Case Study: Brand Identity – Education

A Brand’s Organic Growth

An established brand had a strong position in a targeted area in the primary education world, having developed solutions first, then the company, and expanded based on need. As their business grew with more offerings and clients, their competitors began to take notice. They shooed away offers of mergers, buyouts, collaborations, remaining wholly dedicated to their original mission of offering solutions first, following the science and art to achieve better outcomes. And they did. They did this so well their customers began to use their solutions in other areas, for more general reach, and found the outcomes improved there, as well, faster.

The company did not shoo off their customers. They listened, researched, and listened some more. Organically they met the needs asked of them while simultaneously began the steps needed to move to the full options their customers were increasingly demanding. They maintained a deliberate, thoughtful approach, knowing the change would involve so much more expansion, and they wanted to do it right.

The Assignment:

As part of their engagement with us, which included strategic, business, development, planning, and more, they also recognized that they needed a brand refresh to align with their venture into a more expanded, modern approach to solutions and offerings. They needed a new brand identity that honored their history while moving forward.

The Challenge:

While the story of the brand was surprisingly detailed and personal, reflective of the origins of the company, the brand was surprisingly personal and reflective of the origins of the company. As a marketer I was so happy to learn the story behind the name and the mark, understanding the personal connection to the past would be the key to bridging to the next phase.

The unique challenge here was the company was so tied to the mission that it often was assumed they were one, that the identity was the voice and the audience. There was an initial focus on branding outward, from their view to the audience. This whole purpose for growth was based on audience needs, requests for solutions that the mission had not anticipated. We needed to flip the focus from internal to external, and this change offered the perfect opportunity to change the thinking.

The Approach:

workshops and research

The client and their whole team was deeply engaged, and aware of the changes they would be facing. In short, they knew their identity would change, but I needed to understand how they saw themselves, but also how they understood both their customer did and what their impact in the market would be, could be.

It was critical to get up to speed quickly both on their industry and their competitive landscape, as well as the science and drivers behind their approach and new direction.

The Work:

Competitive research and workshops. This client was very collaborative, which is exceptionally important when dealing with brand identity that is evolving. We ran workshops to review and assess the competitive landscape to understand the nuances of the competitors, develop SWOT comparisons for all, while also gaining insights into what did and did not resonate with the client and how they perceived both the audience and their brand. By working with differentiation and substantiation exercises we gained a peek into their own ideal identity of who they wanted to be, as they grew up, and how they could present themselves to the expanded audience. Moving on to workshops around opportunities, values and positioning I was able to move the client further into defined brand attributes and archetype, aligning, or rather re-aligning their identity with the customer and audience needs.

Companies will always think outward, projecting their passion and positions to the audience, and marketing, content strategy, and especially brand work, requires the redirection to align and merge the audience needs with their solutions and offerings first and foremost. The age old WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) approach.

The Outcome:

While of course the visual element of the brand identity is always the most exciting and impactful, when a client gets to be a part of the direction and then gets to see the reveal is often emotional and cathartic. But part of the brand identity delivered also included a robust brand strategy, including editorial and design guidelines. Working closely with the development team as they progressed on their work to upgrade and develop new solutions, including UX experience and design with visual and copy, the guidelines also included modulation of attributes and archetypes for audience approaches.

Brand voice and strategy

Their reaction to the updated messaging approaches and examples, in context of the different audiences and personas, reinforced that their identity hadn’t changed, it had matured. I was able to make their new brand identity match their offering evolution in growth, to make it part of the journey they and their clients travel together.

voice, tone, messaging

I also delivered a tool for them built in AirTable, which alluded to their own future offerings, that guided them in all their messaging approaches for different audiences, with the ability to expand, that enabled them to truly focus on the creative and supportive approach to their work.

Rarely do we get the client that is receptive, deliberate, and collaborative, with a product or solution that just makes your soul smile. But sometimes, sometimes, we do.