Using Marketing & Brand Communications To Drive Education Equity

The communications team at Teach For India works to harness the power of innovative marketing and brand strategy to fuel the movement for equity in education. “The overarching idea is to engage with the larger audience, spark conversation and ignite action in support of an excellent education for all”, says Meghna Rakshit – Director, Marketing & Brand Communications. Over the past eight years, the team has built strong branding systems through the use of photography, videography & design and leveraged PR by facilitating sustainable recall through social & digital media, strategic brand collaborations, creative content as well as media marketing.

“We’re constantly pushing our thinking to come up with the most innovative ways to communicate with our audience at a stupendous level of detail. From tweet-a-thons & user generated campaigns on Instagram to designed campaigns backed by research to storytelling through video, photo & feature – there’s always something new to explore. We focus on constant innovation grounded in a thorough execution process plan. A great example is creating an engaging space for Teach For India at the Mumbai Marathon with some of our kids – without any budgetary spend whatsoever! Or the ‘Stand Up For Children’ video collaboration with Biswa, Kanan Gill & Abish Matthew that created the right ripples within our target audience pool.”

The team functions on very specific goals which go beyond just numbers and metrics to overall levels of engagement & results. There’s a ‘why’ behind every single goal and our strategy is continuously evolving basis learnings from every quarter”, says Meghna, “We centre our approach on design thinking – a research phase followed by a thorough analysis phase which finally leads to concept testing and feedback.

This blue ocean strategy is further balanced with a core sense of professional discipline – weekly check-ins with your manager helps prioritize projects and streamline processes.

On the topic of innovative ideation, the design process for the Teach For India Maya Musical has been by far one of the most interesting team projects. “Our big question was – how do we create the Maya brand in a way that also captures its impact. We took the Broadway musical script and worked with our participating kids to tap into their imagination and see what they saw when they thought of ‘Maya’. The emerging theme of ‘light overcomes darkness’ ended up being our inspiration for the Maya visual – a stained glass design which is an abstract of Maya’s face but incorporates all the different elements of the play inside the logo. The Maya logo has Maya’s pendant of light as a symbol of a child’s potential. Our very colour scheme was derived by capturing our children’s emotions as they prepared for the musical. And finally, we captured impact through video – it was so inspiring to see where our kids had started and where they finally ended through this journey!”

The recruitment campaign process is another example. “Initially, we used to just put together campaigns basis different ideas. Now, we focus on research to understand the motivations and barriers for a potential candidate to apply for the Fellowship program. We look at what worked through people who joined as well as those people who applied and didn’t get through. Basis these insights, we come up with various themes, concepts and directions and finally go with the one that clears user concept testing.”

Success stories also include Teach For India Week – an event that invited external stakeholders to engage with the movement. “One week across each of our seven cities that saw participation from corporate leaders to politicians and celebrities – we designed a customized classroom experience that encouraged active involvement with the students and which enabled them to understand the importance of what we do.” The event has facilitated a partnership with the Star Network for outreach and a development collaboration with Apple to bring technology in our classrooms, to name a few instances of long-term relationships.

The team believes in continuous learning – something that reflects through the divesting of 10-15% of every team member’s time in projects that lie outside of their fixed goals. “Silja, who leads videography for us, wanted to learn storytelling through the documentary format and noticed community voice to be a communication gap. She identified a community in Mumbai and shot with our kids and their families for over eight months to come up with a four-part series that illustrated their real life challenges and how these impact their child’s access to an excellent education!”



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