Teacher Redesign Revealed

Studio 360 Redesigns

Friday, January 20, 2012

For the last five years Studio 360 has been hiring graphic design teams to rethink various cherished symbols — from the gay pride flag, to the board game Monopoly. Last fall, Kate Ahearn from Haverhill, Massachusetts, wrote in begging us to redesign the image of teachers. "I have been teaching for 15-plus years and have enough of what I deem 'apple crapple' to last me a lifetime." She detests the corny old-fashioned visual junk educators get stuck with — apples, ABCs, 123s, one-room schoolhouses with bells on top.

We recruited the New York design firm Hyperakt, founded by Julia Vakser Zeltser and Deroy Peraza. They arrived at the trope of connecting the dots. It was important to show that "teachers weren't just dictators of knowledge, but as guides they help students connect the dots," Peraza explains.

See Hyperakt's full presentation and download the visuals

Hyperakt used a warm yellow color palate and a typeface called Chevin to build their key image: the word "teach" made up of dots and lines. That “wordmark” can be applied to a wide variety of products and messages, from campaigns to recruit teachers, to bathroom signage, to temporary tattoos. And even though the motif is about teachers, the designers say they want students to own the message. "This is about connecting the dots,” Peraza says, “but it's not about having teachers connect all the dots for you.



Video: Studio 360 Redesigns: Teachers


For our latest redesign project, Studio 360 asked the New York design firm Hyperakt to rebrand teachers. The design team found inspiration in the words of poet and educator Mark Van Doren.


Hyperakt compares the art of teaching to connecting dots, and the role of teachers to guides.


“Teach” becomes a call to action.


A poster created by the team.




A poster as it might appear on a bus shelter.


The motif can also be applied to signage.


The connecting-the-dots motif is applied to bathroom doors.


The design team also created a temporary tattoo which could be used for a school spirit campaign. Hyperakt wanted to create something that "wasn't cheesy, that stays in the same visual language,” Deroy Peraza explains, “that students might be able to own."

    Music Playlist
  1. Don't Be a Drop-Out
    Artist: James Brown
    Album: Star Time
    Label: Polydor / Umgd
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. An Apple for the Teacher
    Artist: Bing Crosby & Connie Boswell
    Album: Only Forever
    Label: Empress
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Apple Juice Break
    Artist: Charizma
    Album: Big Shots
    Label: Stones Throw
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. We're Going to be Friends
    Artist: The White Stripes
    Album: White Blood Cells
    Label: Warner Bros.
    Purchase: Amazon

Produced by:

Michele Siegel

Comments [47]

I L..O...V..E this rebranding! I'm a 6th grade t...e..a....c..h...e....r. Thank you for deeping the understanding of what it means to teach and learn in today's world. It is spot on :) period.

Jun. 27 2012 10:30 AM
Tim G. from Austin, TX

This is wonderful, literally. It is full of wonder which is a healthy aspect of learning, and teaching for that matter.

I am so happy to see projects such as this emerging around teaching and education. Thank you to Hyperakt for taking on the challenge of making such necessary visual stimulus for things often difficult to imagine visually, and also to Studio360 for spreading the word.

Mar. 06 2012 09:36 PM
John Stangl from North St. Paul, MN

I have been teaching for 43+years. This type of "brandwashing" is nothing more than superficiality. The real essence of an education requires effort, persistence, and passion from the students - something I am sorry to say is becoming more scarce each year I teach. And no, I am not burned out or stupid/lazy like the general public would like to "brand" me for even making such assertions. john stangl, North St. Paul, MN

Feb. 28 2012 06:03 PM
Tina Williamson from Australia

I certainly believe that the profession needs reinvigorating(ie both teachers and learners need to be more engaged)and if these designs go some way towards creating a shift, then it can only be a good thing. Teaching and learning should be cool/sick (insert the latest word).

Feb. 13 2012 06:02 PM
Kalie McMonagle

You wouldn’t think this would be interesting, because it’s radio, right? You can’t see it unless you’re near a computer. Well one of the toughest parts of radio is coming up with ideas for stories. Say you think this local food movement is really interesting. It’s new and it’s trendy, but unless you have someone or something that’s undergone an interesting shift in the local food movement, the story doesn’t work. No one wants to hear a story about how some people really like gardening so they started selling food in their community and it was nice. Well using the idea of redesign allows producers to explore big communities and big ideas by making the action of the story in radio itself. Now we can get to the core of what makes teacher’s tick, what’s new in teaching, how do we perceive teacher’s, how should we communicate about them without a really boring story. Studio360 makes "radio" a verb rather than a noun this way.

See the full review of Studio360 here: http://kaliedoscope.posterous.com/

Feb. 05 2012 04:02 PM
Akalinda from Walnut creek, CA

I love the movement of the design also the openness of dots and lines. The design seems open to the creative process

Feb. 05 2012 03:14 AM
Janet Daijogo from Mill Valley, CA

This is my 50th year of teaching young children! Your Teach designs are splendid. They graphically depict what I feel when I'm teaching. Thank you so much!
With gratitude,

Feb. 04 2012 07:01 PM
Tracy from Las Vegas

I like the idea of getting rid of the old school design and mainstreaming something that is universal. The concept is great and thought provoking for a diversified audience. I have begun to question "what does the apple on my desk represent?" "Does it distract the hungry child?" It will be gone on Monday!

Feb. 04 2012 05:30 PM
Jessie from St. Louis

I never want books or pencils to go extinct because of the nostalgia connected to them from my own childhood and the tactile sensations associated with physical tools, but we in education need to accept that education is changing. Technology is creating a wide range of possibilities, allowing us to learn more about more in different ways and more quickly. I'm having trouble accepting that fact, but that doesn't change reality.
Reality is that teachers get a bad rap and are an extremely stubborn group of people (myself included) who have trouble accepting change on the whole. I didn't know we needed a new image (plenty of other problems to focus on), but I do think the idea of connecting the dots is more modern and applicable than an apple. I wonder if a new image would be accepted and thought necessary. It's certainly something to ponder.

Feb. 04 2012 02:14 PM
valerie lopes from Toronto

This is brilliant and fits so well with the theme for the Ontario College's Advancing Learning Conference this year - http://advancinglearning.ca

Feb. 04 2012 10:42 AM
John Metcalf from Michigan

I have to say, I was pretty skeptical when I heard that Studio360 was going to be taking on this branding "problem." The images and artifacts around teaching are pretty deeply ingrained.

That said, I think the solution provided by Hyperakt is pretty brilliant. They have really distilled the whole goal of teaching and been able to turn it into a brand. All too often, big concept branding turns into an exploration of blob forms. They have a good solid logic behind the brand, and have made it flexible enough to fit almost any need or situation. By keeping the color palette simple—but again, logical—they colors and type handling becomes the brand more than any single mark.

Well done. I hope this can become a reality.

Jan. 29 2012 02:14 PM
Patricia McHugh

1] Yellow=cheery, but "fiddling while Rome burns"? 2]I sooo agree w/John from NYC,1/20/12.3]When other professions excluded, we smart women subsidized education. Now? Many semi-literates in classrooms & principals' offices in SLPS & elsewhere. Pay THEM to go back to school-not their fault colleges graduated them!

Jan. 28 2012 06:03 PM
Joe Clark from Toronto

No, what they used was a warm color palette.

Jan. 26 2012 10:26 PM
Carol Yamrozik from Pittsburgh

You need a teacher with experience to create the concept. Connecting the dots does not work for me. I have a better idea which would embrace all levels of education and what teachers accomplish. Get in touch with me if you want to hear my idea.

Jan. 24 2012 07:28 AM
brian from Upstate New York

I'd be interested to see where Hyperact takes their ideas. No doubt, this is a really abstract and far reaching concept to create a new identity from. As a designer and the son of a grade school teacher, I am well aware of all the outdated associative symbols that come with the idea of 'teacher'.

I almost think that a re-brand of the entire occupation would be appropriate. The term 'educator' is more relevant to me in this day and age where educational professionals are expected to specialize more, have working knowledge of many digital technologies, aid in developing curriculums and are able to work with a broad array of learning abilities.

One identity may not be enough to represent the entire occupation.
That said, bravo to Hyperact for getting to work on this challenging project!

Jan. 23 2012 01:56 PM
Kevin R. Fish from San Jose, California

It is refreshing that a more accurate image of teachers is presented, but let us not forget that many teachers and administrators lie about substitute teachers. I was a substitute for several years, and it happened to me and other substitutes with whom I have spoken. Our experiences were in Santa Clara County, California.

Jan. 23 2012 12:15 PM
David from Seattle, WA

I am a teacher who appreciates the idea of a redesign. There are many aspects that I like about the revealed branding but it seems a bit stale - too modern and impersonal. I like the idea of the tattoo, a bit of the post-modern thrown in. More of this in the reveal would be nice. I feel like the aesthetic has a science/tech bent which is popular but limited in its scope. One thing to consider is the artificial construction of domains (math, science, art, etc) and ways we can see beyond this construct to value what we really do.

Jan. 22 2012 10:40 PM

Brilliant! Education needs a make-over and this could be it. The design speaks across disciplines, cultures, and demographics. Though 'cheese wagon' yellow is dismissed by secondary students, pairing it with the charcoal might just make it acceptable again. Excellent! A+ on your work, Hyperakt.

Jan. 22 2012 07:40 PM
lizzie from Brooklyn

I don't think the campaign works at all! I don't think the dots and lines evoke a positive feeling, and I don't think the campaign ever achieves a cohesive concept. There's not even one main logo, and the points and lines are too varied to make any sense. The male and female figures look like they have a skin disease, and as others have pointed out, the dots and lines generally look science-y.

I also don't care for the use of the word "TEACH". It sounds like a commandment. None of us likes to be told what to do.

I think the designers should have picked one symbol and stuck with it. If it's going to really replace the apple (which, though child-like, has such a warm appeal), it should be with another everyday object to really make an impact.

Do you know what I think work for this project- to be a more positive, more intuitive, more uplifting, and, well, illuminating symbol for teaching?

A flashlight!

I don't even think I'd have to explain the concept to you- it speaks for itself!!

Jan. 22 2012 06:51 PM
Clare from New York

A "connect the dots" approach seems to oppose the lovely idea, "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery."

Jan. 22 2012 03:14 PM
bjb from Naples, FL

Agree with Lj. Idea sounded good but when I saw the design it made me think of a nuclear facility.

Jan. 22 2012 02:46 PM
James Inman from Berkeley, CA

I followed this briefly when you introduced the idea but illuminating the design process really made it come full circle. I found the designers thoughtful and considering all the assorted directions a project like this could take I found their approach and final design satisfying. I can also see where user input, in this case teachers, is invaluable to designers.

Thanks again for producing the varied and great segments each week!

Jan. 22 2012 01:26 PM
Christy from Nashville, TN

This is awesome! It really makes school seems more current.

Jan. 22 2012 11:45 AM

Personally, If I hadn't heard the explanation and theory behind it I would never had got that message from the design itself. If I saw it on the 'SCHOOL' sign without knowing the background my first thought would have been Huh? Then I would have thought atom.

Jan. 22 2012 10:59 AM
Amy Himes from Omaha, Nebraska

Outstanding. I'm a 20 year veteran teacher, Master's prepared, National Board Certified. No doubt, education needs an image revolution.

Jan. 22 2012 10:23 AM
Galeet from Philly

I think this campaign is a huge improvement over the past iconography. When I was in grad school (for my Ed Masters- ahem, John from NYC) we joked about creating a "Pedagogy Power" campaign and tested some cheesy t-shirts. My favorite icon from this campaign actually doesn't appear until the end of the presentation- it's the infinity symbol with the dotted line. I hope Hyperakt will consider replacing the image on the metal school street sign with it instead. It symbolizes to me that learning is an infinite process and that teachers have infinite influence on the world through their students. It's that idea that wakes me up in the morning.

Jan. 22 2012 09:20 AM
lori from Minnesota

Brilliant design work - very inspiring towards recruiting teachers into an industry that can seem somewhat stale.

Jan. 22 2012 07:36 AM

I did explore the design firm Hyperakt on the web.
Hyperakt has some good interactive work in their portfolio.
They service some big name clients...but, they didn't hit
the mark with their work for Studio 360, in my opinion.


Jan. 21 2012 08:52 PM

I could not agree more with art525 from Park Slope. What is presented here in not a 2012 "solution"...it IS the product/one stream of a short "brainstorming" session.
(How was this agency chosen by Studio 360? What are the credentials of these designers

After a 25+ year career as a Senior Designer for a major non-profit in the Boston market...I find this presentation no more than the work of a first year college Design student. No offense, but you guys can't be in New York City...

Studio 360, as the "client" asked for a rebrand for "TEACHER" (a person), not "TEACH" (verb).
In the Real World professional designers don't get to reframe projects to that degree.

The connection on the School street sign looks more like a "Chemical Bond"...maybe you should have stayed away from an already established scientific "visual language"...

Jan. 21 2012 05:16 PM
Stella Katz from NYC

Brilliant concept, endlessly adaptable modular system, beautiful visuals (practical and poetic), energizing and engaging persona. The only element that may need revisiting is the execution of the TEACH logo: the relationship between the lines and dots doesn't embody their concept - yet. Also worth mentioning, the low-key, modest presentation style of this visionary and talented design team. Kudos to everyone involved!

Jan. 21 2012 04:43 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Well I guess I'm the odd man out here. I find nothing terribly stimulating, nothing very surprising, nothing very engaging and nothing very enlightening here. ANd the graphics are very much what one sees everywhere. The dandelion in particular reminds me of graphics on billboards in Prospect park touting the new skating rink. It's amazing how cliched so much contemporary graphics is.

Jan. 21 2012 04:36 PM
Dean Bull from Traverse City, MI

I suggest we change the name of the person-in-front-of-the classroom from 'teacher' to 'learning agent'. It more precisely defines their true role. Teach is a transitive verb--I am going to do something to you. Adversarial at a minimum.

Jan. 21 2012 04:20 PM

A great re-design effort, thank you Studio360 and Interakt. To echo what others have already said here, one wishes the materials were distributed and available to all through a Creative Commons license. I direct an afterschool program in Alexandria, Virginia and would be very pleased to disseminate this perspective to students, staff, parents and the community. This is great. Keep going, do more, allow for and make it easy to go viral.

Jan. 21 2012 03:44 PM
JKLMN from Nebraska

Outstanding!! Educating an individual requires many dots to be connected in often very complicated situations and it is never completely finished. I like the use of the verb "teach" because it goes beyond those who are certified teachers and empowers all of us to teach others. All of us can be one of those dots making connections.

It is a bit disappointing though to see such negativity. This is simply an opportunity to find a symbol for education that is not an apple or ruler. We know that the U.S. flag is just one symbol for our country but it is not intended to represent everything that is involved. I think the same is implied here. There is power in symbolism and it is meant to ignite discussion, pride, and inspiration.

Being a life long learner should be a goal for all of us....and.... this symbol can represent people of all ages and backgrounds. Thanks for your work in taking the abstract/philosophical pieces of education and making it more concrete in this powerful visual display.

Jan. 21 2012 02:13 PM
Jim from Philadelphia, PA

When I heard the description on-air I was excited. When I saw the logo what I associated to was bullet holes, not "connect the dots". Sad.

Jan. 21 2012 01:37 PM
Dan from South Jersey 08085

This is brilliant! As someone who came to teaching from aerospace, I do think that teaching is so much more than what the general public thinks it is. So the connect-the-dots format does convey the idea of the interconnectedness of education. Yet, that being said. I do think that it will be difficult to get the apple icon disassociated with teaching. Perhaps the white dots can be white apple shapes. This will immediately convey the traditional iconography with the new icon. Thanks

Jan. 21 2012 10:17 AM
Robin Aronson from New York City

I'm a mid-career professional who decided to change careers and become a teacher. What gives me pause is the use of the exhortation "Teach." By discarding the noun "teacher" you sidestep the fairly complicated associations that the word generates, the assumptions about teacher quality professionalism and commitment to students (as opposed to pensions). But you also remove the specificity of the work. Sure, anyone can teach, but can everyone teach well? To teach well, to be a good teacher, takes time, practice, and a great deal of reflection. It takes discipline and a willingness to revamp and revise work that might have been quite time consuming. If by rebranding teachers you want to highlight the intellectual challenge of the work. Teaching is a craft, one that should demand commitment and respect. I wonder if using "Teach" instead of "Teacher" in a rebranding effort subtly undermines the profession while trying to elevate its task.

Jan. 21 2012 08:59 AM
Matthew from Maryland

This is good, but it does not respond to the brief. I am not convinced that that molecule thing is strong enough or unique enough to replace the apple. The overall campaign looks like something aimed at recruiting teachers as opposed to being a symbol to represent the profession.

If you have a caduceus, you know that means medicine, even though doctors no longer wrap tape worms on sticks as a form of treatment. But, the swiss cross also represents medicine. I just don't get how this molecule thing says "teaching" the way a pixelated icon of a book would immediately read as teaching. And even in the sub-brands they still have books, artist's palettes, and atoms when to comes to describing disciplines.

Everything about this is great, except for the fact that it doesn't do the one thing it was supposed to do.

Jan. 20 2012 09:38 PM
Susan from Woodside, Queens

I like what the designers came up with - it is lively, warm, and engaging, and the connect-the-dots idea is clever and apt. But I don't like the way they included books in their list of "childish" and "uninspiring" images, to be discarded with all the other "cliches" no longer relevant to the life of the teacher. How can you revere teachers while disparaging books?

Jan. 20 2012 08:21 PM

This campaign says things that need to be said. Teachers are to be revered. The profession is honorable and vital. Good teaching is an exercise in versatility and is not stuck in the irrelevant icons of the past.

The connect-the-dots theme could be expanded to make plain that parents are responsible for remaining connected to their child's educational interests as well. It also implies a student's integral role in the web of their learning experience.

When the idea of remaking the image of teachers was revealed as the next redesign, I was skeptical, but criticisms expressed here miss the point. The goal was not to "solve the problems of the current education system" but to reframe and refresh the way we think about teachers. This is very important. Our attitudes, and those of our children toward educators and schools, directly affect how we interact with them.

Thank you, Studio 360 for commissioning this project. As a school administrator, I plan to share this with my coworkers. Hyperakt surprised and moved me with this fully realized concept. Great work.

Jan. 20 2012 02:27 PM
Sandra Bromberg

Teaching is giving an understanding of what living is all about, setting an example and giving support. It is encouraging students to be creative with what they have learned. The government curriculum guides teachers with what to cover. Factual knowledge is important. But in order to learn this it has to be meaningful and apply to what a student wants and needs to be prepared to live productive happy lives.
Good teachers would make excellent leaders in our society. Golda Mier, was a teacher and a good leader. Unlike lawyers who are trained to take sides and defend their particular point of view, teachers are interested in advancing the welfare of all their students.
I think connecting the dots, rays of light, jumping for joy, peace, happiness, or anything that promotes the importance of teachers and teaching is good for the profession and the community.

Jan. 20 2012 12:35 PM
Robert Merola from Rego Park, NY

Beautiful. Teach as a verb both reminds and encourages everyone to play a role in the education process. Please provide some downloadable art. I'm sure there are eager teachers, PTA and Parent Associations who would quickly incorporate this re-brand to websites, flyers posters etc.

Jan. 20 2012 11:05 AM
John from NYC

How about teachers becoming PROFESSIONALS. You know, like engineers, doctors, architects, etc.

The truth that no one want to say is that today the weakest students go to education schools, and these schools are JOKES.

What it would take for teachers to be PROFESSIONALS.

Step 1. Attend a rigorous college and do well.

Step 2. Get into a rigorous graduate school, do well, and get a masters degree in the field one intends to teach – math if one is to be a math teach, biology if one is to be a biology teacher, English is one is to be an English teacher.

Step 3. Take and pass a rigorous licensing exam – you know, like one that less than half pass the first time around.

Step 4. Do internships and take post grad programs.

Step 5. Once in a job, take continuing ed courses every year for ones entire career.

Step 6. Be continually evaluated by peers.

And don’t tell me that –
- Teacher pay is too low to do this. Architects make a LOT LESS than do NYC teachers. People to things because they LOVE IT.

- People of such caliber that they could do all this do not go into teaching. Teach for American proves otherwise.

The best do not go into teaching, and those that do leave teaching, because they have to work in a system that has weak colleagues and weak administrators. They best leave because they cannot work with IDIOTS.

How to get this started? Suppose Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg (who gave $100 million to the Newark NJ schools – what has been the result of that??????? ) were to start a program that awarded people who do this the title MASTER TEACHER. That all you would have to do.

Then parents in at various schools would start asking – “Hey, how come we done have any Master Teachers at our school?”

- Nope – never gonna happen – all of this would be threat to a certain union which has bought the political system.

(In full disclosure, I am a member of that union. I am also a teacher -- 40 years in a college teaching architectural history, and I am also an architect, so I know a bit about being a professional, and a bit about how low that pay is for many professionals.)

Apologies for how long this is.

Jan. 20 2012 11:01 AM

The design is very nice. The bright yellow and tinker toy molecule is fun too, (though relying on some of the cliches it it is attempting to replace). The problem with our education system is not one of an image problem for teachers.

Jan. 20 2012 10:57 AM
Scott from Brooklyn

Although the design is pleasing the examples seemed to be more promotional/propaganist about recruiting teachers. "Learning" "experience" are also words that need to be included in the formation of learning by parents and peers. The "I Heart school" thing is also more feminine in its attachements. the graphics still seem to isolate the school as an outside entity not as inclusive.

Jan. 20 2012 10:54 AM
Beth from Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn

I loooooove this! Especially the font theme of 'connecting the dots'. That's exactly the goal of teaching- helping students to connect the dots.

Jan. 20 2012 10:48 AM

I have to say that I think the design is brilliant. I love the yellow/charcoal color palette and there is a great amount of optimism in it. I think it is also very forward and I would love to see this on some billboards between here in DC and central Texas.

Jan. 19 2012 09:07 PM

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