Pro bono. Creating real difference 15 April 2016

For a number of years now we've worked with Inspire! – a charity that links businesses with schools to open doors for young people. So we know first hand how just a few hours given up each month can help. That said, we had never embarked upon a full on pro bono project until I had a chance conversation with a client, who was a governor of a local primary school.

Christ Church Primary School, a jewel in the heart of the Spitalfields community, was in desperate need of a brand that truly reflected the great work and change that was going on there. We also needed to help attract broader pupil demographic from the local community to the school, whilst positioning it as a dynamic, progressive and family orientated school that values the individuality of its pupils.

No mean feat, but I knew we could make a difference and would tackle the project in the same way we would any brand challenge.

With the initial help of law firm Allen & Overy, who helped the school undertake a review of their local competitors, myself and Andy Richards (Living's Creative Director) embarked on our research phase, interviewing teaching staff and parents to find out why they felt the school was so great. We also spent time at the school and with the pupils, getting a feel for the environment and culture. It really is a special place. 

As with any project we then created the all important brief which was shared with our brand team. Each designer was then tasked with coming up with an idea, in their own or down time, within a set time frame. Whilst the creative was underway we also created a new positioning and 'Living Kindness' brand behaviours that could be embraced by everyone in the school.

And the creative output? Well let's just say the team used this project to let loose creatively and came up with numerous fantastic ideas inspired by getting out into the community, absorbing all the textures, forms in one of London’s most creative and colourful boroughs. Let's remember that this work was undertaken, not because the team had to, but because they wanted to.

After presentations to the project team and subsequently to the teaching staff, governors, parents and pupils, one idea was unanimously chosen, created by one of our designers Tim Phelan.

The school's new brand is vibrant, playful and uses a highly versatile geometric design system which flexes and morphs to form the word marque, illustrations and narrative graphics throughout this energetic visual identity. Andy and his team then rolled out the new brand across their website that's coming very soon and 40 metre wall in the playground – hand painted by Living and school volunteers on a Saturday morning.

So, what are the benefits of a project like this? Well, first and foremost, it's given the school new energy and it's become a fun and exciting place to learn. More pupils from the local area are now attending and teaching staff have been inspired to raise standards, with school graded as 'outstanding' by SIAMS and as 'good' by Ofsted. 

For us, its been massively rewarding. It's created new dynamics across the agency, with different teams working together to achieve an outcome that is really inspiring. We've had fun and we've all got involved in one way or another – collectively feeling tremendous pride in what we've done, and are continuing to do. We've also picked up a couple of branding awards and have just been shortlisted for a Corporate Engagement Award, shortlisted alongside professional services giant Deloitte (no pressure)! 

Christ Church Primary School has come a long way with us on a very special journey and it's safe to say, that it now stands proud as a progressive centre of education in the community. Our brand is playing its small part and we hope, creating difference.

Duncan Shaw
Executive Creative Director

Find out more about our work for Christ Church Primary School.

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