A new story for writers everywhere

Writing is a superpower. Getting better with words can make you more effective at work, scratch a creative itch or help to untangle thoughts. But for too long it’s been seen as off-limits: an indulgence for a select few.

In 2012 PWA set out to change this. Spurred on by their belief that writing is a life-changing life skill, they launched a digital learning platform to make world-class writing expertise accessible and flexible. And crucially to make sure that it was wrapped up in a community that supported and pushed each other to do great things.

Ten years and over 8000 course graduates later, it was over to us for a brand refresh that would make the power of writing open to anyone serious about trying it. Which all started with a rallying cry…

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Making words visual

Old-world academia cues have kept writing in the dark ages. Forget clip-art quills and fountain pens, what does the process look like today?

We designed our own version of an ellipsis to represent everything Professional Writing Academy is about: possibility and constant words in progress’. It’s an ever-changing device that holds the range of people, ideas, and imagery that’s at play across their courses and gets to the core of what writing’s all about: getting the stuff in our heads onto the page. 

Writing about writers

But how do you write for people who do it everyday? We helped PWA focus their talents inwards for once, finding the hooks to get people to the long prose.

We wrote a tone of voice that was unpretentious with a bit of an edge (just like the founders!). It’s about being super accessible, but with enough quiet authority to steer people through the process.

We also focussed on the benefits of writing; using less conventional (but equally valid) motives for taking the courses.

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To get fresh new writers on board, we needed to showcase all the stuff you can master with PWA. Yes, you can finish your novel, but there are courses for gaming scripts, business writing, even wellness sessions to wind down. Writing is an essential tool for life.

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Swapping intel

Alongside industry experts, PWA give you a network of peers to share ideas with. So we designed ways to get both alumni and students more visible. Our tagging system lets writers share info about them, their project, and any life experience they’ve got that might sharpen someone else’s story. You worked in a prison once? Could come in handy to someone writing a novel about Wormwood Scrubs.

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Professional writing toolkit

We wrapped it all up in a toolkit with everything PWA needed to relaunch their brand. There’s a motley crew of typefaces to speak in different voices, a set of icons inspired by proofreader’s marks, and an image library inspired by settings and stories. Working with PWA, we joined forces with artists Marcus Oakley and Pickled to create an illustration library. The team at PWA now have all the elements they need to take their courses to the masses.

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That Thing’s focus on marrying words and visual identity, together with an obvious empathy with what we were trying to achieve meant that it was an extremely fast process to agree on a new look, feel and tone of voice. After a very short time working working together we genuinely felt that they knew us better than we knew ourselves! The new brand has given us increased confidence to approach a new calibre of potential clients who we might have felt a bit shy of previously.”

— Christina Bunce, Founder

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