Rebranding – JC Academy

JC Academy are a coaching and sports company based in the Midlands. They operate nationally offering sports clubs, holiday clubs and PE services to schools and academies. They approached us in February with a brief for a rebrand, they wanted to overhaul their existing identity that had been with them since day one. Revamping an established identity is something that should never be taken lightly. JC Academy have been operating in their industry for nearly six years so it was vital to consider this as we approached the project.

During a briefing meeting with managing director and lead coach Jack Craven, we mapped out his vision for the business and worked out how the rebrand aligned with his plans. It was clear that Jack knew where is going and understood that the JC identity wasn’t right for the direction and space he was starting to push into. “Jack is a savvy guy and has a forward plan for JC that is exciting. It is great that he looks at his brand and appreciates what it represents and the value it brings. To be asked to work on this project is flattering as Jack really values his brand, identity and reputation; to be trusted to work on it is a big responsibility” said Design Pit Creative Director Gareth Robertson.

Jack wanted to move JC Academy into a more corporate space and target schools where he can offer external coaching support for a variety of sports, PPE cover and after school clubs. In the infant sector, JC also offer training for teachers on how to deliver PE lessons. Jack recognised education as a sector which offers exceptional opportunities for growth and this formed the basis for our brief. The next step was to conduct some research into the industry, take a look at some competitors within the space that JC was being taken to see what they were doing in terms of identity. We quickly found ten competitors online and took some time to look at their websites, focusing closely on the logo, the styling of the site and the tone that was set across the website.

“I was in a fortunate position that my whole family works in or has worked in education so I was able to call on them to help with some relevant opinion in the research stages” said Gareth. “I had some thoughts of my own but I asked my wife and father for their opinions on which logos appealed to them, what elements they thought worked well and conversely which ones didn’t work so well. My wife Sarah is a PE teacher at a private school and often looks at coaching companies who can support her department and my Dad was a headteacher in an infant school where external coaching companies were often vital. Both of them could offer a genuine and relevant opinion so I called on them here. Their feedback was very interesting indeed and helped form a thought process for us when we started to develop ideas for a new logo”.

The most interesting observation that came from our market research was that the existing JC logo was not liked at all. The feedback on it was quite negative so Jack was pleased that he was taking the steps to rebrand now, before he launched into the new sector. We needed to look a little closer at the existing logo and work out what really wasn’t working.

From a design point of view, the typography is weak. The font choice is very American, a collegiate style font that doesn’t really sit well in the UK market. The balance in sizing compared to the silhouettes is also wrong, both of our market research subjects said that the JC brand was difficult to read at a smaller size on screen and in print. And the silhouettes were also wrong, they were all adults playing sports, but JC are all about children, games and PE. Going through this process of research was a valuable use of time as we now had some facts to work on as we started to work up our initial ideas for how the logo could look.

As we sketched through our initial ideas, something that played on our minds was the strapline JC were using, Grow • Achieve • Believe. This somehow wasn’t saying the right thing and sounded like a primary school motto rather than a strapline for a coaching business. It was clear that this needed some more thought, and Jack agreed.

Jack said, “The strapline is something we’ve struggled with for a while. It has never quite worked and we’ve spent a lot of time trying to come up with a new one. We thought we cracked it with Sports Educators but even that didn’t feel right after I slept on it. When Design Pit raised this issue with the strapline I was really pleased that they were really thinking about the whole identity rather than just how pretty they could make the logo look. Their approach was very holistic and covered all sorts of angles that I’d not considered”.

After a presenting our initial ideas to Jack, we had a clear direction in which to take the design. We had a second meeting to run over the feedback on the first proof and here we started to map out how the identity would span across four divisions of the JC business. In the early days, JC Academy was purely a holiday club company with Jack running around from club to club in his branded transit van, but now, over five years down the line, JC is much bigger and has developed several more service areas that needed to be considered in our work rebranding the business.

We established a new strapline in the second stage of the project and demonstrated our ideas in a more finished state. We looked at how the four divisions could be differentiated from the main brand but still feel part of a house style. The identity was really starting to take shape.

“The whole process of rebranding was daunting but I knew that we had to do it. Working with Design Pit was great as they took their time to understand our business and where we going. They didn’t just draw something pretty, they learned about coaching and thought about who we were talking to as potential customers. I’ve never found designers as thorough, their approach was quite unique” Jack commented.

If this blog has inspired you to look at your own brand, identity and logo and consider how a refresh could be in order, why not give us a call and discuss in more depth?

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