Creating Ambition Institute

March 11, 2019
Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook

Director of Marketing and Communications, Ambition Institute

Rachel Cook, our Director of Marketing and Communications, tells us how she and the team created Ambition Institute’s brand in-house.

By the time this blog is on our website we will have pulled back the curtains and revealed our new identity. It can finally be said out loud – we are Ambition Institute!

For the past four months our new name, Ambition Institute, and its evolving, iterative narrative and visual identity has been known only to a handful of people, but now it belongs to the world. But seeing the logo and new colours belies the complex and tireless work led by my team for more than nine months. 

Meet Ambition Institute

I like to think that brands are like people. How someone’s personality clicks with yours, how their ethos connects to your world view, how they talk to and keep you engaged in conversation – these things determine how positively (or otherwise) you feel about them.  

The same is true of brands. How often have our perceptions been changed about a company because of clever advertising or amusing social media posts, or by customer service that knocks our socks off? 

So, when we started this process I knew it was vital that we created a brand with a personality that connected with our audience. An additional challenge though, is that at Ambition Institute we’re not talking to one homogenous group. We’re talking to educators at all levels, from teachers in the classroom to CEOs and trustees of multiple schools; to policymakers and government officials; to strategic partners who are doing great work across the sector; and to a potential workforce from which we want to attract the brightest individuals, who will help us achieve our mission to ensure every child gets the education they deserve.   

We’ve had to think hard about this but, more importantly, we’ve had to listen. We kicked off the rebrand process by listening to more than 900 people including our participants and alumni, educators from schools who hadn’t worked with us before, our staff and key partners.  

We asked them what they thought of our legacy organisations and what they wanted from a partner dedicated to helping them to get better, so they can do the same for the children they serve. 

Rerand 1

What’s in a name?

These insights led us to test several options for our new name and settle on Ambition Institute. The educators we spoke to told us that they love the social purpose at the heart of ‘ambition’ – that they’re united by a passion to develop themselves and instil the highest aspirations in every child they teach. 

They also told us how much they value expertise. Committed educators want to perennially deepen their knowledge and practice, and are looking for evidence-based development at the cutting edge of thinking. So through Ambition Institute, a graduate school for educators, we want to shout loudly about the advanced expertise at the core of teaching and school leadership and do everything we can to help raise the status of the profession. 

Bold, positive, human

Our research also helped us to understand what sort of personality our brand would need to have to reflect the community we serve, and we settled on three characteristics: bold, positive and human.  

As educators do every day, you’ll see us make bold choices about how we work. We’ll act with courage, confidence and clarity and invite our network and partners to hold us to account for that. 

We’ll shine a spotlight on the positive solutions that educators are finding every day to the challenges in their schools. As my colleague Matt Hood often says, England’s educators are leading the best educational conversation in the world, so we have every reason to be optimistic. 

Finally, we’ll continue to listen and to focus on the real people at the heart of the work we do. We’ll do our best to cut the jargon and talk on a human level. And we’ll be honest about where we can do better, because everyone benefits when we share and debate ideas. 


Keep getting better

It may surprise many that we decided to create the brand for Ambition Institute in-house with our existing team – bringing in some occasional support to fill gaps in our knowledge or to mentor our staff. I made this decision because I knew we had the brand expertise, sector insight and creative talent within our team to do so. 

This also enabled us to use the charity’s resources sensibly and sensitively. In the current financial climate, where schools are making tough decisions daily about how to spend stretched resources, we made the positive choice to develop our own team instead of working with a branding agency, which many would have seen as an obvious and understandable move. 

Through this process we’ve therefore had the opportunity to live and breathe our organisational values of owning our role, working for the team, and most importantly to keep getting better. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve developed and thrilled by the reactions we’ve had from our colleagues and close partners so far, who feel a real sense of connection and ownership of it.

We hope our community of educators feels the same, because we created it for them, and with them in mind.

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