design thinking

SACE Board SA

Detailed strategic plan, communication strategy, business development strategy, communication team restructure design, brand identity, naming strategy, and website design for the SACE Board of South Australia and their local and global programs.

Our successful approach for this project was strengthened by a well honed and detailed process and comprised of a team of external consultants and education experts at a local, national and global level that we used to guide and inform the project at every step. Our process was highly consultative and collaborative and identified, engaged and harnessed the opinions and perspectives of a wide ranging stakeholder base.

In starting a project as complex we first looked to detailed scoping and definition to understand the macro social, political and cultural context and to bring clarity to the primary concerns being addressed by brand. We were privileged to work with and interview some of the brightest minds in secondary education for this project and what emerged through a series of detailed interviews and many informal conversations was that the SACE program was one of the best in the world. Many rebranding projects are premised on a shift in the business value offering or the market needs and requirements. Through a history of necessary shifts and changes within the organisation and changes to the program since its inception, it became clear that the value within the SACE programs had not been captured and conveyed to its audience and had not had a brand identity to adequately represent it. With the SACE Board rebrand we determined our primary task to be the communication of the deep value residing within the organisation and within the programs.

Our work: before brand for the SACE Board was comprehensive and of considerable breadth and consisted of: a Foundation Working session, gathering the thoughts and perspectives of high-value individuals drawn from government education, leaders of the three secondary school groups and representatives from the Northern Territory; a Brand Profiling working session with key leadership and management providing a 360º map of the organisation and audience; a Future Casting session with a high-level education specialist in global education development; interviews with representatives from the top tiers of South Australian Government agencies in the areas of education, development and inbound and outbound education tourism; interviews with parents of SACE students and parents of competitor education programs; interviews with pre, current and post SACE students and students of competitor programs; interviews with senior secondary school leaders and SACE program coordinators; interviews with SACE Board representatives and leadership and a working session comprising 120 staff to develop, as a group, a statement of purpose for the organisation.

This considerable body of information gathered was recorded, transcribed, distilled, synthesised and categorised into a series of compelling narratives, tested among high-level stakeholders group, resolved into a set of communication priorities and then used to inform the development of all outputs. Secondary to this, but of critical importance, was a small research project probing the conception and origin of value within education, which we used to model the relationships between students, parents, the institutions and broader society. Early discussions revealed that the education industry has inherited a structure formed in the industrial age and although it is embracing a 21st century framework, many parts of society cling to an outdated value system. Our model generated deep insight and clarity into the overarching narratives informing parents’ choices in education. The research process can be summarised as: observation, assumption, insight, clarification and testing. We were consistently informed by the separate expert reference group that we estblished, which further tested assumptions and challenged thinking throughout the project.

In developing the brand identity for the SACE Board we were dealing with not only historical precedents concerning the conception and representation of education, but also pervasive and outdated stereotypes that had successfully obscured the value in the SACE programs. Our research was used to challenge these stereotypes, which enabled us to then shift the conversation to new ground. Through the brand process we also embarked on several smaller studies focused on the perceptions and representations of authority – our goal in this being to establish a brand that positioned SACE as a 21st century education authority. The program naming was also reviewed, challenged and tested with stakeholder groups, and although no basis could be found for an immediate and wholesale change it was noted for future consideration.

Mirroring a modernisation within the organisation, and more broadly, in education, the new SACE brand identity, referred to as the plus-mark, has successfully worked to: reframe the organisation, affirm its position as a 21st century education authority, clearly communicate the value in the programs, and project both a space in and a role into the future.

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