Stafford House

Explore your English

Stafford House, owned by Cambridge Education Group, is an international group of high quality English language schools. The business approached Mystery for help with a rebranding exercise, having added to their international offering with the purchase of new sites in the USA and Canada.

The innovative company was particularly keen to work with us,  recognising an opportunity in the market to differentiate themselves through a hospitality-led design scheme, rather than a corporate educational space.

Brand positioning

The strategic positioning was all about defining the brand architecture for the new unified business as it transitioned from a UK operation to an international group.

Comparably priced as an international group of high quality English language schools, Stafford House stands out in a crowded market serving over 70 nationalities. Their flexible approach is designed to ensure that every one of their students has an engaging learning experience that expands their confidence and exposes new paths to success.

With this in mind and following our own research, we re-positioned the school as a place for personal development, leaning heavily on the “Explorer” brand archetype to convey the business’s focus on empowering and encouraging their students in all aspects - both extracurricular as well as academic - to give them the confidence they need as a young adult looking forward to their future.

Brand Identity

In order to convey the international focus of the brand, Stafford House School of English was changed to Stafford House International, using ‘Explore Your English’ as a strapline to highlight both the international element and the sense of adventure of the explorer archetype.

We re-designed the logo, moving away from orange (which is used by many other brands in the sector), to a distinct, positive, vibrant and engaging yellow and blue combination.

The identity and messaging also includes the Stafford House Lions, conceived during a strategic brand positioning process carried out by our Californian office, following the key insight that US students are extremely proud of the the high schools, colleges and universities they attend and avidly support their teams - often named after animals, just like professional NFL Football teams.

This insight combined neatly with the idea that Lions (already the motif for the parent company) are strong, adventurous and the kings of the jungle - a powerful icon that symbolised the personal development and boost in confidence that the students achieve by mastering English, which is at the very core of the Stafford House brand.

We were also keen to create a sense of a proud community for the graduates and alumni that none of the other competitor English language schools have done - to help generate an effective advocacy platform for the schools.

According to feedback from the client, this has been achieved in a short space of time, accelerated through social media channels, tagged #staffordhouselions, with students proudly snap-chatting and posting selfies in front of the lion-themed Instagram backdrops we created within the space.

Brochure Design

Stafford House required an entirely new set of sales and marketing collateral, including prospectuses, brochures and various new graphics to be used across all collateral including their website.

The new prospectus and brochure, designed by Mystery has set the styling for the rest of the brand’s collateral and all subsequent print and graphic work.

Interior Design - San Francisco

Mystery was asked to design the overall look and feel, colour concept for the entire space, while developing and defining key zones within the site, including reception area, break-out spaces and student lounge.

The idea was to create an exciting hospitality-style environment that would distinguish Stafford House from its competitors through a branded interior experience.

Each site is location-specific and aims to reference the heritage, culture and industry of its location. No matter the building’s structure, each site is also designed to be bright, inspirational and youthful, yet at the same time comfortable, welcoming and like a home from home for the students.

In the case of San Francisco, we were inspired by the city’s arcade gaming heritage for many of the design elements; including space invader motifs and oversized, playful, yet comfortable soft furnishings. For the San Diego site, we were motivated by surfing; and for the forthcoming Toronto site, we will be taking reference from local architecture to inspire our designs.

Working with local architects, Nichols Booth, the San Francisco office building was stripped back to expose raw concrete and girders, helping to achieve our vision for a loft-living, non-corporate environment, more relevant to the young target market who want to travel, make friends and learn English in America.

The San Francisco site is a large, industrial building with one huge space. We created zones throughout the space with inset rugs and carpets to define each area. Polished concrete floors and industrial steel girders of the building’s structure are juxtaposed with soft woolen ottomans, comfy sofas, oversized den-style chipboard seating, cushions and carpeted areas.

The bold, primary colours of the brand identity were toned down for the interiors, with a neutral base of muted greys and subtler shades, with flashes of blue and yellow at key points, such as the reception signage, lockers and the yellow chairs scattered throughout the area.

The result is a warm, welcoming and fun space that both inspires students to learn, and gives them a sense of excitement for their future. This feeling is neatly summed up with the large “Hello Future” sign at reception.

We wanted to take a fresh approach to an education brand, and were looking for an agency that could cover both brand and interior design. Applying their hospitality insight to our international education business has been a great success. The new brand flows through everything we do, and we’ve taken it to heart an implemented into our company’s mission and culture. This has enabled us to integrate our acquisitions in the USA and Canada more easily and present ourselves to the global market with confidence and pride not only in what we look like, but in what we do. The team brought a wide range of skills, from interior and graphic design, to conceptual needs analysis. We would thoroughly recommend working with them, we are continually impressed and surprised by their innovative approach to our projects.
Stephan Roussounis, Managing Director, Stafford House International

As well as San Francisco, the San Diego site has now been finished and Calgary and Toronto are next in line for refurbishment and re-branding.

read more contact us and be inspired SHARE PROJECT