A Branding & Web Design Firm on a Mission

Constructive is a brand experience firm located in New York City. We’re problem solvers who specialize in helping nonprofits, educational institutions, and game-changing companies achieve greater impact in the world. Combining the insights of a branding consultancy with the creativity and technical acumen of a design studio, we create brand experiences online and in print that help our clients stand out, and stand for something.

 
$50,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2000
Show all +
New York, NY
headquarters
  • Constructive
    611 Broadway
    New York, NY 10012
    United States
    212.925.6460

Portfolio

Key clients: 

The Aspen Institute, Catalyst, ClimateWorks, Columbia University, Harvard University, Helmsley Charitable Trust, Hillside Family of Agencies, International Energy Agency, National Head Start Association, Pratt Institute, The Wallace Foundation, World Cocoa Foundation, World Economic Forum, Yale University

Reviews

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Web Dev & Branding for Nonprofit Public Interest Law Firm

“Constructive provided a tangible set of products that helped us project the best of what we’re about.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
July 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Constructive designed and developed a new website and brand identity. After a full day of on-site meetings and workshops, they generated both the front- and backend, and integrated a timeline feature.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Washington, DC
Communications Director, Public Interest Law Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Internal feedback has been entirely positive. Constructive’s iterative process effectively incorporates feedback and prioritizes collaboration. Although their billing could be more detailed, their quality of work and ability to adapt to different work cultures make for a strong partnership.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the communications director for a nonprofit, progressive law firm and think tank.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

Our previous Drupal website had become a solely internal tool, because even though people respected our substantive work, the visual and functional aspects of the site were too much of an obstacle. We needed to build an entirely new website from scratch and form a new brand identity to go with that site.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

To start, Constructive sent three or four of their web and brand design people from New York to visit our office. They walked us through a full day of workshops and conversation about what we wanted and why, to build the foundation for the following months.

They did both backend development and frontend design and included two key features: case timelines and relevant images. Litigation is the core of what we do, and now visitors can trace our involvement through any case to its current point, with documentation as relevant. Constructive was also able to build the site through a marriage of striking but relevant images, and content related to the subject matter of each page. They also developed marketing materials that we're going to debut soon.

What is the team composition?

We had a dedicated project manager, but we also interacted with Constructive’s president, a visual designer and a web developer. There were plenty more people behind them as well.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

We did a comprehensive search and put together a portfolio of almost a dozen shops. We cut down that list based on some criteria and feedback from myself and my bosses, and came to a recommendation of Constructive and two other shops. They nosed out a local competitor because of their experience helping intellectual nonprofits become more accessible to the general public. They brought visual expertise as well as a librarian’s sense of data, which shone through for us because of the amount of pages and content on our site.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent $120,000 so far.

What is the status of this engagement?

We’ve been working together since July 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The final products and the whole experience really bear out our initial judgement that Constructive was the right company to go with. Everybody I’ve spoken with internally is proud to show off the new materials. We don't have a quantitative analysis though; it's very qualitative so far. 

How did Constructive perform from a project management standpoint?

They have a solid iterative process of taking initial ideas, producing a draft product, getting feedback within a certain time period, reflecting that feedback in a follow-up product, making any edits, and then producing an approved product. Our project manager was great at handling any questions that my bosses had.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Most consultants I’ve worked with, in my almost 10 years, provided very little value for the dollar, but Constructive provided a tangible set of products that helped us project the best of what we’re about. They also need to be credited with adapting to different organizational cultures. They do it every time they take on a new client and they've had to learn ours.

Are there any areas they could improve?

This was a really large expenditure for my organization, and I think consultants can get used to a certain way of billing. I have no doubt that their time is worth what it's worth though.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding Strategy for Direct Care Workforce Nonprofit

"They helped us produce something that completely transformed how people see us in the field."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Nov. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Constructive offered content management and branding strategies as well as web design services for a national non-profit organization.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
New York, New York
VP of Policy, Direct Care Workforce Nonprofit
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Their work resulted in an improved site that more effectively communicates the organization’s identity to audiences. Their work stayed on budget, met deadlines, and was worth the price. They’re knowledgeable and personable, and offer everything needed for excellent web development.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the vice president of policy, and I oversee the research and communications division for a national non-profit organization that's focused on strengthening the direct care workforce. We consult with long-term care providers on how to deliver better care and we advocate for federal and state policy reforms.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

We needed to redesign our website for it to address specific areas such as strengthening our brand, delivering better content, designing information in a user-centered way, and implementing technology that made the site robust and easy to use. Our previous website was dense, full of too much information, and difficult to navigate. It wasn't visually appealing, which hurt our brand and online traffic.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We hired Constructive to help us understand and identify our website's strengths from its weakness, which we needed to eliminate or modify. They helped us strategize to develop a website that was intuitive, easy to navigate, neatly organized, and visually appealing. We needed help figuring out how to differentiate ourselves from our competition and how to convey the diversity of our services, which range from research, policy, and consulting. We wanted to share the work we do in different parts of the country as well.

They helped us plan out a website that enabled our audiences to better understand why we are unique in our field and what type of work we do at the local, state and national levels in addition to conveying key components of our brand.

What is the team composition?

We interfaced with everyone from the president and CEO to the web coders, the strategic designers, the graphic designers, and the project managers. We had access to a number of people in different parts of the firm, which was really helpful to us because we had questions related to various aspects such as visual aesthetics, web content, or higher level strategy.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

I discovered them at a national conference for strategic communicators on social change issues. They were exhibiting a new product they developed that helped social change organizations better present their long-form reports. I met their CEO and one of their project directors, and we talked about the product they were pitching and their services.

My organization needed a new website for a variety of reasons, and it became clear that they offered the right approach for us as they shared their resources and answered my questions. I could see the caliber of their work was high quality, and it was the type of brand we wanted to have. We looked at their client resources and made sure they could answer any questions we had.

They also had a long history of working with other mission-oriented organizations, which was important to us because we wanted to work with a firm that really understood the importance of improving people's lives. Overall, we were confident they were the right people to work with.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent about $200,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together November 2016, and we're working with them on new projects now.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Our site reached about 78,000 people with 232,000 page views after launching last year, so we are reaching a sizable audience with our site and web resources. This emphasizes the importance of having a site that is intuitive and well designed. The qualitative difference is profound from our previous site.

When important audiences such as journalists, long-term care CEOs, or elected officials see our site, they're seeing an organization that matches who we are. For years we produced resources and offered analyses, and we are considered the country's leading expert on the direct care workforce, but our old website didn't reflect this. Now, our information is easy to access, and the visuals and site content match who we are and what we offer.

We're seeing an uptick in service requests and interviews with major media outlets. We're also seeing more attention to publications, and the people we work with have increased confidence in us. The site has transformed our brand and our relationship with our online audiences.

How did Constructive perform from a project management standpoint?

They were fantastic to work with. For the initial stages of the project, we interfaced once every two to three week. In the final stages of the project, we spoke almost every day. They have a team of people who are well versed in different aspects of branding, online engagement, and website development, so they are able to answer any of our questions or concerns; they were able to answer high-level strategic questions as well.

They are efficient, quick, and thorough as well as solution oriented. They're personable and they asked us hard questions that forced us to think through concerns that we hadn't thought about, which I appreciated because we wanted an open partnership. Our entire collaboration process reaffirmed that we had chosen the right firm to work with. We set a launch date and met it, which is pretty rare in the web development world. We communicate mainly through email and over the phone, but we also use Skype and Outlook tools.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Firms that largely work with for-profit corporations may not have understood our more complicated questions regarding how to properly represent an issue or population. They have experience working with organizations that are not only seeking technological solutions but are also aiming to improve our world.  

Their holistic approach, and their expertise with online solutions that are visually interesting and emotional, yet clean and organized, were beneficial to the project. They have staff members experienced in coding, graphic design, and product management; they provided all the services necessary for developing a good website within one shop, which was extremely helpful.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, it was honestly such a great experience. They met our budget needs, and they met our timeline. They helped us produce something that completely transformed how people see us in the field. I don't have any critiques at this point.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Spend a lot of time at the frontend brainstorming your desired specification. They will help you excel when they have a sense of your vision for your organization and the world. They will be able to develop a solution that works for you if you help them understand what you want to achieve.

4.5
Overall Score They were responsive and strategic at every step in the process, and our site is a stellar product.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    It's a rare to stick to your initial timeline when developing a website, but that’s what we did, and we met every single benchmark along the way.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    The final product was well worth what we spent, but I know some other nonprofits may not be able to afford them.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The final website is superb in design and navigation.
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would highly recommend them for their skills, experience, and product, but my colleagues should think about their total budget before hiring them.

Print & Digital Marketing for Science & Humanity Non-Profit

"In addition to performing excellent graphic design, Constructive acted as an extension of our marketing department."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
May - Dec. 2017
Project summary: 

Constructive created print marketing materials and a mobile-friendly website to support a fundraising campaign. Print deliverables included a campaign portfolio with various brochures and inserts.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York, New York
Jeff Sussman
VP of Marketing, American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Their graphic design and website layout are aesthetically pleasing and internally well-received. The complete scope of deliverables exceeded expectations. Constructive’s strategic approach to marketing and experienced counsel have proven them an invaluable resource.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the VP of marketing communications for the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. We’re a nonprofit organization that supports the mission of science for the benefit of humanity. We do that by raising funds and awareness for the Weizmann Institute of Science, located in Israel.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

We are launching a special three-year fundraising campaign in honor of the 75th anniversary of our founding. The challenge was creating print and digital marketing materials to support the major fundraising effort.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

After coming in and meeting with us, they began to immerse themselves in our work in order to understand their challenge and primary target audience. To do this, they studied past campaigns we’ve done, the culture of our organization, and whatever reading materials we’d provided.

They produced print and digital deliverables. The print material was a campaign portfolio, which is basically a printed folder with 2 brochures and various inserts. Specifically, the material explains reasons donors may wish to fund the campaign and details where the money will go. The miscellaneous inserts included one-pagers on different topics and collateral materials like a thank you card, stationery, and a letterhead. For the digital aspect of this engagement, they created a mobile-friendly website to host our print materials alongside a donation form. This allowed us to market the fundraising campaign through both print and digital channels.

What is the team composition?

Matthew Schwartz, their founder, was the primary point of contact. However, we worked with other members of his team as the project progressed.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

I met Matthew over 10 years ago and we had an initial meeting. I was impressed but the right project for us to collaborate on didn't come along. Once I started this project, however, I specifically recalled that he had an expertise in nonprofit and educational institutions. Additionally, I wanted people who produced beautiful materials from an aesthetic point of view. After viewing Constructive’s work, I was impressed with their design skills. This combination of relevant experience and strategic thinking made them a good fit.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project took place May 2017–December 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We presented their deliverables to our board of directors and received positive feedback. The graphic design and website layout were highly praised, attractive, and easy to read on all fronts. Constructive provided strategic thinking on how to organize the campaign which has proven valuable.

How did Constructive perform from a project management standpoint?

They’re well-organized and kept us informed of any needs or deadlines. Project progression was tracked using an online tool.

What did you find most impressive about them?

In addition to providing excellent graphic design, both print and digital, Constructive acted as an extension of our marketing department. They provided counsel on naming the campaign and branding strategies.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can’t suggest any significant improvements.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The print and digital design exceeded our expectations.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Web Development for Civil Rights Organization

"Constructive was invested in our success. It was apparent that they cared about the work that we do."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
Project summary: 

In need of a website that could clearly convey relevant information about their organization, the client looked to Constructive to develop and design the site, improving its user experience and accessibility.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
New York City, New York
Communications Director, Civil Rights Organization
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The website Constructive built has gotten an overwhelmingly positive response and even won a digital communications award in excellence. The client is pleased that the site now adequately serves their community, whose members can actually benefit from the information it provides.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Founded in 2001, we are a civil rights organization working to secure safer schools, prevent hate and discrimination, create equal employment opportunities, and empower local Sikh communities. We work towards a world where Sikhs, and other religious minorities in America, may freely practice their faith without bias and discrimination.

I am the Development and Communications director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

We had an outdated website with a functionality that wasn't up to par with what we wanted. We felt that our expertise, impact, and professionalism were not reflected on our website. More importantly, it was designed with our communities of users in mind. It was extremely difficult to find important information, latest news, resources, and understand our impact.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We hired Constructive to redevelop our entire site, both frontend and backend.

When we approached Constructive, there were a few things we were very clear about from the onset. When picking our partner, we wanted a company that understood nonprofit work and how to best communicate impact. We wanted a partner that could help us balance content and imagery to elicit support and action. We made clear that it was important for us to have a stable and friendly backend so that more people on our team can update content. Additionally, it was important to have enough flexibility in our design so that we would not need a developer for every little change, but have the appropriate guardrails to prevent the site from losing its aesthetic appeal.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

Google! We were looking for a developer that focused on nonprofits. Constructive stood out and they were attentive and considerate during our search. Happy we found them!

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

Anyone who has come across our site after our recent launch - a community member, a colleague at a partner organization, or a journalist - has been blown away by the site. In fact, the website just won a digital communications award in excellence from the Religion Communicators Council. They are impressed by the aesthetic, the presentation of the content, and their ability to find what they need quickly. It is not only a fresh face, but the website serves the community better and more effectively shares the work that we do. 

How did Constructive perform from a project management standpoint?

Constructive was invested in our success. It was apparent that they cared about the work that we do. Every person we worked with was friendly and invested. They gave us appropriate feedback and kept us moving along at a fair pace. There were times where we had to readjust our timelines and deliverables, but we never felt rushed or pushed into a corner during those conversations. They would let us know how our timeline would be affected and what would need to be shifted around.

What did you find most impressive about Constructive?

Firstly, they get nonprofits since they exclusively work with nonprofits and educations institutions. They understand how to translate a large website with high word counts to a website with an exceptional end-user experience.

Secondly, they are focused on laying a solid framework in the beginning. Constructive put a great deal of attention on the UX, which made the rest of the process of development much easier. The consultation and feedback rounds in the beginning of our relationship helped us focus on the needs of our user and how we can develop content that will fit into those parameters. We also believe that it helped us get through the design process a lot faster because we had a solid blueprint.

Are there any areas Constructive could improve?

Nothing substantial. With any large project, especially with a nonprofit strapped for time and resources, there are bumps, but we felt that the team worked with us through the challenges and had our best interests in mind at all times.

5.0
Overall Score We're very happy. At every stage of the process, they made sure that our work and impact shined through.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were really good on scheduling. But when there were some transitions, there were a little bit of delays there. However, they also worked really well with us when we had delays of our own.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They did an excellent job and went above and beyond to meet the needs of our organization at the best cost that they could provide. Although they were a bit pricier than others we were looking at, we felt it was well worth the value at the end of the day.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The website met and exceeded all of our expectations. At the end of the day, this website is really for community members, partners, and others. Everyone we have spoken to has given us positive feedback.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Definitely willing to recommend them. In fact, we already have.

Web Design and Development for Cardiology Non-Profit

"Constructive is a company which sticks to goals and objectives."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Feb. - Oct. 2016
Project summary: 

Constructive migrated encyclopedic data from the company’s existing site to a Drupal platform along with a UI/UX redesign and creating a rebranding strategy. 

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York, New York
Stephanie Gutch
Director, TCTMD/Digital
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Constructive provided exceptional quality while remaining cost competitive and delivering the project on time. 

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

The Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) is a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to helping doctors improve the survival and quality of life for people suffering from heart and vascular disease.

TCTMD is produced by CRF and is the leading online resource for cutting-edge news and information in interventional cardiovascular medicine, and beyond. Since its launch in 2000, TCTMD.com has sought to provide outstanding, comprehensive news and education in the ever-evolving field of cardiovascular medicine.

I joined CRF in 2008, and am the Director of TCTMD/Digital.  

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

TCTMD has been around for 16 years, and the website had only been through one or two significant changes. It's an encyclopedic website, with tens of thousands of slide presentations, news articles, and videos, so it was important that the new design encourage readers coming to the website for one type of content to also engage with other, related content. One of the biggest challenges we brought to Constructive was having a refresh of the design, and resurfacing our content while not bombarding our users with text and images. We needed a site that could grow with us and address business challenges, not just an aesthetic change. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We engaged with Constructive via an RFP [request for proposal] in January 2016, with a goal of launching the site ahead of CRF’s largest educational meeting of the year, TCT. The site needed to launch by the end of October, so there was a very tight timeframe.

Constructive dove right in, taking charge of project management and building out what our rebranding would look like. The site was built using Drupal 8, moving away from a proprietary .NET version. Not only did we have a redesign, we also went through a content migration and a complete overhaul of the infrastructure. We entered into the UI/UX phase right away.

Constructive began the design and coding phases simultaneously, with some of the most complicated pieces. Once the UI/UX was nailed down, they began implementing the design, as well as the content migration. Constructive addressed 2 of our biggest needs simultaneously, in order to help us meet our goals and deadline.

Beyond a redesign, Constructive also performed a rebranding for us, providing brand guidelines and a brand strategy. They also managed our transition to AWS servers.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

The TCTMD redesign team conducted focus groups and surveys to better understand what was most important to users and where the site could improve.

We coupled that valuable input with feedback from our own internal editorial and digital teams at CRF to refine our goals and objectives then partnered Constructive who helped strategize and execute this long-awaited update

We did go through an RFP process with 4 companies. We ultimately chose Constructive because they offered the most comprehensive proposal that best addressed our needs. They listened to us and clearly understood our challenges, not just in terms of timeframe and budget, but also the goal itself of the site: educating physicians and making sure that the world of interventional cardiology uses TCTMD.com as a source of education and news.

How much have you invested with Constructive?

Confidential. 

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with Constructive in February 2016 and we launched on October 24th. We have continued our partnership with Constructive and they provide development support for the site.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

There was an immediate test case of the new site. The website launched to coincide with CRF’s meeting, TCT - the largest interventional cardiology meeting in the US. TCTMD hosts all of the content from the meeting, posting presentations and live streaming in real time. There was ample testing done ahead of time to make sure it was a completely seamless transition from our old, rather antiquated site, to a brand-new one built by Constructive.

Not only did we change the look and feel, we moved the site to new servers which could handle the significant spike in site traffic around the meeting. It was a flawless transition, with Constructive being key in implementing our servers and hosting solution.

How did Constructive perform from a project management standpoint?

Project management was also seamless. We had weekly calls with Constructive's team taking part with our internal team as well as in person meetings to review UI/UX and designs. We received weekly updates on progress using 2 different project tracking systems, Basecamp and JIRA. When we got closer to our launch date, and also when we ran into issues, Constructive was incredibly quick to address our needs and concerns. More importantly, when we did find challenges, and when deadlines changed or shifted for whatever reason, Constructive remained adaptable and presented different ways to address those challenges. That kind of adaptability and flexibility is what made our project into a successful launch, and a major reason why we will continue to work with Constructive.

What did you find most impressive about Constructive?

Constructive completely understood the challenges we were facing in our space. Instead of only having one person be familiar with our project, it seemed that the entire Constructive team was fully invested in making our success be theirs, and vice versa. We didn't feel like we hired a company to perform a redesign of our website, but rather found a partner to work with us and bring our vision to life.

Are there any areas Constructive could improve?

Whenever we're working with a partner, communication is key. Constructive's team made itself available to us, often going above-and-beyond to make our launch successful. If anything, when we hit challenges or road blocks, additional communication could have helped us manage internal expectations more effectively. 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We gave Constructive a very tight timeframe. Communication of those timeframes, the closer we got to our launch, would be my constructive criticism. That being said, everything was ultimately successful and launched on time.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We never had an issue with cost variance. Constructive is a company which sticks to goals and objectives.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Constructive, and I hope we can find other projects to work with them on, beyond our website.

Branding Research & Messaging for Nonprofit

 

“Constructive was able to respond well to changes in the process ... and to determine what would be best for our needs.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Oct. 2015 - May 2016
Project summary: 

Constructive performed extensive research and crafted a brand positioning and messaging framework for a nonprofit.

The Reviewer
 
11-49 Employees
 
Montreal, Canada
Laurence Miall
Director of Public Affairs, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Constructive was adaptive, responsive to feedback, and adept at balancing differing perspectives. They demonstrated a clear understanding of the scope of this project from the very beginning, and their work has helped to increase the speed and efficiency of communication throughout the company.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is a major founder and grant maker in the area of systems change and social innovation, targeting environmental, social, and economic issues in Canada. We're based in Montreal.

I am the Director of Public Affairs and Audience Engagement.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

Our immediate impetus was finishing a strategic review process for the whole foundation, and clarifying our mission, in terms of unique offerings to the Canadian non-profit sector.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We enlisted Constructive for help in getting better at communicating our message. Our issues can be quite complex, so we needed a better structure and narrative for our work.

Constructive came to Montreal for a couple of workshops with our staff and a few board trustees. These were quite intensive working sessions in which Constructive facilitated conversations and gathered feedback from people here. Constructive embarked on extensive research of their own, which involved interviewing stakeholders in our sector and synthesizing that information in a lengthy report. Constructive also made some comparative analyses, looking at other foundations in the US, Canada, and the rest of the world, in particular regarding their online presence. They then crafted a brand positioning and messaging framework, which came as the final product of the work done by Constructive. It provided a narrative for our foundation.

Getting to this point took several iterations, so Constructive had to be responsive to our feedback and the different perspectives emerging from our foundation.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

We chose Constructive based on a recommendation from the executive director of a non-profit in Canada. He had met with Constructive at a conference in New York. We started a conversation based on that.

We had worked with other agencies for specific projects, but never encountered an agency with a track record in dealing with private foundations such as ours. Constructive's ability to understand the scope of what we wanted, combined with their background, was what convinced us to work with them.

How much have you invested with Constructive?

The total cost of Constructive's services was almost $100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with Constructive in October 2015 and wrapped up the project by the end of May 2016.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

We won't be able to point to specific metrics for our success for a while. One of the major projects that Constructive's work tapped into was reworking our website. Our engagement with Constructive ties directly to our new information architecture, which is currently under development. This has been a huge plus for us, and we wouldn't have been able to start the work as quickly without the structuring that Constructive helped us with.

A more informal result is that our staff has started using the messaging framework in their own work. This has tied into other communication resources that we've used. We have become faster and more efficient overall. It is much more time-efficient for us to be able to call upon a guiding document, than to keep reinventing the wheel.

How did Constructive perform from a project management standpoint?

The project should have taken less time than it did, but this was mainly our fault. It took time for us to approve things and put meetings together. Any organization that committed to completing the work faster, certainly could.

What did you find most impressive about Constructive?

With their past work in the non-profit sector, Constructive had a credible voice around the table, especially when speaking to people like our president, vice president, and trustees. With that authority came a certain amount of agility. Constructive was able to respond well to changes in the process made by us, and to determine what would be best for our needs. Constructive is very adept in ensuring that the client is getting what they want out of the process, as opposed to sticking to a cookie-cutter approach. I feel that no 2 clients' experience is going to be the same, and Constructive is adaptable to whatever the needs of the customer are.

Are there any areas Constructive could improve?

We were the first client that Constructive had outside of the United States. I think that this required a steep learning curve on both sides. It required both sides to work together before realizing that our cultural differences would come to the forefront and lead to some misunderstandings and inefficiencies along the way. There may even be some parts of the US where Constructive could encounter the same differences, so they could strive to find what those differences may be and gain more experience in navigating them.

4.5
Overall Score The experience has been generally good.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    The project was a little dragged out, but I think most of that is on us, not them.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We're in the rare position of being able to engage in projects of this kind. I would recommend Constructive, but I can only think of a few clients in the Canadian context that could afford to work with them.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    No one is perfect.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    They're expensive, but if a foundation has the budget for it, there's no one better.

Branding for Philanthropic Organization

"[T]hey gave us something that was very distinct."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Dec. 2014 - July 2015
Project summary: 

Constructive helped a philanthropic organization to develop a brand identity and design for their website.

The Reviewer
 
2-10 Employees
 
Washington DC Metro Area
President/CEO, Philanthropic Organization
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Throughout the process, Constructive listened to feedback and dealt with it appropriately. They were highly responsive and treated this project as if it was their own, seeing any work they put out as a representation of their company.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

We are a public health foundation that launched in July 2015.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with Constructive?

We were looking for several things around branding and identity, but we were very unsure of how to go about it. Constructive helped us clarify our mission, and build out our brand's identity.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.

I was looking for help with branding and a website initially. We did that work, but we also did a lot of strategic planning and design work, which of course was related to the brand and the website closely. Then there were many collateral pieces that we put together for marketing purposes.

How did you come to work with Constructive?

I did considerable research, and I think I came down to about 15 companies around the country. I spoke to all of them, and Constructive was the only one that seemed to understand what we were doing really. All the others seemed to try to fit us into a formula that may not have been what we needed. Some of the companies I spoke with were a little dismissive, or they didn't seem to want to spend the time to understand the foundation, and what we actually needed. Constructive's experience in the nonprofit sector was also a big factor.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

I believe it was about $75,000 or $80,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

I believe we started the conversation with them at the end of December 2014. We formalized the relationship around the end of February 2015. We got through the back and forth contract stuff, and the work began almost immediately, at the beginning of March [2015]. The project ended at the end of July. We've done some work with them since, and I think we will continue to.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

I don't have a ton of metrics to offer, but I can say that, universally, the response to their design work – the look and feel of the site, everything they did – was overwhelmingly very positive. 

When we were picking the logo, I involved everyone at our foundation in the process, which Constructive advised against. It helped me build some social capital internally, and it helped me understand how people were reacting to things. We went through quite a few logos, and the one that we ended up picking wasn't necessarily the most popular, but once we started using it everyone got on board – and now even the people that didn't like it initially are huge fans.

Throughout the process, Constructive listened to what I was saying and dealt with the feedback appropriately. They allowed their designers to apply the feedback creatively, and then they gave us something that was very distinct. 

What distinguishes Constructive from other providers?

Two things really stuck out for me with them. One is that they're very responsive. If you email or call them, they contact you as soon as possible. I know they have much larger clients than me, so it was nice to feel that my work was important. I also felt that one of the things they did well was that they treated the project as if it was their own. I think there was a sense that they weren't going to put any work out that doesn't represent them well. It really was a partnership even though they have much less of a vested interest in our success than we do.

Is there anything Constructive could have improved or done differently?

Nothing, I'm completely satisfied with the work they did for us.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They're always on time.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding & Websites for Large Research University

"[T]hey pivoted to something that I think ... is very purposeful, meaningful, and gratifying."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
Project summary: 

Constructive has provided branding, website development and redesign, as well as web presence campaign services for a large research university.

The Reviewer
 
5001-10,000 Employees
 
New York City Metro Area
Executive Director, Office of the President, Private University
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Constructive’s work has won a Webby Award, increased web traffic, and helped to raise over $1 billion. Constructive possesses a strong understanding of the needs of an institution with a large amount of data and content, and they know how to use branding to express what a company truly stands for.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

I work in the Office of the President for a large research university. I’m one of four executives reporting to a chief of staff, and then to the president. We have responsibilities that span the breadth of the institution, including information technology, general counsel, etc for all of our academic schools, and medical center.

What is your role and responsibilities, please?

I am the executive director for initiatives and special projects in the Office of the President.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What was your goal for working with Constructive?

We’ve done a number of projects together. Constructive began working with different departs within the university over six years ago. Their first project was on a web presence for a campaign that we were embarking on, which became the largest in the university’s history. We raised well over $1 billion, I think through channels one could say were related to the website that Constructive created. That process was with our Alumni and Development Office.

They went on from that project to work with our School of International and Public Affairs. They did a redesign of our website for that school, which is massive. I think it has be many hundreds, if not thousands, of pages, and includes a very comprehensive directory of our faculty. There was another firm that had been originally chosen for that project, and we just weren’t pleased with the work that was being done. So with the success that Constructive had had on the campaign website for the university – they won a Webby Award for that – and all the great traction that we got from that, we felt confident that they step in and kind of recalibrate the site for the School of International and Public Affairs. That was around four years ago I think.

After that, I engaged them on a few different projects, some smaller things that are very important to the university’s smaller kind of center websites, institute websites etc.

Most recently there have been discussions amongst our trustees regarding our university's global presence. We’re among the most global universities in the world in that we have so many faculty and students abroad. There’s so much happening here on our campus that involves global topics; everything from languages to culture and finance, and all these things. So we really wanted to find a way to express that, and to understand that more. What is the true global footprint of the university?

So we had conversations with the heads of our different schools. We talked to the deans and talked to some of the faculty who we believe are most engaged. We spoke to the heads of our centers. We have nine of these global centers around the world, so spoke to the people there. It became clear through those discussions that there was a need for us to have a web presence that allowed people at our university, students and faculty especially, to understand what others are doing.

For example if someone associated with our university is in Cairo and they meet up with someone that they’ve never met before, but that person is also with our university and is also there studying or researching, we wanted to somehow bring that information, that knowledge, that awareness through a digital space. In this way, before one leaves for these places, they would know that work is going on and be able to have the dialog and interaction with their peers. 

So we started to with Constructive on creating a website for the university. It was, I think, the largest initiative of its kind. It’s still in a beta form, we launched it last year. There's been a lot of publicity around the launch, and its a site that’s right off the University homepage, so it involved a lot of high-level contact. They worked directly with me in speaking to faculty and senior administrators.     

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their work.

When they started with us, the campaign website project they did, involved a lot of branding. It was about how they’re going to communicate this campaign. What is that brand? What is the new brand? How do we represent that through words and also visuals?

Then with this global project, there was a whole section of it that involved executive communication, which is in its own way branding. It’s how we represent this to our community and the different audiences involved, like the 24 trustees, the various faculty committees and all of that. So there was power points and messaging that was very, very thoughtfully crafted around all that.

I think part of what makes them unique as a firm is that they have a real understanding of institutions that have a lot of data and content. Trying to make sense of all that information is its own challenge. I

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Do you have any stats, or metrics, or general feedback to show the success of the project?

I can tell you that when we started on the global thing, that we had a small page on our public affairs site that was devoted to global topics. I think it was receiving about 100 hits on an average day. Today, the global site that they created gets well over 10 times that traffic. More importantly, the average amount of time that users are spending on the site has increased significantly. I forget what the number was for the original site, the first iteration of this, which was in public affairs. It’s almost not worth comparing, because it’s so different. Today, the users are spending more than a minute on the page at times, which is really significant for that type of site. I can tell you the campaign that they worked on, their very first project, it brought in over $1 billion that I think we can in some way attributable to their representation. 

Is there anything unique about them that really makes them stand out, compared to other companies?

I think part of what makes them unique as a firm is that they have a real understanding of institutions that have a lot of data and content. From my experience, a lot of firms aren’t calibrated to the core mission of higher ed and nonprofit. For many of us, this is about a greater purpose, in that we want to bring new research to life, we want to create higher knowledge and learning and all that. There’s a real sense with Constructive that that’s their mission too. In New York, they could be working with Wall Street, and I think they did earlier in their time as a firm, and they pivoted to something that I think to them is very purposeful, meaningful, and gratifying. It’s rare to find a partner that shares that mission. I think that’s part of why they’ve been so successful here, they seem to really get it. A lot of firms are more marketing focused. Branding should go to the heart of whatever you’re trying to communicate, and it has to be believed by the audience to be effective, and I think Constructive does well with that.

Looking back on the work so far, is there any area that you think they could improve upon or something that you might do differently?

They’re a boutique firm, I think there’s no more than a few dozen people, and it’s special that he has people who’ve been with him a very long time. It seems that many of his people are full-time, they may have an ownership stake, and they’re really invested. The limitation however is that as they grow, how do they accomplish that? They’re taking on new projects, they’re getting a lot of referrals, and they’ve done very good work. The growth piece is always a challenge for successful companies. In the next few years, it’s about going from the smaller size firm to something larger, and how to accomplish that without breaking the bank, and at the same time bringing on people that are as engaged as those that have been with him for a very long time.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Website & Branding for Private University Program

"[T]hey generally have very good ideas. "

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
3.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

Constructive provided branding and logo services for a small research program at a large university and are currently developing a website to communicate the program’s work to both academics and non-academics.

The Reviewer
 
5001-10,000 Employees
 
New York City Metro Area
Associate Director, Private University
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The Constructive team is professional, personable, responsive, and dedicated. They strive to support each other and the companies that they work with. An area for improvement would be strengthening their organizational skills as they grow.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

We are a small research program located within the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at a large private University in the Northeast. The research program revolves around studying attitudes and risk perceptions, behavior, policy preferences, and so forth, of mainly the American public on issues involving climate change. 

What is your role and responsibilities, please?

I'm the director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What was your goal for working with Constructive?

We really operate at that nexus of conducting original research that’s contributing to knowledge to scholarly conversation, but also wanting that research to be useful and intelligible to regular people, especially those people who are interested in mitigating the effects of climate change. 

We needed a website that was cutting edge in terms of how we’re communicating what we know and what we discover, and what’s relevant. So we felt that it was very important for us to have a very easy to navigate and compelling website. 

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their work.

We had not originally intended for them to do a whole lot of branding. We thought we had that nailed down, and that they were pretty much going to be working solely on website development. It turns out that in the course of our early conversations, we realized our logo is not as good as we thought. Our website has been significantly delayed because we’ve engaged in this branding exercise, and now this logo design work, which has to come first.

What was your process for selecting Constructive to work with?

It was made significantly easier by the fact that some other of our colleagues in other units here were already engaged with them to do new websites. So we were able to have very informal conversations with our colleagues about how that process was going. We put out some RFPs, and they were very responsive in the beginning with doing a little more due diligence than the other folks who bid, on who exactly we were, our particular mission, and what we’re doing. We got some good bids, and Constructive wasn’t the lowest or the highest, but they were seemingly the most committed, the most interested, and had the biggest appetite for working with us.

Can you provide a ballpark dollar figure for the size of the work that they’ve done for you?

We’ve added on extra work over the course of the project, so the amount has changed. In total, it's probably been in the $100,000 range.

What was the timeline for the project?

We started working with them last July, and the original timeline was maybe into the first quarter of this year. It’s been considerably extended because of the design and branding work. In total it’s going to longer than a one year engagement by the time we’re all done.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Do you have any stats, or metrics, or general feedback to show the success of the project?

These guys are professionals. We have found them to be very responsive, very dedicated to the work they’re doing with us, and they generally have very good ideas. There’s been a little bit of disorganization now and then, and some efforts made that, in hindsight, were a bit of a waste of time, but I think that’s par for the course.

We don’t have any stats or metrics yet. Informally, we have gotten feedback that people are very pleased with the beta version of the site.

Is there anything unique about them that really makes them stand out, compared to other companies?

They’re very personable. We felt like we got to know the individuals at the company, and they’re kind of a family, they support each other, and they’re supporting their clients to the best of their ability. We felt like it was nicely scaled for us, because we’re a relatively small outfit too.

Looking back on the work so far, is there any area that you think they could improve upon or something that you might do differently?

They’re a relatively small outfit, and I guess it seemed like they were stretched a little thin. They occasionally seemed a little over-committed, and had trouble organizing their time. 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 3.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Brand Strategy & Web Design for Nonprofit

"Constructive is phenomenal to work with."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
May 2015 - Feb. 2015
Project summary: 

Constructive provided a website redesign and delivered a new branding message platform for a nonprofit.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
San Francisco Bay Area
Communications Officer, Nonprofit
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The Constructive team has a passion for the projects they choose to take on and shows a strong commitment to them. The work they provided was fresh and current in terms of technology and design, and the website they built achieved the goal of fostering a deeper understanding of the organization.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

We are a global organization that works in the philanthropic sector. Our mission is to help philanthropist invest in climate change mitigation.

What is your role and responsibilities, please?

I oversee all institutional communications.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What was your goal for working with Constructive?

We had just gone through a two-year planning exercise, and we updated our business model and strategic plan. We partnered with Constructive to work on a message platform that reflected the new strategy, and also on a website redesign.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their work.

They worked on a little bit of branding and then some web design.

What was your process for selecting Constructive to work with?

We sent an RFP to six or seven firms that are some go-to firms in our sector and have worked with partners who really know our space well. We chose Constructive because of their focus on being able to translate data and pre-assigned concepts to the lay person, and their ability to make that data clear and compelling to wider audiences.

Can you provide a ballpark dollar figure for the size of the work that they’ve done for you?

The branding piece of it was somewhere in the $35,000 - $50,000 range, and then the web design was in the $70,000 to $80,000 range I believe.

What was the timeline of this engagement?

The project started around May or June of 2014, and lasted until February of 2015.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Do you have any stats, or metrics, or general feedback to show the success of the project?

On the branding side, they created a brand handbook, which has everything from a new mission statement, institutional core values, differentiators; all the things that are core to an organization’s brand. It’s a really solid foundation for us to build on as we implement a strategy around institutional communication. So they did a great job for us there.

We’re also thrilled with the website. It’s fresh and current in terms of the technology and design. People who have spent some time with it understand, at a much higher level, what the organization does, which was one of our goals. So everything turned out wonderfully.

We have a pretty narrow audience, so things like Google Analytics and other online tools don’t necessarily reveal if we’re meeting our objectives. Anecdotally, I think we’ve received lots of really solid feedback. People understand what the organization is. We also seeing more of an uptick in terms of organizations and people wanting to know more and wanting to work with us.

Is there anything unique about them that really makes them stand out, compared to other companies?

They’re really great to work with. They’re a relatively small team, so you get a lot of attention, which is a good thing. They have a passion for the clients they take on and the work they choose to do. They’re really committed to it.

Looking back on the work so far, is there any area that you think they could improve upon or something that you might do differently?

It’s hard to differentiate between areas where my organization can improve and areas where they can improve. There may have been little things here and there, but nothing really worth mentioning.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer