Our Story

The History of Marion Design Co.

How can design empower radical change? How can students learning design, employ empathy to develop relational design practices? This is the story of a social design studio and the movements that changed how we consider community activism and design education.

Founded in 2016, Marion Design Co. began with 17 students, amazing neighbors, an empty bank and one 20ft. table. Without a real plan, but made aware of a real need, we meet with different members of the community- old-timers and newcomers.

A community that was once the thriving metropolis of the Midwest, was known as a bruised economy rooted in racial tensions. To many, Marion was the residue of a past with blighted storefronts, broken homes, and vacant warehouses. Through building relationships, the narrative of Marion began to change.

A story that stemmed from negativity and discouragement blossomed into one of hope and vision. While it may look like a logo or a website, the work of Marion Design Co. is heavily focused on collaboration, design thinking, and design advocacy.

By creating sustainable design solutions, we provide educational freedom to the community. Only through collaboration and synergy can we empower the community, propel each other forward, and reveal the true identity of our amazing city.




Branding goes beyond logos, typefaces and technical guidelines. It expresses something deeper about an organization as it acts as a reflection of its identity. Our brand architecture is broken down into five avenues: brand essence, audience, tone of voice, look and feel, and culture.

Brand Essence | At Marion Design Co. our creative interns are the heartbeat and our leaders are the backbone. The fundamental nature of Marion Design Co. stems from an authentic community of collaboration and empathy. A few terms that define us include: synergy, collaboration, people-first, and unity. Our people-oriented culture fosters synergy that enables us to use our skills to empower each other and our community.

Our Culture | We work hard, take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, support one another, and lead by example. We ditch the recipe and trust our gut. We show up each morning ready to practice the hard parts over and over. We are never bored because the work is never done. We faceplant in the mud, get back up, set our fear on fire, and exceed the expectations put before us.We believe in people and in the future of Marion.


The Mark

Our mark is rooted in our place in Marion, both physically and symbolically.

The “M” fits within the map of the downtown square to show how we exist within our city. It also relates to our physical presence within the old bank building on the square. The speech bubble communicates how we value conversation, listening, and authentic relationships.

Through creative placemaking, design thinking, and innovation, we tackle urban renewal, revitalization, community branding, and identity development. We hope to be a voice that unites people together to ultimately revive, propel, and empower Marion.

Marion Design Co over Downtown.jpg