Case Study: Zūm RFP Refresh

Role: art direction, design
Zūm is a company reimagining the student transportation system. The core business relies on submitting detailed RFP documents to school districts in order to win new contracts. These 150-page bids outline our entire offering and directly support the company’s main source of revenue.

Over time, the RFP design had become an inconsistent mixture of different eras of Zūm’s brand, pieced together by members of the sales, marketing, and leadership teams. As the Brand Design Lead, I had been looking for opportunities to address our identity system more holistically, which would allow our team to work faster and smarter. I saw an opportunity to update our outdated RFP documents while also pitching strategic evolutions to our overall brand system.

Success meant getting the whole RFP updated for an upcoming submission deadline. It was important to alleviate pain points experienced by the sales team, such as the template becoming unorganized or having uneditable text. The design should stand out from our competitors, position us as a thought leader, and catalyze decisions about our typography and patterns. This process should help educate our CEO on the components of our brand system and build excitement and buy-in for refreshing it.

As a new brand element, I explored patterns based on photos I took of our school buses and classroom supplies.

Setting context in our first stakeholder review with the CEO and CMO was important. I guided the meeting by first reiterating our success criteria, why this work is meaningful, and how it supports our brand development. We then presented a variety of options, designed to show range—some close to the current brand system and others that explored new ideas. 

The final design synthesized a few of the explorations. By using this project to test new brand elements, we were able to successfully push our whole identity system forward. We added an expressive typeface to our palette and developed ownable patterns based on our school bus fleet.

We won the first contract that our new RFP design was used for, and the sales team confirmed that the updated template doc improved upon the pain points they had outlined for us in the research phase. In addition, our marketing and design team earned buy-in from our CEO and was set up well to continue with the next phases of the brand refresh process.

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