Simon Lebus blogs on our new brand, which launched this week. He says it will provide a powerful and compelling vehicle for our work over the next 10 years.
We announced this week the launch of the new Cambridge Assessment brand. The main thrust of this is to establish a much clearer visual identity linking Cambridge Assessment and the University and also to provide a more explicit vehicle for use by our individual exam boards where they are engaged with customers who have an interest in services that we can provide that span the Group – for example, an international school that wanted to take Cambridge International Examinations’ IGCSEs and A Levels, but which was also interested in some of Cambridge English’s English language qualifications and/or some of OCR’s vocational qualifications.
All this is a long way from when the Cambridge Assessment brand was first launched 11 years ago. Prior to that, the Group had mainly used its formal name of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (generally shortened to UCLES). However, there had been less and less use of that name following a major reorganisation in the late 1990s that led to the creation of the individual exam boards, each with strong brand identities of their own: OCR, CIE and, as it then was, Cambridge EFL.
As the Group grew, especially internationally, it became clear that UCLES was useful more as a designation than as a brand and in particular that it seemed strange to have a name that included the word ‘local’ as we expanded our international reach. It was also clear that some of our interlocutors were unfamiliar with the concept of a syndicate (at least in its Cambridge usage – in a non-Cambridge usage it was more familiarly used to designate either a trade union or a crime or gambling group!). The other major challenge was that we had no suitable vehicle for promoting our thought-leading research on assessment, curriculum and other related matters. This was particularly important after the controversy surrounding the introduction of Curriculum 2000 in 2002 which placed exam boards and their practices under a high degree of public and political scrutiny. A feature of this scrutiny (and it remains problematic) was the high degree of ignorance that it revealed of how exam standards are determined and more generally of how high stakes public exams are conducted. We wanted to make a serious contribution to that debate and using Cambridge Assessment as a vehicle to publicise our research meant that we were not perceived as being an interested party in the way that we might have been had we used one of the individual board brands.
Eleven years on, this remains a major challenge, though in many other respects the shape of the organisation has changed, not least because approximately 75 per cent of our revenue is now derived from our overseas markets, a precise reversal of the situation 10 years ago when three quarters of our income came from the UK. The link with the University, which the new brand makes so explicit, is very important to our international customers and also emphasises our ability to draw on the strengths and expertise to be found in the wider University family, good examples being the work we do with Cambridge University Press, the Faculty of Education and the Departments of Computational and Applied Linguistics. It also emphasises the fact that we are the only major awarding body that is still owned by a university and links our mission with the University’s own quest to maximise societal impact through the promotion of educational excellence and world class research. As such, the new brand should prove a powerful and compelling vehicle for our endeavours over the next 10 years.
Group Chief Executive, Cambridge Assessment