub. Downstate wanted to reinvigorate its brand, align with its expanded offerings, and create increased engagement among internal and external stakeholders.

Following a qualitative and quantitative research phase and a detailed assessment, MBLM created a compelling brand promise centered on the Brand Intimacy archetype of identity: reflecting an aspirational image of admired values and beliefs that resonate deeply. We focused the brand on core strength, Downstate’s determination, and ability to be inventive and resourceful. This idea was articulated through the idea of Ingenuity.

To complement the new positioning, MBLM designed a modernized shield that highlighted Downstate’s focus on research, education, and care. The traditional shape harkens to the institution’s long history, while the unique design and elements have a more contemporary feel.

The new design system combined fresh typography with rich navy blues and secondary highlight hues and introduced a flexible layout and composition system that allude to the form of the identity, creating a bold and engaging visual aesthetic.

A launch week “School Pride” series of activities served to rally internal and external audiences around the new brand, both educating and exciting stakeholders. The highlight was a launch event in the school auditorium for select dignitaries with speakers, and a brand unveil. This was also simulcast so remote viewers could participate.  To build on the growing momentum, a brand awareness campaign featuring bus shelter displays digital and social ads were deployed to reintroduce the brand to its Brooklyn constituents.

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