A curriculum with characters encouraged

Named after Max Warburg, a brave and determined young man who lost his battle to leukemia at age 11, the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum offers year-long language arts programs focused on reading books that inspire courage in young people. Since its inception in 1991, the program has expanded tremendously, reaching 99% of Boston public middle schools, as well as schools in Cambodia, the United Kingdom, and countless other locations around the globe. As the curriculum’s founders looked to further extend its reach, they realized they needed a suite of professional marketing materials. After becoming Thinkso’s 2015 Give a Brand! winner, the nonprofit received a vibrant new identity, complete with an engaging website and fundraising tools.

With the help of our sponsors, Thinkso completed Max Courage’s rebrand in one day. Here’s a look at the highlights.

The Max Courage logotype on a green and white hand brushed background.

We shortened the organization’s name to "Max Courage," which references “maximum” transformation and honors Max Warburg for being the superhero-like inspiration that he is.

A grid of four pictures with a young boy and girl and hand-painted patterns and type.

Images of children reading, photographed by Matthew Septimus, establish a focal point for the marketing collateral. In turn, those same children helped create the patterns and hand-painted typography that became key graphic elements of the identity.

The Max Courage homepage with the headline "Characters encouraged" and a split image of a girl and a lion that creates one hybrid face.

With web development partner Surprise Highway, we designed a clean, highly functional website that completely reorganized Max Courage's online content.

The Max Courage website about us page showing a variety statistics from their educational programs.

Textbook-like iconography and Max Courage identity elements are used as an overall visual approach to distilling information, presenting statistics, and engaging readers.

The cover and spine of the Max Courage book, "The Courage of Children, Boston and beyond."
A hand holds the book, "The Courage of Children, Boston and Beyond," with an orange Max Courage branded bookmark.

We redesigned the book cover for The Courage of Children: Boston and Beyond, an anthology of students' essays published annually by Max Courage.

Simple, inexpensive bookmark giveaways were created in multiple colors and feature courage-related quotes from students.

Close up of the Max Courage "Max Fellow" award medallion on a blue lanyard.
A person holding a Max Courage tote bag with the text, "You'll find it inside."

We redesigned the Max Fellow medal to better reflect the achievement it represents. The treatment of the name also established a model for sub-branding. The tote bag combines “Max Courage” with clever editorial to create messaging that’s both literal and inspirational.

A Max Courage postcard with a hybrid image of a boy's face and a space helmet and the text, "Heroes come in all shapes and sizes."

A series of split-screen photo illustrations pair children’s faces with characters from literature to underscore the power of literature in the development of personal courage.

A Max Courage brochure cover shows a boy in a ball cap holding an open book and the text, "Characters encouraged."

The overview brochure includes program information and unfolds to reveal a poster that boldly displays the organization’s new tagline, “Characters encouraged.”