New branding for iO Academy has inclusivity at its heart.

1 Dec 2020

iO Academy is on a mission to help to address the gender imbalance in the tech industry, and give people the training they need for a career they’ll love.

We have tackled this head on in 2020, with a rebrand that speaks to our core values of inclusivity and accessibility. Working with Bristol-based creative agency, Fiasco Design, we’ve changed our name from Mayden Academy to iO Academy, and created a brand that reflects our ambitions of creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.

It’s no great secret that there is a representation gap for women in tech. More inclusive career pathways in the technology industry have been the focus of various initiatives in recent years, such as Tech Talent Charter, Code First Girls, and Tech She Can, along with the DCMS Digital Skills Innovation Fund and our own Diversitech Fund.

The statistics are clear:

  • Over a quarter of women students say that they are put off a career in technology as it’s too dominated by men. (PwC)
  • The UK economy would benefit from an extra £2.6 billion each year if the number of women working in tech is increased. (Women in Tech)
  • 83% of millennial British women stated that they actively seek out employers with a strong record on diversity, equality and inclusion. (PwC)
  • Women account for 50% of the UK working age population but only 16% of IT professionals are women. (BCS)

From the very beginning, we knew that we could be a part of making positive change.

In 2015 we were set up by healthtech company Mayden –  not initially as a money-making business, but as a way to solve a problem. Like so many tech companies around the UK, they needed more developers to sustain their own growth.

So a team of developers at Mayden designed a programme that would train people with no coding experience to be industry-ready developers in just 16 weeks. Their direct tech experience led them to build a course with a new approach; one that gave students the up to date and practical skills that were needed most. A course that anyone, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or background, could come out of as the sort of developer that tech companies want to hire.

After five years of Mayden Academy being in business, with more students than ever, multiple awards, and a burgeoning international reputation, it was time to look at ourselves and uncover the ingredients which make us an innovative, purpose-driven brand.

We reached out to Fiasco Design, an agency with a track record in working on inclusivity, at the start of 2020 with a view to repositioning ourselves. The aim was for a fresh, future-proof identity that would appeal to a diverse range of prospective students and break down perceptions about the tech industry.

Fiasco Design and Mayden Academy embarked on a full strategic review of the current branding; assessing our DNA and defining our core values and proposition. Through a number of workshops together (which scraped in before the country went into lockdown), a new brand name was formed; iO Academy.

On the one hand it’s a clear nod to coding language – IO is shorthand for input/output in computer programming. On the other it’s also the name of one of Jupiter’s moons, which seemed a good metaphor for our innovative, future-focussed outlook. We also thought it was a humorous nod to what we do for our students – they come in to learn, and go out with new careers.

Margaret Davidson, our Growth Manager, said: “Fiasco saw right to the heart of who we are as a brand and came up with a visual identity which we would never have thought of ourselves. In particular, what we wanted was to become more attractive and accessible to a wider range of people, with a core focus on diversity and inclusivity. Working as part of a new niche sector within a wider industry that often seems intimidating, this was a challenge. Fiasco came up with an approach where we now feel confident that an underpinning of inspiring inclusivity will be clear in everything we do, and help us to be part of bringing meaningful change.”

Along with the name and proposition comes a new visual expression for the Academy. The visual language developed by Fiasco has been designed to reflect exploration, harnessing imagination and working towards a better future. The graphic shapes give a sense of wayfinding, collecting badges and new skills following a creative pathway. Verbally the tone is positive, ambitious and empowering, and speaks to the curious and willing – the people we consider our students.

Working with Belgium-based illustrator Soren Selleslagh, the team created a suite of illustrations which show aspects of the student journey across the course and into their new careers. The human-centred approach of the illustrations evoke joy and empowerment through positive representation of all types of people.

Ben Steers, Creative Director at Fiasco Design says about the project: “It’s been fantastic to work with the team at iO and help them towards realising their vision of levelling the playing field within the tech industry by creating a fairer, more diverse community of developers.”

source: https://io-academy.uk/mayden-academy-becomes-io-academy/