Setting learning free for kids everywhere

Founded in 2015, Outschool is a marketplace that lets teachers and kids connect over small-group live interactive classes and after-school clubs on thousands of topics, from core academics to way out-there electives. In 2020 the platform saw massive growth as the pandemic forced kids out of the classroom and parents scrambled for ways to keep them engaged. Over the better part of a year, we col­lab­o­rat­ed with Outschool’s research, marketing, content, and product teams to redefine the brand narrative and overhaul the identity, creating a digital-first brand system designed to empower brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion, elevate the product experience, and address a rapidly diver­si­fy­ing inter­na­tion­al audience in-product and out in the world.

Through deep immersion with internal stake­hold­ers, kids, teachers, and parents, a narrative began to emerge that would help us clarify Outschool’s position in the crowded edtech space: While their competitors are almost exclusively focused on metrics of con­ven­tion­al academic success (SAT scores, improved grades, college preparation), Outschool has been a champion of interest-based learning since day one, believing that cultivating a genuine love of learning is more valuable than any stan­dard­ized test score. It was this mindset that initially made them a hit with the inde­pen­dent­ly-minded teachers and uncon­ven­tion­al families who still form the core of their community today. And it shows in the product: with over 140,000 classes and clubs on offer, every kid can learn about any topic that interests them — no matter how niche — and connect with students and teachers all around the world who share their passions. With this under­stand­ing in mind, we set about to develop a brand that leveraged their unique point of view and doubled down on what has always made them different.

We started by defining a brand strategy encap­su­lat­ed by the sentiment, Set learning free,” rep­re­sent­ing the shared values of the company and its audience. We then set out on a dual course, creating a messaging framework and reimagining the visual and verbal identity to more strongly align with the needs and desires of teachers, kids, and parents. We crafted a simple, distinct logotype char­ac­ter­ized by its OO ligature. Dubbed The Squidge” by the internal team, it exudes a spirit of flexibility, curiosity, and fun, and hints at the endless learning oppor­tu­ni­ties Outschool offers. We developed systems for typography, color, and motion that strike a balance between playful irreverence and educational authority. We worked with Jonpaul Douglass to create a series of portraits that celebrate the indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and diversity of the kids that love Outschool, and used them as the basis for a mixed-media collage system. We also col­lab­o­rat­ed with the brand team at Outschool to rethink their illus­tra­tion approach. And we developed a digital tool that lets stake­hold­ers con­sis­tent­ly generate the amorphous shapes that sit at the heart of the identity. But our efforts didn’t stop with traditional brand identity and art direction. We dove headfirst into the product itself, designing prototypes and a UI toolkit to help Outschool’s product team bring the new brand fully into the experience.

The result is an upgraded, digital-first brand that more strongly telegraphs Outschool’s core values, clarifies their story, and helps them stay weird as they deepen their inter­na­tion­al reach, appealing to the kids, teachers, and parents who believe what they do: that real growth happens when kids love to learn.

  • Services
  • Brand Strategy
  • Visual Identity
  • Verbal Identity
  • Art Direction
  • Motion Design
  • UX/UI Design
  • Prototyping
  • Digital Tooling
  • Guidelines
  • People
  • Eric Mortensen
  • Tim Kamerer
  • Noelle Shachter
  • Alex Bernard
  • Jordan Egstad
  • Regan Johnson
  • Ryan Terry
  • Jonpaul Douglass