In mid-2016 we were contacted by the director of a Christian school for boys in North Carolina called Iron Academy about the next step for their brand: Creating a Christian school for girls. After much discussion, we saw synergies in their needs and our capabilities, but the work could not yet begin due to a number of factors.
Then during the final weeks of the same year, we were alerted that those factors had been addressed and that this new effort could begin immediately. The only catch was timing: We needed to start 2017 with a brand-building summit on-site, and then build the bones of the brand quickly so that registration could begin before February. Challenge: accepted.
The first weekend of January, Dan flew to North Carolina to meet with a group of women and Iron Academy’s director, Alan, to conduct an intensive brand building workshop under the banner, “Understanding Biblical Womanhood.”
The purpose was to develop the attributes of the new Christian school for young women, and then begin developing a voice for this new brand.
Despite one of the worst ice storms of the season, the group met all day at a local church in Raleigh, and an amazing amount of work was accomplished. Brand Shepherd’s purpose in being there was to facilitate the conversations so as to discover and develop the brand. Our presence was not to tell them what Biblical womanhood was – rather, it was to lead and facilitate the conversations with the women leaders.
Through multiple breakout sessions, and a few whole group sessions, we concluded the day with much accomplished, and more than enough to work with. We even left with a name for the new school: Academy 31, directly inspired, and a nod toward, Proverbs 31.
We created a tag line: Academy 31: Establishing Godly Women…For Life!™
The resources produced after this event were a Brand Pyramid, which drew out the specific attributes of the Academy 31 brand, alongside a pitch deck that outlined who the various people-types the brand would be talking to.
These resources are used to get all Academy 31 staff in the same mindset in terms of what they are part of, and everything produced was approved by and embraced by them.
Moving swiftly from the brand development architecture, we began an aggressive exercise of creating the new Academy 31 brand identity. Not only did the new Academy 31 brand identity need to encapsulate what we codified in the discovery phase, but it also was going to be part of a larger brand family. More on that later.
Even during the flight back to Cincinnati, sketches for the identity were underway. By using an iterative process that demanded extremely fast feedback for further iterations, we had a final brand identity created for this new brand in record time.
From the new brand identity, we created the branding style guide, avatars, and all visual assets Academy 31 would need to begin promoting the brand. However, we did not rest – the website needed to be put into place ASAP.
We had a decision to make: Start from scratch, or find a way to expedite a new Academy 31 website? Iron Academy has a very nice, custom built website that they own, and staff was familiar with, so it was decided that we could take that website, clone it, and rebrand it for Academy 31.
This process was perfect for both brands because it created a similarity between both schools, and since a lot of families would have sons and daughters in each school, the user experience for parents was great – if they knew their way around one website, they would know the other.
Since Academy 31 is a new school, though, the amount of content starting out was substantially less than what Iron Academy had in place, so much pruning was needed to get A31’s new website in shape for public use.
When the website launched, we had the summation of everything we had worked on up to then firing on all cylinders. Brand messaging was leveraged throughout the website, while the visual branding made everything engaging to read and view.
Academy 31 is positioned to carry its mission and purpose into the lives of young women. Our working relationship continues with them, as we work with their parent brand, IA31, and other touch points as well. This is a brand we are excited about and honored to say we were part of its beginning.