Penrose Learning Trust


South Suffolk Learning Trust approached us to create a new name, brand identity and design collateral for their Multi Academy Trust (MAT). Their existing name was limiting their geographic growth and their identity no longer represented who they were and their vision for the future. It’s always great to be involved right from the beginning.

We invest a lot of time in our clients. We listen, we ask lots of questions then we delve deeper to understand their goals, ambitions, and challenges.

Collaborative involvement from the start was key to the success and adoption of this new name and brand identity. We were conscious to work closely with all stakeholders to take them on the journey with us. The new name “Penrose Learning Trust‘ evolved from exploring the concept of multiple entities coming together to create a better, greater whole. Inspired by the tessellating Penrose pattern, it represents collaboration and growth, with each additional piece adding something new and interesting. Echoing the fact that the MAT benefits from every school’s unique identity. Read our full case study below.

It has been an amazing experience working with Wendy and Tim from WHAT associates. They understood our organisation and developed a brand that supports us into the future. Our name links to our curriculum while providing inspiration to all our pupils. We are delighted with their work and we can’t thank them enough.

Sarah Skinner, CEO Penrose Learning Trust


Phase 1. Discovery
Collaborative involvement from the start was key. It was critical to the success and adoption of this branding project that we understood the perceptions, ideas, and ambitions of the trust and all stakeholders. Focus groups and online questionnaires helped us gain knowledge and
insight from the Trust management team and the board of directors alongside head teachers, governors, school staff, students, and parents.

We also conducted our own research, competitor analysis, and a brand audit of all current marketing and communications. By being informed and aware of existing MAT identities we were able to discover commonalities in themes, patterns, and concepts which indicated how we could create stand-out in a crowded marketplace. The new MAT name needed to be relevant and original and allow for adaptation for future growth. Time spent in this phase gave us the foundation we needed to move forward with name concepts

Phase 2. Strategy, naming and brand identity
We build brands from the inside out. Strategy forms the foundation from which everything else grows. We use the research and insights from the Discovery phase to inform our strategy. A name is what everyone sees first, but it is a reflection of everything else.

Changing a name is a delicate process that requires careful consideration and planning. We have a 3 step process to ensure the right people are involved from the beginning and they are all taken on the journey with us. This includes ensuring all stakeholders are listened to, the brief is defined with clear objects, the strategy and positioning are succinct, relevant concept territories are explored and a thorough validation process is undertaken including intellectual property registration for copyright protection.

The priority for the MAT was to attract new schools from a wider geographic area and to ensure individual schools felt connected to the MAT and appreciated for their individual merit. Communicating a sense of cooperation between schools, teachers, students, and their community was really important as was a strong sense of collaboration, support, and celebrating academic achievement.

The process began with round table discussions and idea generation. We then developed ideas and presented two rounds of naming concepts.
We did not present hundreds of names, in fact, 4 names were proposed in total. The decision was unanimous.

Penrose Learning Trust

The naming concept is rooted in education, mathematics, investigation, research and provenance, Sir Roger Penrose was born in Colchester, near the MAT headquarters. The name developed from exploring the concept of multiple entities coming together to create a better, greater whole. This in turn led us to Aperiodic Tiling and Penrose Tilings. An abstract pattern that grows from the same basic units but has no periodic repetition.

Brand Identity
Penrose tiling patterns are formed from two tiles that can only tile the plane non-periodically and are the first tilings to exhibit fivefold rotational symmetry. The design grows centre out. Projecting from within, it doesn’t repeat but uses the same two pieces. In our case, these represent our primary and secondary schools. The tessellating pattern represents collaboration and growth with each additional piece adding something new and interesting. Echoing the fact that the MAT benefits from every school’s unique identity.

The logo mark has evolved from the tessellating tiles rather than a direct copy of the pattern. A strong central core was created using the Fibonacci sequence. The pentagonal grid sits below the design within which we positioned the darts, although they’re not directly positioned in the pattern they have a satisfying rhythm in their relationship with it and a sense that they are joining.
Each kite is a different colour to express the variety and individuality of each school within the MAT.

The typographic treatment is highly legible and geometric, the tittle (dot on the ‘i’) has been replaced with a dart to create a synergy with the icon.
The Colour palette is bright and welcoming. The colours are not representative of particular schools, rather they are a visual demonstration of the coming together of different entities to create a stronger more vibrant whole.
The tile pattern can be used as a secondary graphic element to support the brand identity and bring a uniform feel across the website, signage, prospectus, marketing etc.

A brand communicates in three ways; the way you look, the way you sound and the way you behave.
As well as developing a visual identity we created messaging architecture and verbal identity guidelines. We carefully considered the entire brand system to ensure it is scalable and flexible to grow and evolve with the ambition of the MAT. We created a thorough set of brand guidelines to allow the Trust and individual schools to translate their visual/verbal identity clearly and consistently across any medium they require.

Phase 3. Design Sustainability is a key consideration for us.

We have worked on a range of design projects for Penrose Learning Trust, since their rebrand. We have worked closely with our suppliers and manufacturers to make good decisions based on material selection, longevity, and function.

  • Lanyards made from recycled plastic bottles (PET bottles) and biodegradable portrait card holders
  • We have chosen to repurpose and refurbish existing signage structures and ensure composite signage materials were specified which were recyclable while also being fit for purpose and strong to ensure longevity
  • Each school within the Trust now displays a Penrose plaque which is 100% recyclable stainless steel.
  • Main school signage displays the Trust brand identity and school name. A deliberate decision was made to not include individual school logos as these may evolve over time. This ensures the signage is a permanent fixture.
  • Recyclable, recycled, and sustainable materials were used as a preference for all printed materials Penrose-branded items were shared across the MAT to reduce costs and create consistency across the board. Stationary, Presentation templates, Prospectus, Newsletters, Lanyards and Signage.
  • We worked with Penrose Learning Trust and their preferred 3rd party website partner to ensure the identity was on-brand.

We are working with Penrose Learning Trust to create an image bank of photography to ensure a consistent and cohesive brand look and feel.

What next?
We will continue to support Penrose Learning Trust and the schools within the Trust to evolve and implement their new identity.

Client: Penrose Learning Trust
Signage: @hudsongroupltd

Get in touch
Whether you require a new name and brand identity or are interested in evolving your identity, we can help. Please get in touch.