Designing a destination for reliable news

San José Spotlight is the city’s first nonprofit digital news organization. They are independent, community-funded, and dedicated to covering the area’s biggest issues without bias. In 2018, their founders came to us with just a name and a mission, seeking an agency partner to help build their brand and ultimately, a news site that our community can trust.

With little funding to start, they simply couldn’t afford our services. But, we believed in their vision and wanted to contribute to our area’s first resource for nonprofit news.

  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Brand Guidelines
  • Pitch Deck
  • Marketing Collateral
  • Social Media Campaign
  • Strategy & Engagement Plan
  • Website Design & Development
san jose spotlight stationery set logo and branding design

SJ Spotlight’s biggest obstacle is the rising distrust of mass media. Their brand must exude innovation and ethics to become our community’s go-to source for reliable news.

Under our Design in Kind program, we created Spotlight’s logo and all of the brand and outreach materials they needed to secure funding–completely pro-bono. We also offered a substantial discount on the design and development of their website.

san jose spotlight logo design poster tube mockup

It’s in the details.

We created Spotlight’s brand to appear both editorial and timeless, balancing traditional and modern design elements to stand strong in a market of established mastheads. The logo mark (a magnifying glass) and the tagline both speak to the “search for truth” that fuels their mission. Every detail of their brand–typography, color, layout, iconography, etc.– helps project an image of trust that sets them apart from other local news sources. Photography is particularly crucial in establishing authenticity and helps San Jose Spotlight look relevant and honest.

san jose spotlight marketing materials

You have captured our vision perfectly and we’re so grateful to your talented team for building our beautiful brand. Design in Mind was incredibly responsive, professional, creative, and diligent in supporting us each step of the way—even after our launch.”

San José Spotlight
Ramona Giwargis
Co-Founder & Editor

We took a phased approach.

Our relationship with the Spotlight team was highly collaborative, which enabled us to balance their immediate priorities against long-term brand goals. After the primary brand development work was done, we pivoted to create a temporary landing page to support their ongoing fundraising efforts. This page helped generate buzz around the nascent company by building brand awareness, promoting events, and enticing new donors. Meanwhile, their team had time to write content while ours designed an infrastructure for the news.

When San Jose Spotlight finally launched, we had gone through several review cycles to ensure the site would support a wide range of content, their growing staff of writers, and thousands of visitors a day. Throughout production, our team also supported their ongoing promotional efforts and chimed in as brand consultants, and cumulatively built an incredible foundation as their agency partner for years to come.

san jose spotlight web design mockup on laptop

How do you measure success?

Since its launch in 2019, San Jose Spotlight has celebrated incredible growth.
In just the first two years, they achieved the following:


new readers


page viwes


comments from the community


readers per day




donated via the website

Without a doubt, our success as a new nonprofit in Silicon Valley would not be possible without Design in Mind! Choosing them to create our brand was one of the best decisions we made and we’ll continue to turn to them as our organization expands and grows.

San José Spotlight
Ramona Giwargis
Co-Founder & Editor
design in kind responsive web design phone and desktop