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CASE STUDY: Instruct needed to overhaul its brand to become a market leader

Instruct is an ambitious, not-for-profit European scientific project, which has the potential to

The old Instruct brand was virtually non-existent

significantly impact our society.

Instruct provides European researchers with access to state-of-the-art technology and the best expertise available, through a network of world-renowned European research centres.

Instruct aims to maintain and develop Europe’s competitive edge over the rest of the world in the key bio-medical science of structural biology by promoting groundbreaking collaboration and pioneering innovation.

No comparable European scientific project has so far managed to deliver pan-European access to technology infrastructure based on scientific merit and delivered through a single online platform.

Instruct wanted to offer something transformational but did not have the experience or resources to achieve it on their own. As programme leaders Fairley & Associates’ role was to help Instruct define their strategy and ensure it became reality within six months.

There was no brand (just the acronym INSTRUCT, a rudimentary logo and a basic website) and no business delivery mechanism.

The task was to create a way for research scientists to apply for access to technology to conduct their research while articulating the purpose to appeal across many different cultures.

The organisation had to secure operational funding from governments and business so budgets would be low once the not-for-profit launched. Fairley & Associates were required to drive specific responses from both funders and scientists.

It had six months to take Instruct from concept to reality: strategy, brand implementation, engagement and marketing. Instruct asked the agency to think big and bold.

Fairley & Associates defined Instruct’s vision as ‘integrated structural biology to help unlock the secrets of life’. The organisation aims to do this by integrating the infrastructure of expertise, state-of-the-art technology platforms and education to further the frontiers of science. The strapline articulates the central importance of integration: ‘integrating biology’.

Interviews and sector analysis identified a big opportunity: to create a digital ‘Instruct Hub’ that would establish Instruct as the heart of structural biology in Europe.

All of Instruct’s activities are coordinated through the Hub; part public, part members only, it is unique, with a breadth of functionality. The Hub, built by Hildebrand, showcases the technology platforms available to researchers, enables their access to conduct research, builds a community that can share ideas, supports distributed content maintenance, and enables and encourages user-generated content. A member’s own homepage is their customised working environment. The monitoring tools allow everyone to see clearly what Instruct is achieving in practical and measureable ways.

The Hub is woven into a comprehensive multi-stakeholder engagement programme that stretches from industry workshops, student conference bursaries and an advertising campaign in Science and Nature, to scientist-to-scientist interview Skype films.

In order to create the new brand Fairley & Associates began by talking to all the key scientists and influencers. A core team was established to provide direction with a wider committee of scientists providing key stage reviews. For the academically driven organisation, marketing-speak, such as vision, values and positioning, had little meaning, but did not they lack ambition.

The agency defined Instruct’s vision as being for integrated structural biology to help unlock the secrets of life. It aims to do this by integrating the infrastructure of expertise, state-of-the-art technology platforms and education to further the frontiers of science.

The name ‘INSTRUCT’ was assigned to secure EU funding. The word fitted the positioning and so was retained, but was made sentence case to make it more friendly and imbibed with meaning to signal the change as the organisation moved to being fully operational.

The visual identity created by Felt Branding captures the spirit of inclusiveness, of how scientists solve problems together. The icon is a wordplay on ‘in’ of integrated and of ‘Instruct’ and is inspired by the structures defined by structural biologists, such as DNA. The graphic device draws from the logo to create a distinctive pattern that helps visually drive momentum and build awareness in every communication. The photography authentically portrays the scientists and their work.

Instruct went live on time and on budget.

The Instruct Hub is a unique model and provides a framework for how pan-European scientific projects can work. The Hub is backed by the necessary people, processes and resources to ensure that it continues to evolve and develop in response to the needs of the community it supports.

Since launch on 1 April 2011:

  • Seven EU countries have subscribed with two more due to sign.
  • Over 500 people have joined as members, representing nearly 200 organisations in 25 countries.
  • Fifteen centres have joined offering 95 technology platforms and their expertise.
  • One hundred and twenty people have created 800 pages of user generated content. 
  • The number of new unique visitors and repeat usage is growing steadily.

“Fairley & Associates have steered us from an initial concept through defining our business processes, building our operational delivery mechanisms, engaging our stakeholder and building our reputation. Their support has ensured our success.”

Prof. Dave Stuart, director, Instruct