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SALT, the original form of currency, was the perfect name for our inspirational, money behavior-changing program.

Sue Burton, Managing Director Consumer Product and Marketing

SALT Case Study


Student loan debt has reached epic proportions. Soon to exceed one trillion dollars, it has surpassed credit card debt in America. SALT, a membership program created by ASA (American Student Assistance) is on a mission to tackle this massive national problem.

Since 1956, ASA has served as a guarantor, helping people manage and pay off their federal student loans. Because of President Obama’s overhaul of the student loan system, ASA was forced to reinvent its business model and redefine its role in the world.

They asked Wolff Olins to help them create a brand strategy and identity that would motivate young people to change their behavior and take control of their finances.


To aid our research we conducted site visits and extensive group interviews with college students and ASA staff to understand the role the program should play in the world. To evolve their business model and reach the most people, ASA would have to shift its role from helping borrowers manage their loans to inspiring all students and alumni to understand their full financial picture.

To change behavior, we had to get inside the heads of students and alumni.

Our research has told us that most young people are irrationally optimistic about the future. They are largely disengaged from their finances and don’t want to think about ‘finances’ or ‘debt.

We knew we had to create a brand experience that simplified the complex, spoke in their language, and provided incentives to change their behavior. We built a brand that empowers young people to own their finances by making it immediately rewarding, easy, and fun to be smarter with money. Using the brand strategy as a foundation, we created a bold, new name and brand identity – SALT. As well as a custom typeface for the brand. In a category full of bland imagery, text overload, and jargon, our identity cuts through and stands out.

In addition to naming and brand identity, we’ve also worked closely with digital partner HUGE to bring the launch product to life. We’ve continued working with SALT as a strategic partner, implementing a number of projects from employee engagement workshops, to a campus campaign, to sales outreach.


The strategy has helped employees make the transition from a federal loan guarantor to a more approachable, consumer-facing brand. Sue Nathan, VP of Consumer Services at ASA, told us "You taught us the importance of having the consumer perspective at the core of everything we do."

SALT has piloted its membership program in 46 schools across the country. So far, over 35,000 students and alumni have registered to take control over their finances.


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Wolff Olins helped us get beyond our complex communication style and establish a voice to speak to consumers in a simple, useful and motivating way.

Sue Nathan, VP of Consumer Services at ASA