GR 604: Student Project - Visual Strategy Guide: Borders

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Borders History




Competitive Analysis


Audience Profiles

Soul + New Mission

Description + Objective Keywords


Brand Grid Current Future




Brand Attributes

01 HISTORY Established in 1971, Tom and Louis Borders, brothers, came together to create a place where students can purchase textbooks at affordable prices since they too were unemployed undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Michigan. The first store opened in Ann Arbor, Michigan and grew to about 1,200 stores by 2003 worldwide. However, since the implementation of a free rewards program and free Wi-Fi service through Verizon, the company began losing money and eventually, in 2011, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

I loved that store! I used to go to book signings all the time.



BRAND DESCRIPTION Borders is the epitome of the go-to space, almost like a secondary home for customers to shop, meet up with one another and exchange thoughts. Borders offered everything books, textbooks for college students and a variety of entertainment items that encompassed the ‘cool meets knowledgeable’ vibe.

REBRANDING OBJECTIVE Home away from home, Borders always provided a space where people can find what they need, ask expert staff for further information, and never feel rushed to leave. Borders will continue creating these spaces to offer numerous opportunities for more people to discover, discuss and learn from one another.

The best part of this job was interacting with customers and participating in the many community outreach events it had, such as book signings and teacher appreciation events.






Founded by brothers, Tom and Louis Borders during their academic years at the University of Michigan.

A sister company, Book Inventory System (BIS) was founded and served as a wholesaler.


Borders hired Robert DiRomualdo to expand the company.

1994 Borders launched a toy store called All Wound Up with an assortment of toys and novelty items.

Borders was sold to Kmart for $150 million.





Borders launched an online website for the first time:

Borders created a free loyalty program called Borders Rewards.

Borders begins rebranding project.

Borders was renamed as Borders Group, Inc.


Borders partnered with Amazon to sell their items online.

Borders filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This was the end of Borders worldwide.



MISSION STATEMENT To offer numerous opportunities for more people to discover, discuss and learn from one another.




RESOURCEFUL Providing a sense of discovery with a wide selection of literacy and expert staff of varied topics and genres.

ENJOYABLE Spaces where all can be themselves and feel some level of comfort for an enjoyable experience.

INSPIRATIONAL Creating a community to inspire one another and allow creativity to soar through discussion.

SOUL Home to knowledge, discussion and connection.

02 BORDERS PAST This brand grid demonstrates the current personality, styling and theme of Borders.


BORDERS FUTURE This brand grid demonstrates the future styling and theme of Borders with focus of collaboration, playfulness and connection.


03 AUDIENCE PROFILES The following profiles are fictional and are used to create a niche audience for the rebrand expansion as well as offer some insight of whom might shop at the new and improved Borders.

College Student Keri Sanchez | 19 Student at Rutgers University New Brunswick, New Jersey




Keri always finds a quiet place to study because she strives to be a straight A student. Whenever unsure, Keri heads to the nearest bookstore or library because she’ll find the information she needs. Keri enjoys spending time on her computer because she can play games with them online. Keri’s favorite thing to do is to binge watch shows because she creates a new post on her blog of her reviews with each show she watches. She is most inspired by research because she appreciates the amount of time and effort that’s invested in finding the “right” answer to numerous theories. As a biology major on track to medical school, Keri gets most of her motivation from participating in online groups because she can share notes and receive help with studying. Keri invests most of her time on the web because she can find information and videos to reassure her decision to become a doctor someday.

Work from home Dad Ty Johnson | 36 Remote Web Designer Toledo, Ohio




Ty is a web designer because he loves having the ability to teach clients ways to improve their website. He loves to cook because he is always able to go online and find videos or a forum where others are happy to help. Ty enjoys being a dad because he can share memories with them through online games, watch movies or learn new things by watching how-to videos. He enjoys being a part of online blogs because he feels he always has a support system ready to help at any time. Ty gets most of his design inspiration from the internet or online chat rooms because it’s convenient and efficient. He is most inspired when he can attend live events online because he can watch from the comfort of his own home. Ty loves watching videos online that deconstruct and construct broken products because he can find a level of relativity to how he creates or improves web sites for a living.

The Teacher Karen Linga | 40 10th Grade History Teacher Houston, Texas




Karen looks forward to finding new material for the school year because she likes to teach her students the best topics. When she gets stuck or unsure, Karen goes online because she knows information will be found in seconds. She loves to spend time on the web because she gets to connect with her friends. Karen really enjoys showing documentaries to her students because they’re easy to find online and fun to watch. She is inspired by the power of the internet because she never has to worry about not finding an idea to use. Whenever Karen feels unhelpful or uninspired, she quickly relies on her computer because she can chat with her other friends who are also teachers to share ideas. She loves watching web conferences because she can learn a great deal and share with her students to inspire them.

VP of Marketing Amira Moody | 28 Vice President of Marketing Chicago, Illinois




Amira always has multiple tabs open on her laptop because she finds it useful to search for anything she is unsure of. She tends to use the web a lot because her clients often ask her for resources to use to better understand marketing. Amira enjoys new challenges or trends in the market because she attends online webinars to learn all that she can. She appreciates the beauty of Wifi because she gets to stay in touch with her clients at any time of day from anywhere. Amira seeks inspiration through competitors’ websites because she finds opportunities that her agency can take advantage of. When Amira is out of the office, she loves to generate written content online with a group she’s a member of that helps one another become better writers. She loves the internet because she easily gets to familiarize herself with others’ ideas and opinions about any topic.

Artsy Mom Sky Levi | 45 Artist Brooklyn, NY




When she’s not creating art, she finds herself watching videos of art galleries because she wants to sell her pieces. Sky finds most inspiration by going online because the web always shows multiple ways to create the same painting. She enjoys spending time with her kids because she always finds them playing games on their phones. After a stressful day at work, she looks forward to finding her go-to place to relax and reflect on the day. Sky is always looking for new ideas because she likes to share them with other artists online. She spends a lot of time virtually touring art museums because she doesn’t have to leave the house and complete it at her own pace. Sky seeks inspiration on Google because she can find different blogs where she can contact someone for further information or help in general.

Retired Librarian Candace Goldman | 62 Retired Atlanta, Georgia




She loves to find new places to go daily because she does her own research online before setting out. Candace likes reading various blogs because she finds new people to talk about books with. Candace finds joy in searching the web because she has fun chatting with fellow librarians. She finds that reading material online is better because she gets to adjust the sizing of the text. She finds inspiration online because she knows she can find exactly what she needs. Candace is fascinated by online encyclopedias because they’ve made it so easy to search within the text. She is always inspired by her friends because they are the ones who introduced her to finding blogs and forums for all of them to communicate and learn from one another.

Interior Designer Jason Tang | 27 Interior Designer Salt Lake City, Utah




Greg loves to search for new materials and fabrics online because he can send screenshots to his team for feedback. When he faces intricate tasks, he relies on web research because he always finds a solution within seconds. He finds happiness in yoga because he gets to access the class from home along with his friends who log on as well. Greg is all about adventure because he sees himself flying to different destinations across the globe. Greg gets his inspiration when he is away from home but is trying to find that one place, he can feel comfortable. He finds himself learning a lot online through live streams because it’s easier than leaving the house. Jason isn’t a fan of spending too much time on the computer because he does his best work being able to touch the textures or visualize pieces in person.

The Chef Summer Shaheed | 41 Renowned Chef Tuscon, Arizona




Summer is full of knowledge because she can learn online with different forums and videos to watch or follow. She loves to log onto live streams because she likes to see how others cook certain meals. Summer enjoys the feel of a cookbook because being able to flip the page or write down notes feels better than tapping or swiping on a screen. She loves to cook the same recipe as someone else at the same time because she wants to see how each finish. Summer finds herself looking at old cookbooks because she thinks she can find secret ingredients in them. She tends to use a variety of spices in each of her dishes because she was informed by an online forum to try it. Summer isn’t a fan of always being online because she thinks being able to go outside and experience nature is the best way to clear your mind and get the best inspiration.

04 COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS The following competitors vary from current, adjacent and future competitors that reflect the direction of the Borders brand in reflection of the rebranding objective and narrative.


Amazon is the leading online retailer providing a variety of items available for purchase. Borders will be crushed for a second time as Amazon continues to grow strong.

For Your Entertainment leading specialty retailer of entertainment and pop culture merchandise in the US and online.

Barnes & Noble is a popular bookstore both online and in-store. This competitor sells the same or very similar assortment as Borders.

Support researchers and communicate discoveries that make a difference. Emphasizing the gap between education and professionalism.

Britannica is an online encyclopedia that is home to thousands of articles, biographies and more.

Best books and literary materials for kids to improve and develop educational skills. A leader in publishing and education for almost 100 years.

Leading retailer with the largest assortment offered in-store and online. Walmart distributes a large amount of books yearly.

One stop shop for all of your essentials whether in-store or online. Wide variety of books available through Target.

Provide students textbooks for rent or cheap prices to make education more affordable, especially for college students.

Offers global support for educators and students both remotely and in the classroom.


A unique selection of home fashions from around the world. Items used to create the “at home” space more comfortable and enjoyable.

A network of communities where people can dive into their interests, hobbies and passions. A community for everything you’re interested in.

A place to express, discover and bond over the stuff you love. Where interest connect you with your people.

A free online encyclopedia that is generated, created and maintained by multiple users across the web from around the globe.

Group messaging with people from personal to work to school. Create multiple group chats all in one place to keep the line of communication open.

The world’s largest independent bookstore. Providing every consumer options to choose from to bring the perfect story home.

Everything you need for all of your craft and art needs.

Discovery Education inspires educators to go beyond traditional learning to more digital and professional.

Offers the best products and services in projects, parties and home supplies.

Invests in innovative leaders in science, exploration, education and storytelling.


Secure, reliable video platform to power all of your communication needs including meetings, chat, phone, webinars and online events.

Everything you need to complete and send work from anywhere.

Share and enjoy all the video and music available with friends and family.

Skype keeps the world talking. Can be used for sending, receiving and sharing documents.

Microsoft Teams is the hub for team collaboration. This tool integrates the people, content and tools needed to be more engaged.

Slack is the new way to communicate with your team. It’s much faster, organized and more than email.

Save your files and access them from anywhere through OneDrive. You can use any device to access.

Dropbox is a modern workspace designed to reduce the amount of busywork so you can focus on multiple things.

Social platform where you can hear what people are talking about and follow your interests.

A place to access your photos, videos, documents, notes, contacts and more.

IN CLOSING Learning about the brand history and backstory of Borders is important before continuing this student rebranding project. Luckily, with the information provided and gathered within this book, Visual Strategy Guide, we can move onto book 2, Visual Development Guide, to see which direction the brand will go.