BBC Bitesize Rebrand: Creating a sophisticated online brand experience
With a mission to enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain, the BBC has been a pioneer in supporting learning for people of all ages. In 1998, it launched BBC Bitesize, an online resource for independent study primarily targeted at students outside of a school/teacher context. Providing a rich mix of written content, audio, video, infographics, interactive activities and guides, Bitesize has a huge impact on the learning journeys of today’s students. With a total of 80% of UK secondary school students using Bitesize and over 2.5m browsers a week during term time, their scope for impact is huge.
In 2017, the BBC approached Rufus Leonard to help them with a difficult mission. The 20th anniversary of one of the jewels in their crown was fast approaching and Bitesize was in need of a major rebrand.
Historically, online studying tools were designed to meet the needs of either specific age ranges (for example GCSE students) or to cover specific subject matter. The BBC Bitesize team had the huge ambition of building a new online portal that would cater for both.
With the introduction of the sign-in, the whole product proposition was being reimagined and rebuilt to give every young person in the UK a personalised, student-directed, structured learning experience. The brief was three-fold:
- Create a brand for a world-class educational service that’s personalised and progression-based
- Redesign a brand that is future-proofed to evolve with the growth of Bitesize and the BBC Masterbrand strategy
- Deliver a digital brand experience that feels appropriate for learners of all ages and abilities
Strategy & innovation
We started by unearthing all the research that had been done previously, as well as investigating competitors and complementary markets, best practice in experience design, audiences, different types of learners, the role of emotions in learning and the principles of the learning process. We audited the rich history of the brand and its visual and verbal identity and started to break down the component parts of successful digital and truly flexible brand systems.
We uncovered some fascinating insights that helped guide our thinking:
- To move people to learn, the brand itself must move
- Orange sends oxygen to the brain and stimulates mental activity
- We need to take back the “bite-sized” learning experience
Despite recognising the need to be adaptive, one clear core purpose, backed up with a promise to connect the experience, was needed at the heart of the solution.
Working in partnership with the BBC’s in-house UX team, we developed an experience framework that could accurately reflect the new brand experience and provide the structure required for a successful creative development. We tested the brand in all 4 nations, across Bitesize’s vast demographic, taking on feedback and changing things (like illustration styles) to ensure the very best experience for everyone.
We followed the 80/20 rule, focusing on a combination of consistent brand anchors like the [brand]mark, typeface and art direction that creates the best experience for every learner. More flexible elements like colour, animation, and photography were visual signposts to quickly show the learner is in the right place for their ability and adapt the experience accordingly.
We completely redesigned the Bitesize platform, with a new logo, a bespoke font, a new tone of voice, colour palette, the introduction of ‘sparks’, new illustrations and photography.
In all of this, Bitesize’s diverse audience and their differing needs were considered. Elements like the colour change depending on the age of the user (for example, post-16 users will experience purple and blue gradients – proved to be calming during exam and test situations).
The new digital property clearly caters for the entire Bitesize audience.
Every element of the BBC Bitesize rebrand supports the ambitions of the BBC Masterbrand whilst flexing to deliver a distinct brand experience for its target audience of 3 to 16+ year olds.
The rebrand of the digital property went live in August 2018 and was met with acclaim from both the target audience and those inside the BBC.
‘It’s hugely exciting to be able to mark our big Bitesize birthday with a fresh look, new features and material that will directly impact the lives of our audience. We know that for many over the last twenty years Bitesize has been the difference between passing and failing key exams. We’re looking forward to doing even more in the next twenty years to help support every young person in the UK to reach their full potential.’
Sinead Rocks, Director of Education at BBC Education
‘We love the new design and features… To another 20 years!’
Stuart Brown, Engineering Team Lead at BBC Education