Our Story

 We are a diverse team of experienced higher education marketing experts. We’ve held senior leadership positions at numerous universities, national advertising agencies and innovative market research firms.  We've led branding initiatives at major universities and small liberal arts colleges. We understand the unique complexities and challenges facing higher ed today and, frankly, we want to help. We’ve dedicated ourselves to this sector, and our mission is to help ensure financial sustainability for each of our clients by unlocking the power of their distinct brand.  


Our Approach

Our offering begins with a brand assessment and continues through execution—and everything in between. We also work with our clients on specific projects such as alumni magazine redesign, annual fund marketing and more. Because no two institutions are ever alike, together we'll create your unique scope of work. 

And because differentiation is important for all  brands (including ours), with Capstone Brand Partners, you'll partner with senior business strategists, brand builders, audience insight seekers and creative thinkers, all of whom have sat in your seat and understand your challenges.

 Lastly, because we believe strong, trustworthy relationships are foundational to mutual success, here's what you can expect when you work with us...   

  • Zero ego and 100% commitment to your success
  • A deep respect for our clients' skills and talents
  • Shared core values including trust, persistence and the belief in the Golden Rule


Meet the Founder

Sarah M. Elliott, Founder & CEO

Sarah Marshall Elliott is an accomplished brand strategist, marketing and publishing executive.  Her career began at USA Today where she spent 10 years working in marketing, new media and product development. She also served as the founding vice president of advertising/marketing for USA Today SkyRadio. Over the next 10 years, she was an award-winning magazine publisher, vice president of advertising/marketing and group publisher at Tuff Stuff Publications, Sabot Publishing and Active Interest Media (AIM). 

In 2011, Sarah became the director of marketing and brand strategy for Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance and led a highly successful corporate rebrand.  She joined Virginia Tech in 2015 as the Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services where she led the initial stages of the institutional brand relaunch, and managed the centralized creative services, publishing unit and $10 million licensing program. Upon her return to Richmond, Sarah joined EAB in 2017 as director of program marketing where she was responsible for developing higher education fundraising marketing strategy and programs for over 40 colleges and universities, led channel/platform innovation and managed the in-house creative team. 

Sarah owns Game Day Publications LLC and has authored and published two books, Learning Football with The Hokie Bird® and Learning Football with Duke Dog®". She recently rediscovered a love for abstract impressionistic oil painting and enjoys creating commissioned artwork for her clients, friends and family. 


Meet our ADVISORs and COnsultants

Cecelia Crow - Consultant

Cecelia has extensive experience as an award-winning marketing and branding leader in higher education and marketing consulting. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards and national speaking engagements. For 15 years, she was an ad agency executive in D.C., Virginia and West Virginia, consulting in a variety of industries. 


For 10 years, Cecelia was the Brand Manager for Virginia Tech, where she successfully executed and managed the university’s first formal brand program and launched a nationally recognized brand ambassador program. She also led market research, strategic marketing and enrollment marketing campaigns. 

Cecelia joined Hollins University in 2016 as Executive Director of Marketing and Communications and led a full team of public relations, web, social and creative staff. She also was Editor-in-Chief of Hollins alumnae magazine. She joined Anstey Hodge Advertising Group in 2018 to manage client-marketing activity for a large, international business-to-business company.   ,

Donna Wertalik - Consultant

Donna is currently the Director of Marketing for the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech and serves as an Associate Professor of Practice in the Marketing Department. She is an innovative, achievement-oriented senior manager with diverse corporate and academic experience.  Her skills include the identification of marketing opportunities, brand management, social media engagement and measurement, as well as overall product development. 

Her background and experience emphasize her commitment to bottom-line profitability and market-share growth through strategic brand positioning. Her role at Virginia Tech encompasses branding, marketing and metrics for the business school, as well as leading the strategic efforts of Pamplin’s virtual identity through Virginia Tech’s social media organization, Prism.

Earl Cox - Advisor

Earl enjoyed a 34-year career in advertising and marketing, 31 years at The Martin Agency and the last 20 years of that as Chief Strategy Officer. In this thought leadership role, he developed brand positioning and marketing communication strategies for hundreds of companies in dozens of business categories. Clients included GEICO, Mercedes-Benz, UPS, Saab, Discover Card, Hanes, and Mount Gay Rum, among others.  Earl is currently a brand consultant for the Brand Federation, and frequent lecturer at VCU's Brand Center, mentor to Richmond's business incubator Start-up Virginia, and member of several local boards. He received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the University of Virginia.

Our Partners