When we initially asked for contributions to this issue of the IH Journal and explained the theme was ‘Changing Worlds’ to reflect the essence and core values of what it means to be part of the International House World network we realised that it would be open to many different interpretations and give enormous scope for a wide range of articles. Therefore, we are delighted to be able to include a varied and diverse array of excellent contributions which I think it itself not only reflects the diversity within the IH network but also the fact that we are united by these same values. The articles range from a personal account of what it has meant for one teacher to work for IH schools, to how the values are incorporated into the workings of the YL department of another school, to how one school has implemented the new branding project and a practical guide for other schools to follow to name but a few.
I very much hope that you enjoy reading them, along with all the other articles and reviews in this issue.
I am also very happy to have taken over as Editor of the IH Journal and to take advantage of the general ‘changing worlds’ theme at IHWO we will be reviewing the Journal itself and looking into the direction we would like it to take in the future. We would like to include regular columns dedicated to Young Learners, Teacher Development, Exam Classes, Technology and Modern Languages written by experts in these fields. We will also be sending out a survey to all Directors and DoSes to find out their views on the future direction of the Journal.
Elizabeth Arbuthnott, IH Journal Editor
Changing Worlds – Lucy Horsefield, Chief Operating Officer
In autumn 2010 we embarked upon a very exciting mission, to ‘audit’ the IH brand and to undertake a branding project that would result in a new brand identity for the International House World network. In many ways, 12 months on, we are still at the beginning of this journey. We have successfully launched the new visual brand identity for the IH brand, but we know that there is so much more that can be done to raise the profile of our brand and to really communicate effectively what International House means to staff and students alike.
The most important lesson this process has taught us so far is that a brand is SO much more than a logo; and therein lies the challenge! When we first met with our branding agency 12 months ago one of the questions they asked us was “what does it mean to be International House?” As you can imagine, even within our office we realised that we had slightly differing opinions and so we began the rather difficult process of trying to put into words the ‘essence’ of International House. This became especially complex when we started to think of what International House means to a teacher or a school owner and how it is different to what it means for a student. However, most important perhaps was to look ahead and think about what we would like the essence of our brand to mean in the future. What are we striving for?
It would be easy to dismiss the process we are going through as something that only marketing staff and managers would be interested in – sometimes the true value of such an exercise can get lost within the ‘marketing speak’. Therefore it was really important during the brand audit to involve IH people from all areas of our network and schools. We wanted to start a conversation about ‘being IH’ because the values and essence of our brand are just as fundamental to teachers and school administrators as they are to directors and marketers. As part of our brand audit we asked school directors to circulate an ‘IH brand survey’ to all of their staff and, as a result, we received invaluable input from teachers, administrators, DOSes, sales managers and school directors. This input, plus many hours of hard work and discussion, has led us to identify 6 core values for International House and a brand essence for the future, as depicted in the diagram below.
What is most inspiring and wonderful about this diagram (affectionately known as the IH brand onion) is that we know that across our network of 150 schools there are people who live and breathe these values on a daily basis. As I hope you can see from the articles in this journal the values and essence of the IH Brand really mean something. We can’t wait to explore them further in the coming months.