What’s in a Name?
How the Learning Policy Institute used communications research to create a unique brand identity.

When a team of Silicon Valley-based education experts launched a new think tank, they needed a brand identity that would stand out in a crowded field of education research organizations. True to their belief in the power of research, the team commissioned communications research to create a brand identity that would resonate with an audience of policymakers and influencers.

“Learning” was core to the think tank’s identity. The word expresses the aspirational outcome of effective education, as well as the organization’s core function.  An analysis of prominent brands in the space showed that no other organization used the word in its name. Our Winning Words™ message-testing technology showed that stakeholders were intrigued by the idea of a “learning” organization, which they associated with positive traits such as “adaptive,” “self-evaluating,” and willing to eschew “orthodoxy.”

This qualitative and quantitative research informed the choice of a name that was both unique in the field and meaningful to its audience:


Conversations with funders, practitioners and policymakers identified a key differentiator to set the new think tank apart in the field. Dozens of organizations produce research on education, but much of it never leads to changes in public policy and classroom practices.

The new organization could stand out by translating high-quality education research into actionable ideas, grounded in the realities facing policymakers and practitioners. These insights were distilled into a tagline, which clearly conveys that the organization goes beyond research to action, in order to create change in the world:

Research. Action. Impact.

“Our name indicates a distinct perspective in which we place learning at the center of our attention,” wrote President and CEO Linda Darling-Hammond in a piece announcing LPI’s launch.

“We’re not just talking about policy for its own sake, but policy that will promote deeper learning for all children to meet the needs of our society today.”

Consumer Reports: Smarter Choices for a Better World

The newly christened think tank also needed a visual identity with elements that felt familiar enough to “fit” within the space but unique enough to differentiate it from the pack. After analyzing the landscape, we worked closely with the LPI team to develop a new logo, color palette, fonts and other visual elements. We packed all of these elements into a Visual Identity Guidebook, which serves as a comprehensive reference that helps staff across the organization adhere to their memorable and cohesive brand.

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