A brand to increase literacy in Hackney.

The Learning Trust is the not-for-profit company responsible for running all education services for the London Borough of Hackney. The Learning Trust approached marketing agency Mabox (now OneGTM) to create an umbrella brand and a campaign for a borough-wide, three year programme to increase literacy levels throughout Hackney. A highly visible creative brand was needed to give those working in education an opportunity to unite behind one message and bring Hackney’s diverse communities together.

As a graphic designer with the agency at the time, I was tasked with developing the brand identity, website, and subsequent campaign materials for the programme. I originated the Words Unite name, concept and branding.


To improve reading and literacy skills in adults, children and young people in Hackney. To engage and encourage community groups, schools and adult learners to develop projects and activities inspired by and in support of the literacy programme. To engage and develop working partnerships with national organisations and local businesses.

  • 74 schools in Hackney delivered Words Unite projects
  • 16 community groups delivered Words Unite 17 projects
  • 500 Words Unite packs/resources distributed
  • As part of the campaign, over 5000 children from 54 schools took part in the National Literacy Trust’s Reading is Fundamental programme
  • More than 15,000 pupils and adult learners are engaged with reading as a result of the campaign, demonstrated through figures received from libraries, schools and community groups
  • Additional funding secured for 2009/2010 (£500,000)
  • Media coverage: 999k OTS
  • 10,000 copies of community-made book distributed across the borough
  • Website: 33,330 unique visitors between October 2007 and June 2008
  • Increased library membership and participation: Nearly 1,000 children and 148 adults engaged in Hackney libraries
  • National Year of Reading declared Hackney as example of Best Practise
  • Support secured from 30 famous children’s poet, authors and illustrators including award winning children’s writers Alan Gibbons, Catherine Johnson and Geraldine McCaughrean

Art Direction
Marketing materials
Web design

Building the Brand

A highly engaging concept was needed to give participants an opportunity to unite behind one message, and bring Hackney’s diverse communities together. The brand and campaign would speak to these diverse communities, while appealing to people across demo & pyschographics.

I began from the strategic standpoint of developing a universal idea from research on reading habits. The research pointed to markedly improved literacy when the act of reading was a shared experience.

An idea was needed that transcended this idea and touched on the communities the campaign was speaking to. I then devised the concept Words Unite, an ideal of literacy across individuals, family and community.

Inspired by the the environment of Hackey (where I grew up), I designed the Words Unite logo to feel ‘urban’, contemporary and accessible. We felt it should feel comfortable sitting alongside a corporate logo, but also something like Nike.

I developed a full set of brand guidelines, and the creative team at the agency evolved the campaign style. A typographical-style poster campaign was lead by the agency Creative Direction, expanding on my original concept.

I artworked the posters, and some of the marketing materials, and art directed other elements. I designed the website, and then liaised with the web developer on the build.

Hackney Words Unite