Opinion: Why did edtech enrol at the school of branding?
Once upon a time, schools didn’t do digital. When IT first entered the UK curriculum, students would cluster around a single, boxy, black and white monitor.
But times have changed. Powerful technology is in the hands of Snapchat-happy schoolchildren, and has been entering their classrooms at speed.
Unlike some industries, schools aren’t seeking tech innovation for the sake of it. Tech plays a vital role in primary and secondary education, one that is two-fold. First, it’s about ensuring all graduates are equipped for the digital age. Second, it’s about streamlining processes and facilitating what matters most – learning.
The problem is schools, which are typically slow to embrace change, are under pressure to make the right investments and to keep up with them. That teachers are strained is common knowledge. According to the Department of Education, UK teachers work 57.5 hours per week. Once the likes of lesson preparation, marking and other administrative duties are done, this means only 19.3 hours spent in the classroom.
While education technology (edtech) companies are helping, there are now more than 1,000 of them in the UK. As startups and products flood the market, valuable technologies are struggling to cut through the noise. It’s in this context that we were approached by TeacherCentric.
TeacherCentric is an education software company and the brains behind Show My Homework, a popular product that centralises and streamlines the homework process for teachers, students and their parents. The product was performing well; but being famous for a single product limited the ambitions of its holding company.
To grow its range, TeacherCentric needed a new brand into which Show My Homework, and other products, would neatly fit. Our brand strategy process helped us deliver the right result. First, we had to investigate TeacherCentric, as a business: where does it sit among its category peers? What about its long term objectives? While born from one successful idea, Show My Homework, the new brand needed to allow for continually changing circumstances.
We then took a closer look at TeacherCentric to develop our insight. What does the brand do? It makes education more accessible and manageable. How? Via easy-to-use technology. To create truly brilliant experiences that would generate long-term connections with its users, there had to be a deeper meaning. We needed to know why. Following a series of workshops, designed to define the brand’s strategic spine, it became clear that it was about ‘Shaping Lives and Building Reputations’ – a line we came up with to encapsulate the ambitions of the business for all parties, but also the role of technology as a vital enabler.
A deeper dive into the microenvironment helped uncover the overarching value proposition. Edtech is used by teachers, students and parents, all of whom will remain the core audience as TeacherCentric’s offering grows. It was crucial to understand what makes them tick individually, while discerning commonality.
One theme became clear: the absence of time. That teachers are time-poor is self-evident; but mum and dad also struggle to balance their day jobs with parenting, while children’s time could be better spent on learning and creative play than filling in homework sheets or chasing for marking. By making the homework process easier and being totally focused on its users, TeacherCentric makes time for people to develop, and reach potential.
With everything clicked into place – using our why, vision, values and value proposition – the brand needed a name that would embody structure, orderliness and reliability, while symbolising growth and potential. This is where the process entered the inspirational stage. Holding focus groups and naming exercises with the TeacherCentric team and teaching staff, allowed lateral thinking and ideas to flourish, which were honed against our prior research and audience insights.
We then implemented the brand. Evocative, nostalgic, yet understood by all ages, Satchel fitted the bill of brand names.
Our final stage, involved an interrogation of the brand, in which we gauged its success. We found that the new name and positioning is already being well received. We understand the power of branding; but new industries need educating on how to unlock its potential. As technology pours into classrooms, disrupting legacy systems and demanding a new order, brands can cut through the noise, provide clarity, showcase the shape of things to come and connect relevance with people through data, technology and creativity.
Roj Whitelock is the executive creative director at Jacob Bailey Group