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Did you know women earn 60 percent of all undergrad and master’s degrees, but only 37 percent of MBAs? What gives? And how do we power up for change?

Forté, a nonprofit that launches women into top-level business careers, partnered with Zehno to amp up its brand awareness to support its goals of increasing B-school enrollment for women, from 28 percent to 50 percent, and paving the way for more women in management and leadership roles. Now its fearless new brand lives up to its track record of changing the business world.



  • Increase the pipeline of women earning MBAs.
  • Grow the Forté brand by connecting role models with the next generation of business leaders.
  • Increase event and conference participation.
  • Strengthen fundraising efforts.


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Average female MBA enrollment at sponsor schools climbed to 36.2 percent, a 3.9-percent jump since 2011, with 12 schools achieving 40 percent or more women enrolled.

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Forté increased membership from 60,000 to 75,000 individual members and 70 to 120+ sponsors.

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Event attendance increased across all 40 live and 50 online events, including a 47-percent increase for the MBALaunch program, 52-percent increase for the MBA Leadership Conference and 35-percent increase for Forté Forums.







Forté Forums event package

The millennial mindset changed how young women viewed women in leadership roles. Being the boss wasn’t a pipe dream anymore, and millennials knew women could make it to the top. However, Forté’s research revealed young women didn’t know what the actual steps were to get there. We focused on showing them how.

When we approached the event package for Forte Forums — a free event for women considering an MBA that’s held in 12 cities across the U.S., in Canada and the U.K. — we tailored the messages with a set of actionable steps. Recipients could envision how the event would get them closer to an MBA and their desired careers.

We used the step-by-step process for emails, flyers and a microsite that told recipients exactly what Forté wanted them to do and reinforced how young women could achieve their goals.

Website reskin

Two years prior to the brand refresh, Forté redesigned its entire website. We recommended that Forté bring the look and feel of the website in line with the new creative concept and reorganize all home page elements based on what Forté wanted audiences to do.

The updated look included:

  • Changing the monochromatic color scheme to the vibrant magenta, gold, seagreen and turquoise colors reflected in the brand.
  • Refocusing navigation items to address audiences, such as “College Students” and “Pre-MBAs,” rather than a full suite of topics so that the visitor can immediately identify with what content is curated specifically for her or him.
  • Replacing three competing navigation bars that repeated CTAs and contained too many items with one main navigation focused on four audiences and a sub-navigation with items that apply to all audiences.
  • Using the banner area for brand promotion only.
  • Bringing the Business 360° Blog front and center, showcasing its mix of inspirational profiles, industry insiders and career tips.
  • Differentiating promotion features for events and the Business 360° Blog.




“Let’s power up for $10” development campaign

Forté wanted to inspire its member base of advanced female professionals to make first-time gifts to its foundation. In response, Zehno developed a strategy for a weeklong email campaign that culminated with International Women’s Day on March 8.

Playing off the U.S. Treasury’s announcement that it would put a woman on the $10 bill, Zehno planned content for five emails that spotlighted a different female leader, past and present.

But why wait for Congress to decide? The Let’s Power Up for $10 campaign called for members to put their $10 to work now for future women business leaders. Messages were slanted for Forté members who could easily share with their friends to encourage participation.

Following the campaign, the U.S. Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman beat out Beyoncé on the new $20 bill.

What Zehno did

  • Brand vision: key messages and tools shaped per audience.
  • Flagship content development: event and program collateral and microsites.
  • Website reskin and content planning.
  • Video and photo shoots.
  • Development campaigns: emails and webpage.
  • And more.

Why a brand refresh was the answer

When Forté partnered with Zehno, it knew its brand hadn’t kept pace with audience growth over the past 10 years because it tracked how well its communications were connecting through e-newsletter metrics, annual membership trends, event registration and attendance, program participation, member surveys, website visits and social media engagement.

But Forté had a solid brand platform, a robust marketing communications plan, and an impressive audience and body of market research — all critical ingredients for a brand refresh. Plus it had just embarked on a five-year strategic plan that pushed the foundation to double its membership base, budget, programming and staff — and to serve more women and increase enrollment at sponsor schools to 35 percent.

To accomplish these goals, Forté’s messaging needed to address three big issues head on:

  • Many young women don’t understand the limitless career paths available in business.
  • Female business role models aren’t readily accessible to students on campuses.
  • Women are sometimes risk-averse and likely to stay close to home for their education and employment.

Forté’s new creative concept, “Let’s turn it up!” encourages bravery, confidence, leadership and networking among Forté’s 75,000 members. Using bold colors and headlines with a “let’s do this together” spirit, Forté now inspires women at all levels — from Gen Z students to C-level leaders — to advance in business.

A key ingredient of the brand rollout is a role model campaign that features women business leaders ranging from Twitter’s senior director of global business marketing to Citibank’s manager of U.S. investments to a global hostel entrepreneur. These corporate VIPs, industry trailblazers and daredevil icons — photographed like superstars — share knowledge of how they charged up their careers.

Since launching the role model campaign, visits to Forté’s Business 360 Blog, where the role model profiles and videos are housed, jumped by 59 percent — from 9,898 to 15,723 — in five months.

Tips for your team

  1. Focus your brand through powerful profiles. Your stars need to be as good as Fast Company’s.
  2. Use striking facts paired with snippets of information to reinforce key messages.
  3. Carve a clear pathway for each audience segment to act. Sync up audiences with the right events and outcome stories.

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