Deriving understanding between people allows us to work together. Both personally and professionally, and as a people. It’s how we build. It fuels progress.
Understanding forms the basis of all human achievement. It’s how we survive, and it’s how we will accomplish every great challenge yet ahead of us. Ultimately, understanding is how we will find peace and prosperity.
In today’s changing, globally interconnected world, understanding often requires more than a classroom. It requires being there. Learning new languages, awareness of cultural divides. It requires meeting new people from far away, and making new connections.
To this end, EF strives to create the world’s most effective education platforms that addresses these new requirements. To expand students’ knowledge, help them experience other cultures, and learn to communicate with new swaths of the world’s population.
Our approach to education, and what makes EF EF, exists at the intersection between Language, Cultural Exchange, Travel and Academics. Owning this nexus point is what sets us apart from travel companies or schools the world over, and every product across our landscape combines at least two of these four areas of specialization into its offering.
At EF we call what we do:
This is how we can build understanding. And this is how EF can make the world a better place.
Through understanding our what we do and why we do it, we can figure out who we are. Our who is our personality. It’s the voice over the phone or the conversation with a Tour Director. It’s the behaviour of our presence in the digital space, and we have to have constant traits to honour when we interact with our customers at all of these touch points:
Confident, focused and trustworthy.
Courageous, dedicated and encouraging
Personal, open-minded and inclusive.
Optimistic, energetic and creative.
When we start to combine thoughts about our who, why and what, there is the natural formation of a mission. We talk about our products bringing understanding, empathy, opportunity and transformation of oneself in a globalized world—but what does all of this mean for 20 or so business units, all operating in individual markets and with such contrasting customer agendas and personas?
Our mission is the direction we’re all moving toward, all in our own way. By embracing the foundations laid out in this introduction and encapsulate a united company culture together, we can all advocate a single shared mentality of:
Culturally immersive education is our ’what we do’. In the simplest, plainest English. On every point along the EF product spectrum, there are clear elements of education through being immersed in a culture. This is the shared DNA upon which the building blocks across EF are built.
It also acts as the very first starting point for how we look at our brand identity and then how we’ve created a cohesive system that works across such a wide range of products, all with different customers in different markets in every corner of the globe. Our defining design principle takes the form of a simple equation:
For us, Classic Academic Design refers to a range of design that spans traditional education, academia, mid-century modernism and industrial utilitarianism.
For example, a dictionary is classically academic. Scientific papers, Penguin Books, diplomas, field guides, measurements and equations, even government forms—all of these things exist to deliver information in a functional, utilitarian way. There is not much fussing about, there is a practical reason for everything. Legibility is a core requirement. There is pride in simplicity and usefulness.
As a design domain, Classic Academic Design is static, and unchanging because it is historic, traditional and locked in time. We are educators, after all. And the influence of Classic Academic Design communicates our heritage, our expertise, it gives us credibility and reminds customers that we are committed to educational excellence.
If Classic Academic Design is rooted in history and unchanging, Modern Adventurous Design is anything but.
It is dynamic and changing all the time; it is current. Being current requires bravery, which is why we say Adventurous. Here we are seeking new trends and looking for new design ideas that push the boundaries. We look not just at what other brave companies that brand themselves are doing, but we look further—we look at artists and creatives in other mediums to see what is inspiring them. We seek out the ideas that will become trends in a year. This currency is important, because EF is not a traditional educator.
Modern Adventurous Design reminds customers that we are always pushing ahead, employing new methodologies, experimenting, questioning the status quo, forward thinking and breaking from the pack.
When we blend these two conceptual sensibilities, it results in creative work that is both edgy and modern, but knows its roots. It results in bold, contemporary designs that seem to have science inside. It communicates intelligence and creativity. It can be irreverent in its use of historical ephemera. It can make dry information beautiful to look at and easy to consume.
This overlap is the sweet spot in which all design at EF should strive to hit. Depending on the product, the ratio of each principle will be defined, and the A→A product spectrum and the EF Identity Model can help with that.
Combined with the EF approach these key design principles, which are rooted in Academics and Adventure, directly inform our A→A product spectrum.
We can use this spectrum to help guide our personal creative compasses—depending on where a product sits on this chart can define an entire approach for a project towards copywriting, interior design, online information architecture and identity design (replace where relevant).
By sharing the same starting point we can ensure a degree of consistency between each product which supports the creative vision of a strong and unified EF—where we can all lean off of the brand equity each other create to push the company mission forward.
The balance of Academia and Adventure in any one product also works to define our underlying brand identity model. The model is made up of two parts:
The Core: The static area of the model, rooted in academic thinking which consists of strict rules regarding the EF logo, product lockups, typography and colour, and;
Product Expression: The dynamic area of the model, embracing adventurous exploration which allows room for individual products to define their own personalities and explore visual directions around color, photography, illustration, pattern and texture.
The ratio of core and expressive elements in any one product depends on that product itself, its place on the A→A product spectrum, its marketplace, its business strategy and much more.
The EF core is always central to every piece of product expression. By following those core rules, our products share a family resemblance and appear related at a glance — which is key for a global company and brand.
The inspiration for G.U.D. 4 came from a feeling.
A young explorer leaves home on a journey to learn. To widen her world. To bravely face the challenges of unknown places. Because deep down she wants to make the world a better place for herself and for others.
She has a backpack. A bag of books, technology, her stuff. She studies. Meets new people. She takes notes and records them in a field guide. She listens to music with friends. She totally enjoys herself. There is a beach, after all. She is on her own. It’s an adventure.
There is also kind of a lot of pink... this is the EF student.
G.U.D. 4 is all about our identity model: the shared DNA of the EF family. By following simple design guidelines, all of our distinct products can appear related at a glance.
Simply put, EF’s identity is:
Sure, the bag might change, but who we are stays the same.