Brand identity

Coursera Rebrand

The new face of Coursera

Design Leads - Sarah Lynch, Tousue Vang
Director of Brand - Stephanie Hale
Brand Manager - Emily Keller-Logan
In collaboration with
Product Designers - Eunyong Ryu, Vinh Tran, Nancy Lee, Lawrie Sisley, Geoff Schuller, Neil Dodd


Beginning a new era

As Coursera approached its 10th year we needed to rebrand to reflect our growth and mission to make education accessible to all.

I was part of an ambitious project to completely overhaul Coursera's brand to align with where the business was heading.

Creating a successful brand is truly a group effort that couldn't be achieved without close collaboration, so a massive thank you goes out to the team listed above for their contributions. Below you will find the work I contributed to the project and my design rationales.

Skip to final designs


  • Need more serious look for enterprise business
  • Inefficient tools eating up time and resources
  • Siloed marketing and product teams


Create an iconic brand identity

  1. Evocative of our brand personality
  2. Distinctive enough to stand out
  3. Long-lasting with room for future growth
  4. Usable, scalable solutions


Bringing it home

The internal Brand and Product teams worked closely with one of the world’s top branding agencies on the brand strategy and initial design concepts, but we ultimately decided to develop our visual identity in-house.

My co-design lead and I were tasked with creating a visual identity to express Coursera’s bold vision and impact.

We had a new brand strategy to work with, and after reviewing 10 previous design concepts, we had plenty of insights into what the team was looking for our new brand to communicate and what hadn’t been working.

early insights

Knowledge gained


  • Needs to feel both premium and accessible.
  • Must feel human.


  • Go more vibrant/rich with colors.
  • Focus on more expanded palettes.


  • Lean into cleaner, more modern type approaches.


  • Focus on humanity, confidence, and realism.


  • Focus on strong, simple (but not childish) style.
  • Lean into organic shapes, gestures.


Brand attributes and personality

Our brand personality and attributes are the foundation for how we show up in the world, and each design decision maps back to these core qualities.

We are magnetic, drawing people in and amplifying their potential. We uplift learners on their path to progress. We are trusted and seen as a premium destination. We are inventive and committed to democratizing access to education.







My creative partner and I each presented 2 rounds of concepts which pressure tested our ideas against key touchpoints and tactical considerations. Then we collaborated to refine the best parts of each concept until we reached a direction the entire team was aligned on and felt excited about.


Laying foundations

Once we had a direction established we needed to refine each area of our visual identity based on the team's feedback.

We split up the work based on who primarily drove each section of the identity during concepting, and checked in with each other between reviews to make sure we were aligned.

I worked on color, type, imagery, and illustration. My partner took on the wordmark/symbol, co-branding, and compositions.



The new color palette draws from the natural world to create a calm, uplifting, and dynamic experience. Together, our primary brand colors (white, blue, purple, orange, and yellow) form a sunrise, reflecting the brighter tomorrows learners are creating for themselves. The cool tones bring forward the Trusted brand value, while warmer accents create an Uplifting and Inventive feeling.

I audited our competitors' brand colors to ensure that ours are ownable and distinctive amongst the competitor landscape, and communicate that we are both the premium and accessible choice in the EdTech space.

Color Library

I collaborated closely with the Product team to create extended color palettes for use cases like button states, badges, dark mode, and more. We defined usage guidelines that made it easier for designers to know when to use certain colors and which shades passed WCAG accessibility standards. Together, we built a color library that drives efficiency, consistency and scalability.



When selecting a type family for Coursera I took into account a number of factors. Type is the visual expression of our brand's tone of voice so it needed to feel warm, conversational, informed & confident.

To make learning accessible to all we need to display text in dozens of different languages, so our type family needed to support all of the languages we translate content into.

I also had to consider the added page weight of serving many different fonts, which creates a barrier for learners who live in countries where data usage is expensive.

Another thing that is expensive is licensing fonts for the volume of web and app traffic we receive, so cost had to be a consideration.

And it had to look great. Enter Source Sans Pro.

I chose this sans serif type family for its unfussy, modern appearance. It's round enough to feel friendly without being childish and narrow enough to feel at ease while remaining readable.

Source Sans Pro is open source and free for commercial use, translating to huge cost savings each year. It's also available within Google Suite, so internal documents and presentations could be on brand. Bonus!

This type family supports 582 languages, allowing Coursera to always look like Coursera no matter the alphabet.


Bringing together color & type, I collaborated with the Product team to establish web background and font colors that met WCAG accessibility standards so our web experiences remained accessible to people with disabilities.



Our learners are at the center of everything we do. The photography direction we established heroes the learner, demonstrates the impact of learning and authentically represents our global community.

Image library

I identified the different imagery families we would need to fully express our brand story. Product features would show our product in context so a learner can know what to expect when they sign up. Patterns & details focus on the wide variety of subjects taught on Coursera. Learning and Working bring you into the tangible experience of taking a course and applying what you've learned. Portraits and Outcomes show the benefits of learning on Coursera, like increased confidence in interviews or more time to spend with family. I started building out an image library using these image families, which significantly cut down the time spent searching for and reviewing images to use.

Image guidelines

I created imagery guidelines that our production designers, agencies and institutional partners could leverage when selecting, providing or shooting photography for us. The below guidelines apply across imagery families to establish the overall art direction for Coursera's imagery.

Images that feels like real life

Coursera's naturalistic photo style feels like something you could see with your own eyes and has rich color, natural lighting, and authentic settings.

Celebrate differences

Be authentic. Be respectful. Accurately portray dress, setting, and cultural norms.

Pay attention to the emotion of the scene

Images tell a story, so the expression on the subjects' faces should makes sense for the scene. No bored faces, no forced smiles.

Be inclusive

Representation is about making sure your customers and prospects see themselves in your content and that your content reflects society. Some places to start are diversity in:

-Body size

Counter stereotypes

We have a duty to help people see their own potential reflected in the world around them. Use a critical lens regarding the roles and power dynamics being portrayed.

Don't be on the outside looking in

We want our photos to make the viewer feel like part of the story. Avoid images with unnatural angles, people with their back to the camera, or at an impersonal distance.

Curated wardrobe

Styling should use curated pieces from the subject's real wardrobe supplemented with clothing in shades from our brand palette.

Natural hair & makeup

People should appear like they would look on a normal day. Keep styling well-groomed but natural. Avoid dramatic makeup unless that is typical for them.

Authentic locations

Whenever possible use the subject's real home or workplace. Backgrounds should be real and contextual, but not overly busy.

Styling the scene

Bring the brand into the scene with props, backdrops or walls in tints and shades from our brand palette.



Illustration is crucial to brand expression within the learning experience where photography can feel out of place. To offer courses at scale most learners don't have 1:1 interactions with instructors, so our illustration style needed to do a lot of heavy lifting to make the brand feel more human during emotionally-driven points in the learning process like motivating a learner to continue after getting a bad grade.

Note: The above illustrations are stylistic representations done by other artists.

Aligning on a direction

I started by exploring tactile illustration styles that had a human touch and grouped them by drawing medium; pen, marker, paint, pencil and vector. I evaluated each style at 3 different scales; marketing icon, narrative icon and spot illustration. Marketing icons are more functional, representing a simple idea and using the least amount of detail. Narrative icons express a more complex concept but fall somewhere between functional and expressive. Spot illustrations are the most expressive and employ the greatest level of detail.

The team liked the Vector style, which was sophisticated yet approachable, but also were drawn to the more expressive Marker style that created a sense of delight, so I took the best aspects of each to create a unique look for Coursera.

Icon & Illustration style

The illustration style I developed works at multiple scales and serves multiple objectives; from graphical representation of ideas, to elevating narratives, to sewing our brand identity throughout the product.

I want our icons and illustrations to feel like a family. I worked with the Product team on the new UI icons and built upon the language established by those symbols. I kept the line icon style of our UI icons and layered on more details, colors, fills, and organic forms.

Moving up the spectrum from functional to expressive, spot illustrations became looser and more imaginative. They maintained the layering of strokes and solids from our icons, but the forms became even more human, organic and approachable than the previous levels, allowing us to support emotive brand narratives.


Graphic device

A graphic device is a kind of shorthand for your brand identity. The Coursera workmark can be reduced to the "C" symbol, becoming a device we can use in a variety of ways to spotlight the learning opportunities and outcomes made possible with Coursera.

C supergraphic

The C supergraphic frames the learner, making them the heroic focal point. This creates the feeling that confidence is radiating out from them and subtly communicates that Coursera is behind them every step of the way.

C window

The C window serves as a lens into the world of Coursera — seeing the incredible progress our learners are making or taking us through the subject matter found on the platform.

C arc

The arc of the C can be used as a pathway between ideas, a representation of progress, or as a point of continuity connecting different layouts.


The new face of Coursera

Coursera’s new brand identity is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to make learning accessible, inclusive, and impactful for all. Each design decision is rooted in our brand strategy and expresses Coursera's personality, purpose and vision. The system as a whole positions Coursera as a premium learning destination where everyone is welcome. Its component parts feel warm, confident and aspirational — drawing people in, and supporting and encouraging them throughout their learning journeys.

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Problems Solved

Created a distinctive visual identity built upon our brand's personality and ethos which will serve us for many years into the future.


Built a color library that feels premium yet friendly, and will drive efficiency, consistency and scalability for the team.


Visually embodied Coursera's tone of voice with a typeface that's unfussy, modern, and accessible to all.


Developed a video/photo style that authentically represents our global community while streamlining our photo direction process.


Designed an icon & illustration system that supports all brand & product communication from functional to our most expressive moments.


Created an iconic graphic device that enhances our brand identity and gives designers flexibility in creating on-brand compositions.