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Successful Rebranding of a Multi-Academy Trust – All You Need to Know

Why would you need to complete a school rebrand for a Multi-Academy Trust?

There are several reasons why a Multi-Academy Trust may need to complete a school rebrand. For example, it could be that the Trust has grown to a level at which a more professional and cohesive brand identity is required. Another example is that your Trust’s vision and values have evolved, and a rebranding is needed to communicate the new ethos. Perhaps, over the passage of time, your existing brand identity has become dated and needs reinvigorating to reflect the modern-day vision of the Trust.

In this article, we outline the major challenges a Multi-Academy Trust faces during rebranding. We also outline a three-stage process designed to achieve a successful transformation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rebranding a Multi-Academy Trust involves crafting a narrative that aligns with the Trust’s vision and values while maintaining each academy’s unique identity.
  • The process faces challenges like stakeholder alignment, preserving educational ethos, logistical complexities, and balancing heritage with innovation.
  • A successful rebranding is conducted in three stages: Concept Design, Scheme Design, and Detail and Final Artwork Design, plus Asset Handover.
  • Expert guidance is crucial for navigating the rebranding process, ensuring alignment with the Trust’s goals, and enhancing connections between academies.
  • Design for Education offers a full suite of tailored services for the education sector, demonstrating a proven record of successful Multi-Academy Trust rebranding projects.

What is rebranding, and why is it important?

It’s easy to become wrapped up in a misguided concept of brand as being the logo and colour scheme associated with an organisation. Sure, these things are important, but rebranding goes way beyond mere aesthetics. A rebrand is about crafting a narrative that communicates vision and values.

This is challenging enough when the organisation is a single entity. With a body such as a Multi-Academy Trust, rebranding must also consider the critical need to respect the heritage, unique qualities, and aspirations of the individual academies under the group umbrella.

Get your rebrand right, and it will become a pivotal moment in your trust’s journey. It can redefine public (and internal) perceptions. It can encourage and enhance stakeholder engagement. Equally crucially, it will align strategic objectives and group ethos with visual identity.

What challenges does a Multi-Academy Trust face when rebranding?

Rebranding a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) can be like navigating a ship through the clashing waves of innovation and tradition. Success depends upon maintaining a delicate balance and clear vision, while overcoming several hurdles on the journey.

One of the major hurdles is achieving stakeholder alignment. Your stakeholders are many and varied, and range from students, parents, and teachers to administrative staff and external partners. Each of these groups may have differing views on what the Trust stands for and the direction it should take. It’s crucial that they remain engaged and feel listened to, with solutions designed to incorporate diverse perspectives.

It can also be challenging to maintain the intended educational ethos during a rebranding. With so many diverse cultures, traditions, and educational philosophies in the mix, it can be like piecing together a complex jigsaw puzzle – you think you have the right piece in the right place, only to discover it doesn’t quite fit. Your rebranding process must consider all these nuances and, somehow, put them together so that the overarching brand strengthens the educational ethos of each academy.

Then comes the sheer logistical complexity of the rebrand. From updating physical signage to ensuring consistency across digital media and communications, transforming the concept into reality is an immense undertaking – especially as you’ll need to minimise disruption while all this is happening.

Finally, for many academies, heritage and history is a source of pride. It’s engrained into the identity of the community the academy serves. Rebranding needs to respect these elements – but how do you do this when you want to embrace innovation and align with future aspirations?

The three stages of successful rebranding

To overcome such unique challenges demands a balanced approach that encompasses strategic thinking, sensitivity to diverse stakeholder groups, and meticulous planning. To balance tradition with innovation and navigate all the logistical complexities involved, while also delivering a satisfying and forward-thinking rebrand, requires a nuanced and experienced process:

Stage One: Concept Design

This is the stage at which the foundations for the rebranding journey are laid. It begins with defining your Trust’s vision, values, and goals to ensure that the rebranding aligns with its overarching goals.

All stakeholders will need to be involved at this stage. You may need to conduct some market research, and must certainly have a good grasp on your Trust’s core principles. There will be brainstorming sessions, likely to generate a multitude of ideas, and these will lead to scamps and sketches of initial design concepts. It’s a creative exploration that results in the selection of the most promising concept, and thus setting the stage for further detailed development.

Stage Two: Scheme

We must now focus on refining and developing the concept into a cohesive design scheme. This not only involves detailed design work, but also testing and evaluation of the design using product mock-ups to ensure the design aligns with your Trust’s values, principles, and objectives.

Simultaneously, it’s crucial to establish draft brand guidelines to ensure consistency across all academies under the Trust’s umbrella.

All this work is crucial to translate the initial vision into a tangible, workable brand identity that resonates with all stakeholders.

Stage Three: Detail and Final Artwork Design, plus Asset Handover

This is where vision becomes reality:

  • The design is finalised
  • Brand guidelines are polished
  • All necessary assets and artwork are prepared for rollout

During this stage, snagging allows last-minute adjustments to be made to ensure the highest quality.

With everything in place, all the rebranding elements are signed off and the implementation process takes place across all the Trust’s academies.

The new chapter in your Multi-Academy Trust has now begun.

Professional Guidance – The Key to Successful Rebranding

In a rebranding journey littered with such immense challenges and complexities, you don’t only need a strategic approach – you need an experienced hand to guide you.

Rebranding experts bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. This is invaluable in identifying opportunities and avoiding pitfalls. They can help to manage stakeholder expectations, align rebranding with mission, vision, and values, and deliver efficient execution of the project.

Not only will their expertise in branding strategies, design principles, and project management ensure your objectives are met, but their impartiality will deliver an objective perspective that ensures internal biases don’t distract from your rebranding goals. The result? A rebranding that fosters a stronger connection between all the academies in your Trust, without trampling on the individuality of each academy.

How can Design for Education help in your Multi-Academy Trust’s rebranding?

As a specialist education sector design agency, we have a proven record of successful rebranding projects for Multi-Academy Trusts. Founded in 2008, we have cultivated a deep understanding of the challenges and complexities within the sector across the entire spectrum of educational establishments.

We’re a ‘full service’ agency, offering a comprehensive suite of design and marketing services. Our approach begins with consultation and advice, with project management and brand development at the core of the success we deliver.

We take a holistic approach, encompassing all your branding needs, including:

You’ll find our ability to translate your vision into a vibrant and effective brand identity second to none.

Flourish Learning Trust – Rebranding in action

Working recently with Flourish Learning Trust, and following our tried and tested rebranding process, we took the Multi-Academy Trust’s aim ‘to reflect the wider reach of our Trust, whilst ensuring that we are recognised within our community and beyond; that our identity represents our values and by using our brand correctly we can achieve this’, and delivered a successful rebranding that included:

  • A logo, through exploration of diverse logo variants
  • A colour palette for use on all assets
  • A consistent font and typography across all materials
  • Bright, colourful images reflecting the sense of enjoyment that complements hard work, care, and compassion
  • Trust stationary that aligns with all the above
  • Unique branded brochures and advertising
  • Reimagined social media, website, and branded signage
  • Graphics for exhibitions and information
  • Other branded materials, like water bottles, pens, polo shirts, and umbrellas

Other recent rebranding projects for Multi Academy Trusts include Kenilworth Multi Academy Trust and The Growth Learning Collective.

Take the first step on your rebranding journey

If you are considering a rebranding journey, you’ll need the right partnership to achieve your vision. With our deep-rooted specialisation in the education sector, extensive experience in rebranding of Multi-Academy Trusts, and a full-service approach that encompasses everything from consultation to the creation of engaging digital content, we are dedicated to understanding and addressing the unique challenges and opportunities for your Multi-Academy Trust, and then delivering to meet your rebranding goals.

Together, we can create a brand identity and suite of materials that not only meet your strategic goals, but also inspire pride and confidence in your educational mission. For a consultation or to learn more about how Design for Education can support your rebranding journey, reach out to us.

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