Rebranding Public Adult Education

DESE Adult and Community Learning Services

The Challenge

Biases complicating brand awareness

Biases complicating brand awareness

Massachusetts’ Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) funds programs that provide educational services to adults with academic skill levels below 12th grade or who need to build their English language skills. Beginning in April 2022, ACLS partnered with Argus to make ACLS relevant and top-of-mind for education partners, qualified teachers, and prospective students for adult education across the state.

Our research highlighted significant misunderstandings and biases in the general perception about public adult education. GED recipients were seen by many potential employers as damaged or compromised – a risk not worth taking. To make things worse, the lack of a strong unified brand – for both ACLS as well as public adult education as a whole – made it more difficult to reach prospective students, expand capacity, and recruit the best educators into the field. The upshot was a lack of recognition for the unique value that public adult education brings for Massachusetts’ economy and way of life.

Services Provided:

  • Strategy
  • Creative and Design
  • Video/Photography
  • Strategic Messaging
  • Digital
  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Research
  • Website
  • Website

The Solution

Finding the grit

To bridge this gap, we flipped the adult education story by building a unified, student-centric brand for no-cost public adult education itself, with ACLS as its steward and promoter. Our goal was to make it clear to all that ACLS speaks for adult education in Massachusetts – and clearly convey the value that it creates for students, stakeholders, and the whole community. Access to adult education is foundational for Massachusetts residents and public adult education matters because the students matter. They choose to learn, overcoming great obstacles and making sacrifices to make education happen – our equitable future depends on their resilience, character, and perseverance.

Our campaign featured former and current students speaking to the value of their adult education experience in their lives. A new logo and strategic messaging raised the profile of Public Adult Education, while a video of impactful student interviews, new social media pages and social media assets, and an informational landing page kept the ACLS story front and center. The media campaign met the public where they were – through public transportation, gas station TVs, programmatic display, billboards, and social media. From headlines to graphics to imagery, bold elements leveraged the principles of adult education to their full effect and successfully introduced a bold new brand.

The Results

Pride on display

The campaign’s aspirational spirit, paired with students’ grit and determination, sparked social conversations about public education in Massachusetts and all that it has to offer. And the strategic messaging and brand guidelines ensured that the ACLS team has the infrastructure to continue to speak about public adult education and to build the brand throughout their organization, with their partners, and with the community. For the first time, public adult education in Massachusetts is speaking proudly in a singular unified voice.