National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

Persona Research for Game-Changing Audience Understanding


Reconnecting with Members

One of the largest student-governed organizations in the world, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), has empowered students and leaders in engineering and STEM fields with access to academics, peer support, and innovation since 1975.

As they approach their 50-year anniversary, NSBE has put in place a strategic plan for its ongoing evolution. A significant part of that strategy involves transforming their online presence to better serve their members and extended communities.

NSBE’s executive team recognized that to reach their strategic goals and get meaningful value from the changes they would make, they needed to start with a deeper understanding of the people at the heart of their service.

They turned to Refactored for a research project that would bring their membership a clear voice in the evolution of the society and guide future marketing and website changes.


Audience Personas

Insights & Takeaways

Board-Focused Collateral

Service Offerings

Brand Strategy & Analysis


Stakeholder Interviews


Phased Research Methodology

Refactored designed an interview-centered research project to reach all of NSBE’s major stakeholder audiences and document key aspects of their relationship with the organization.

We structured the project around a phased process that would enable us to connect with a wide sample of stakeholders across multiple segments of the organization.

Phase 1: Business alignment and desktop research

Our team worked closely with NSBE’s executive team to identify six member and influencer personas, then developed detailed questions for each persona segment.

Phase 2: Interviews and surveys

NSBE provided contact lists and sent email outreach, and our team leveraged an online scheduling tool to automate interview setup. Over the course of 6 weeks, we conducted nearly 60 recorded interviews, and documented and analyzed interview and survey responses.

Phase 3: Persona development

With an enormous amount of information in hand, our team set to work sifting and consolidating responses, taking care to include a full range of feedback and preserving interviewee voices in both summary statements and direct quotes.

Phase 4: Presentation and delivery of persona documents

For projects such as this one—designed to integrate with and inform further efforts—delivery never means “handoff.” We took the time to present our findings to NSBE’s team, provide context, and include recommendations for making the most of this valuable information.

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. NSBE, founded in 1975, supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology.

With more than 600 chapters and more than 24,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.


A Foundation for Transformation

Through the understanding NSBE gained from this research project, they can construct a map of the distinct journey prospective members and partners take to align with their organization.

And because they have a deeper understanding of their members, they can create conversations, both offline and online, from a position of empathy and strength, speaking to them with relevant content and in ways that inspire them to:

  • Join NSBEs movement and renew membership

  • See where they can benefit from the connections the organization provides

  • Expand their opportunities by actively participating in NSBE programs

  • Find a place to give back—personally and professionally

Where Do We Start?

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