MIT: Building Brand Architecture for a New Era in Education

Case Study
June 26, 2023


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – a brand synonymous with innovation – is a pioneer in online learning.

Its Open Learning division built tools and developed models that MIT and other institutions and corporations could use to deliver education anytime, anywhere. It makes some of the finest education available affordably — or even free — to learners across the globe.

As Open Learning and competitive alternatives grew, the organization's leaders identified the need to clarify its story, reinforce its leadership position, and develop a logical architecture for an emerging portfolio of brands.


MIT Open Learning enlisted Brand Federation to crystalize its market position and messages to educators, donors, institutions and students.

Brand Federation’s research team conducted comprehensive quantitative, qualitative and secondary research to understand Open Learning's market opportunity and its students, the trends influencing them, their education needs, and their perceptions of MIT and Open Learning's capabilities.

Careful analysis of the research and close collaboration with MIT leaders led to brand positioning that met the market's needs, consolidated the institution’s online learning offerings under a single brand architecture and clarified MIT’s messaging. A powerful purpose statement summed up Open Learning's position: Advancing all of humanity through the radical redefinition of possibility.


The research-driven brand and the messaging it supported straightened MIT Open Learning's path forward, one that continues improving lives and changing the world through increased access to education.


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