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Jacob Bailey Group: Why UK edtech needs a rebrand

OpinionTechnology
By Heather McLean | 27 July 2017
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Create DateJuly 27, 2017
Last UpdatedJuly 25, 2017

By Shaun Bailey, founder and CEO, Jacob Bailey Group.

From preschool to university and beyond, education in the UK is experiencing a revival thanks to cutting edge digital technology. As educational institutions rouse themselves in order to keep up with the times, the opportunities presented to edtech brands are manifold. There are now well over 1,000 edtech companies in the UK alone.

Of course, for every plus there must be a minus. While the industry booms, the market becomes flooded. As edtech businesses vie to achieve cut-through, they are at risk of losing sight of their role for the many different people using their products and services.

Because while digital thrives, UK education, at least at the moment, is less of a success story. Staff are time-poor, OFTSED looms, while budgets continue to feel the pinch. Every week, headlines herald firings, closures and drastic cost-saving measures.

And what of the impact on students? Curriculums are also undergoing big overhauls to prepare them for the new world order. The introduction of digital technology to classrooms – whether interactive blackboards, apps to help kids manage their time better or teaching skills such as coding – is all part of the story. But how can institutions give their students the support and creative freedom they need to flourish?

This is exactly where edtech should come in. Teachers can benefit from smart, time saving services, while children can learn in a more dynamic, collaborative way. But it’s also beneficial for those people typically behind the scenes. Parents can better keep track of what goes on inside the school gates, for instance. Management and operations benefit from services that simplify and streamline their day to day role. Edtech has the ability to improve things for stakeholders in every facet of education; all have different needs, but are united in wanting more effective, enjoyable and sustainable education for their pupils.

However, the options available in edtech can be dizzying, particularly for educational institutions which can be traditionally slow to move with the times. People need help deciding what they really need. This is where the brand is paramount.

Businesses in every sector today are reassessing what they mean to their consumers, which is embodied in the brand. For fashion and FMCG brands, for instance, their positioning is towards becoming lifestyle choices, improving how people feel about themselves. Following the financial crash, many bank brands are seeking to communicate an honest, accessible approach to help customers go about their day to day lives. No matter what these companies do for consumers, one thing unites their ambitions; value.

The same should be said of edtech brands. At its most basic level, edtech exists to help people manage better. Often businesses can be guilty of using marketing to bang their own drum, instead of identifying how they uniquely stand to help people and simplifying the choice.

The fact that education institutions are embracing the digital revolution is exciting. Edtech brands have a virtually unprecedented opportunity to teach and nurture the people who will soon be standing at the helm of the UK’s digital future. Those that truly understand the current climate, their users’ pain points and aspirations, while capturing the spirit of education today, will be more likely to play a hero’s role.

Jacob Bailey Group is a direct digital engagement agency.


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