Established in 2002, Teach First is a non-profit social enterprise in England and Wales working to transform primary and secondary education at schools facing the biggest challenges and serving the most disadvantaged communities through the development of great teachers and leaders. Based on a two-year program, Teach First trains first-time teachers through a five-week intensive program before school starts and continues their development in the school where they evolve from an “unqualified teacher” to gaining Qualified Teacher Status then becoming a Newly Qualified Teacher and, in the end, gaining a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. The charity has now recruited over 14,000 teachers and leaders, 60 of which have become head teachers, supporting over a million students in the last 17 years. This month, Teach First introduced a new identity designed by London, UK-based Johnson Banks.
[The] task was to find a bold and differentiating new brand approach which used the new narrative as a springboard, tackled preconceptions and would be digitally led. It needed to reflect their evolution from a charity known just for teacher training, to one offering a range of school leadership programmes, supporting schools and helping teachers to thrive. And finally it had to be adaptable across a bewildering array of target audiences: graduates; teachers; professionals considering ‘switching’ to teaching; headmasters; government departments; philanthropists; corporate sponsors, and so on.
After extensive design stages and multiple rounds of audience testing, a clear winner emerged that is simple and bold, yet enables Teach First to move in a new direction. The idea begins with a simple T/F monogram that echoes ‘building a fair education for all’ and allows them to clearly identify themselves, from the smallest space on a social post to the largest billboard site.
The old logo, clearly, was not very interesting and that same lackluster-ness seeped into the rest of their materials and communications, yielding a fairly bland and unattractive identity. The new logo features a bold monogram that blends a “T” and an “F” into a strong identifier for the organization. An easy visual puzzle where triangles help define the letters, the monogram has a nice geometric basis to it that ties it to primary education. The wordmark, in a bold, spiky serif looks good and serves as a matching complement to the shapes of the monogram. The stacked version gets a little disproportionate with the huge monogram but it does work in cementing it as the clear mark for the organization.
[We] oversaw photoshoots across the UK featuring school children who were encouraged to be themselves – real, sometimes cheeky, always human – rather than fall back on the clichéd classroom shots that have become the industry standard. We also shot a whole tranche of teachers in a similar style.
The design approach continues with a new typographic language, punchy colour palette, bold graphic style and a revised art direction approach. We also introduced a snappier and bolder new tone of voice. Together with a newly developed messaging framework, this encourages Teach First to say less, not more, using straightforward communication in an increasingly jargon-heavy sector.
The identity revolves around some uplifting photography of kids mixed with equally uplifting copywriting that communicates the organization’s goal of changing the outlook of kids’ futures from a state of apathy to a state of optimism. Visually there are a number of things going on, some better than others. I like the crossed out, lame words replaced with positive words and the cut-corner holding shape for words (the ones that say “pauses” or “rise” below) but I’m not as much of a fan of the silhouetted photos with shapes or the combination of the serif with the light sans serif. As a whole, though, it’s a versatile and varied system to adapt to multiple uses.
Key to this relaunch, their ongoing teacher recruitment and the growth of their schools network is a multi-faceted, multi-channel advertising campaign. We have developed this based upon the idea of the choices that their many target audiences face – and that by joining or supporting Teach First, you can ‘alter the outcome’. Here are some examples.
In the campaign, the silhouetted photos start to look a little cheesy — it might just be the unnatural bright yellow and blue backgrounds because when they are on black it does look great. The A/B concept is good and decently executed but I wonder if the ads are relatively “complex” to be read on the fly — I don’t know if this is just me assuming that people don’t have the attention span anymore to take 5 seconds to decode an ad because phones. Again, I like the overall tone of how the A and B options point out the attitude of just letting things be vs. the way things could be.
Overall, this has an interesting aesthetic that feels academic and school-related while managing to also feel career-oriented for young professionals. Like, yes, it’s school-ish/college-y but something you could see at a career fair and where it’s clear that one could help make a difference.