Strategy • Brand Strategy • Digital Experience

Stowers Institute stays true to humble roots while showcasing distinctive, world-class research

The Opportunity

The Stowers Institute has become an established name within the international medical research community. Still, they sought to refine and refresh their brand to better reflect their company culture and mission. Furthermore, they wanted to create a framework that would inspire partners to follow their lead and share in the message. The company indicated that a website overhaul would serve as a signature execution of the new brand.

Rooted in Legacy

The Stowers Institute was incorporated with an initial donation in 1994 by James (Jim) E. Stowers, founder of American Century Investments, and his wife Virginia Stowers. Both were cancer survivors. Over the next decade, the couple endowed the Institute with gifts totaling more than $2 billion.

Upon its inception, Jim and Virginia were integral to many of the non-scientific decisions, including facility design and branding. As a result, the refined brand needed to reflect not only the Institutes legacy but its future and the discoveries that would help humanity.


Stakeholder Interviews

Performed brand interviews and reviewed findings with more than 20 members of the Institute, working in varying functions and levels.


Peer Reviews

Audited the assets of not only the Institute but also that of eight peer organizations to help shape the Institute’s distinguishing characteristics.


Content Reduction

The Institute wanted to streamline its navigation and reduce its content by 50%. An analysis of Google data supported this requirement.

The Approach

Sparkcade worked in two phases with the Stowers Institute. We 1.) created a new brand strategy and guidelines for the organization and 2.) overhauled their website as a reference example of the revised brand. The efforts included:

  • A review of existing brand strategies, plans and research, and external secondary sources. We also conducted primary research to develop strategic insights for brand theme opportunities and concepts

  • Creating a high-level brand strategy based with refined visual identity and voice. The strategy included concepts and examples of integrated marketing approaches

  • Providing website requirements definition, facilitation and project management to define scope for the new website

  • Defining a new website information architecture, user experience and visual design

  • Creating select content and providing SEO consultation


While there was an intent to maintain the Institute’s origins within the brand, interviews and research revealed a fierce competition for top-shelf scientist and support talent. The need for continued recruitment became a key point in decisions made in both project phases.

Based on the insight, we included additional competitors in the second phase of research, ensured inclusion in all elements of the revised brand strategy, and used as a criteria when evaluating the final website designs.

Finally, the key insight ensured focus on elements, such as mobile and certain marketing platforms, where the Institute historically had not seen a great deal of use, but better positioned them for the future.


Brand Strategy and Purpose



Corporate and Brand Identity

Digital and Website Design




Campaign Development

Creative Execution

The Results


Content Reduction

Not only did we help achieve the 50% reduction in content, but the navigation menu was simplified based on usage data from eight to three primary items.


Traffic Increase

Even with the reduction in content by 100s of pages, we provided SEO recommendations that have helped result in a traffic increase post launch of the redesigned website.


Buy In

Based on client feedback post launch, the execution of the new brand and website has inspired internal partners to adopt the new standards.

Previous Website

Redesigned Website

Tell your story

In conducting brand interviews, we identified distinguishing characteristics in the Stowers Institute’s culture that differentiated them from competitors. It’s one of nine key selling points — one that’s often overlooked. Let us help you unlock your story.

Optimize your results

Great websites are more than beautiful design — though we love that, too. In a review after launch, Sparkcade helped the Institute not only maintain but achieve 11% more web traffic. That’s done with proper insights and then making smart decisions about content.

“We’ve received great feedback on the site, and much of that credit goes to Sparkcade for all the behind-the-scenes work they did for us. We are already thinking beyond the launch on ways to further improve the site. Momentum is high to keep the new website a very dynamic place to visit. All of the guidance and assistance Sparkcade provided throughout the process was tremendous.”

Kristin Kessler

Stowers Institute Project Lead

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Brent Bowen

Founder and Chief Storyteller

(913) 785-3576

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