United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®)
Deepening relationships through a new brand

Fwd People helped USMLE update and invigorate their long-established brand to help strengthen relationships with examinees, partners in the medical education community, and beyond.


How can USMLE be better positioned to balance the authority it needs as a high-quality medical licensure examination and the connections and relevancy within the medical community? The USMLE examination is a critical milestone in medical education, and the brand needed to reflect that on both a functional and aspirational level.


Fwd People knew that this brand refresh was an opportunity to refocus and clarify USMLE’s purpose. Through a series of interviews and brand perception research, we found opportunities to modernize the brand, improve the user experience of interacting with USMLE, and give the brand the same lofty purpose as the examination and medical license it supports.


Using brand perception research and a series of interviews and workshops with both internal and external stakeholders, we set out to define what the USMLE brand was and where it needed to go to best support the medical community. Fwd People then defined USMLE’s ideal brand positioning and set out to create visual and written brand identities to reflect that.


To balance the need for multi-stakeholder buy-in we facilitated a creative calibration workshop in which staff and partners shared their perspectives and reactions to visual and written ideas before diving into the work of branding.

Those agreed-upon parameters guided our efforts to balance the respect and trust a medical licensure examination requires with the need for a more human brand. The modernized brand uses softer brand elements, a more colorful palette, greater use of photography, and a brand structure to guide medical students through the three steps of the USMLE.