‘X’ signals a new way of learning

AGSM @ UNSW Business School
Product Brand, Positioning, Visual Language, Campaign website, Print/online/outdoor campaign, Course collateral
Taking the MBA to the next generation by sharing the debates that matter
When Australia’s leading MBA school decided to launch its first online specialist MBA, it needed a distinctive new brand that would signal an innovative leap in flexibility – but within the same high quality, prestigious program structure.

With one little letter, ‘x’, The Garden Agency was able to capture the idea of specialisation and its exponential opportunities for success, coupled with a new generation MBA for a digital economy. We also harnessed the power of thought leadership content to showcase the challenging debates students could expect to be part of. Within two years, the MBAx was ranked #4 in the world by the Financial Times – and its enrolments have exceeded all expectations.
Define an MBA opportunity like no other
A real-time online MBA would allow AGSM to reach a diverse cohort of future leaders who – due to work, travel or family commitments – couldn’t study an MBA the traditional way. By focusing on specialist paths already offered (in change, technology and social impact) it could also position those leaders to meet our greatest challenges with an MBA like no other.

Our brief included coming up with a name that would be innovative, entrepreneurial and enable storytelling, and to create a campaign to form a clear market position, cut-through and engage with current MBT students, and attract a broader audience. We also needed to consider the impact on alumni through changing the name of the MBT program.
A real-time MBA for those ‘in the now’
We uncovered some interesting insights about potential MBA students who wanted flexibility while juggling work and family, and wanted to specialise and be taken seriously. Finding a high-quality MBA that allowed them to study anytime and anywhere was a challenge – but one the AGSM was prepared to address.

The MBAx name defined an idea of difference – of the intersection of business and technology, social impact or change, and of cross-discipline curiosity and exponential growth. We positioned this as a ‘real time’ MBA – one that is here and now. The ‘In the know, in the now’ campaign used a distinctive voice to showcase a breadth of expertise across the three specialisations within a Flipboard magazine app format. toolkit that would describe their point of difference and provide a platform for success.
“The Flipboard app created debate and conversation. It demonstrated the discussions already happening within the MBAx programs – and it had enough cut-through to make people look twice and think about it.”
Nick Wailes, Associate Dean (Digital and Innovation)
One of the world’s top-ranking MBA’s – within 2 years
The MBAx launched in 2014, and enrolments were more than 150% over initial forecasts – it’s now the AGSM’s fastest growing program. It quickly rose to be ranked #4 in the world by the prestigious Financial Times index. Importantly, it allowed the AGSM to attract a new cohort with high potential: the social impact specialisation is now the degree of choice for leaders in that sector. The program’s success has also allowed the other MBA programs to leverage its content and knowledge, with specific courses now available across all modes of study.
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Transforming a physical status symbol into a coveted digital platform
For the AGSM’s MBA students and alumni, the iconic blue binder is a highly visual status symbol, and a marker of the intense work involved in achieving their prestigious qualification. But in 2014, it was time to introduce a useful learning tool for the digital age – one that reflected a new ‘blended learning’ approach and would help students be more productive and flexible in their study. The Garden Agency delivered iPads encased in a blue cover, with new course content embedded as an interactive, tech-enabled experience. While using significantly less paper, it is still seen as a measure of progress, value and differentiation.
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