Brands and Learning – Report

Posted on: Thursday 02 July 2015 5:40pm by Hannah Lee


  • Listen to your audience, never mind if that’s children, parents and teachers
  • Be aware that children learn outside of a school environment
  • In a school environment, make sure your brand is linked to the national curriculum
  • Constantly monitor feedback to remain aware of changing requirements
  • Involving your brand in a school can be beneficial for the businesses reputation and employee morale, as well as the receiving audience
  • Always remain credible – your audience will know if you have ulterior motives for being educational


Trevor Klein introduced the panel and the session with the aim of finding out why, what and how brands benefit from being educational, as well as how they benefit from offering services to schools.

The panel consisted of Suzie Adams (Nickelodeon), Greg Boardman (Rastamouse), Dan Efergan (Aardman) and Kathryn McColl (Edcoms) who all took it in turns to answer Trevor’s questions.

Why does Nickelodeon work in an educational capacity and why do they do it for free?

Suzie: Nickelodeon’s overall mantra is that kids rule, and are at the heart of everything Nickelodeon does. Suzie advises to never underestimate your audience. Nickelodeon has a commitment to be everywhere that kids are and from a digital perspective they are a free platform. They do so as they want to support, challenge and be a part of children’s lives ‘from nappy’s to skinny jeans.’

Research shows parents want educational content around characters that kids love, without kids realising its educational. It is important for their brand to align with the national curriculum.

What are people in education gaining from Edcoms?

Kathryn: They want to deliver educational impact, societal impact and their business objectives.

Edcoms get involved in education because education is a trackable tool which helps determine the impact the brand is making. It’s important to relate to corporate values and objectives, but in order to improve brand reputation rather than driving product sales.

Edcoms help to prepare young people for work as many teachers feel the national curriculum is missing this at early years and primary levels.

Having employees in schools can also improve employee engagement, boosting moral in their company.

Many young people are intimidated by traditional work environments because they aren’t familiar with them, so brands in education can help solve these problems.

How do the Rastamouse brand benefit from educational involvement?

Greg: Rastamouse was in education long before it was on TV. But being in education allows children to build a relationship with a character beyond the screen, resulting in a more trusted relationship between the brand and audience.

What can Aardman do by involving their characters in education?

Dan: Aardman have a desire to inspire but education is not part of Aardman’s actual remit. Characters can be used to impart knowledge in different ways rather than being in schools. But Aardman are establishing centres that show teachers how to make use of digital apps in schools. Dan says it’s all about reach, and for Aardman, audience access is at the start of every conversation. Audiences are valuable and brands can offer access to a wider demographic. ‘Story is a powerful aspect of humanity’ and can be used to impart important and complex information outside of schools.

From a channel perspective you have both channel and characters. How do you use those together?

Suzie: They complement each other to help demystify the educational curriculum. Kids can learn in a natural way with their favourite characters.

Can you tell us about risks of using the Rastamouse character in schools?

Greg says there is very little risk at the moment. It is important for sustainable educational impact to never do a one off as it won’t have the credibility, so something like their 10 week workshop using musical instruments is great to leave a legacy.

Are there any risks that accompany working with large brands?

Kathryn: There is a fine line between developing education using a brand, and selling a product specifically. High quality brands need high quality educational values. Educational impact must be seen as credible to the brand, so working closely with teachers to understand their needs is vital.

Final note

Suzie’s final words perfectly summarise the importance of working closely with the end audience throughout the design process: ‘Don’t be half arsed because you won’t do ANYONE any good.’

For full details of the speakers, check the Session Guide.

Event Reports

Hannah Lee

About the author

Hannah Lee

Sheffield Hallam University, Graduate

I am a recent English and History graduate of Sheffield Hallam University who is currently seeking full time employment. My interests include reading, writing and latin and ballroom dancing. I have enjoyed being a general volunteer at The CMC for the previous two years. This year I have successfully become… Read more