The Journey to Smartprep
Words by James Langer (Founder & CEO of SmartPrep)
Over the past 5 years, we have experienced immense amounts of growth and transformation, and this has caused our brand to transform with us along the way. The best way to understand this is through a short summary of where we started and our journey to where we are today.
In 2014, I began hosting workshops to help students get through their UCT Economics tests and exams, so I decided to use the super creative brand ‘JL Tutoring’ – derived from my name James Langer. ‘JL Tutoring’ served well for a number of years, since it had a personal touch that conveyed that ‘JL’ would help you succeed in Economics! In the following years, a couple of other tutors got on board, but since the Economics workshops were still the most popular and JL Tutoring was well-known, it didn’t make sense to rebrand just yet.
Fast forward 3 years to 2017. The JL Tutoring team comprised of 5 workshop instructors offering workshops for 6 courses per semester and over 30 private tutors available to assist with over 40 courses. With so many other talented tutors involved now, the ‘JL Tutoring’ brand didn’t seem right anymore – it was no longer just ‘JL’ that was helping students succeed!
Around the same period, we partnered with FastAcademy, with the plan to roll out a blended learning approach to private test and exam prep, utilizing our in-person tuition services combined with FastAcademy’s online learning products. Given what seemed to be a bright future for our partnership with FastAcademy and an existing desire to rebrand the business, we adopted the brand ‘FastPrep’, falling under the ‘Fast’ brand umbrella of FastAcademy as the go-to for blended learning prep for university and matric exam preparation.
2018 was a fantastic year operating under the FastPrep brand – we more than doubled the number of workshops for UCT students, grew our private tutoring team, expanded to Stellenbosch and tried out our first Matric Exam Prep Workshops. Through all of this, we learned a lot of lessons, many of which led to our decision to re-brand one last time.
From a branding perspective, although the ‘Fast’ part of the brand was supposed to emphasize our straight-to-the-point and efficient tuition methods, in reality many students incorrectly interpreted this to mean that we rush through material. From a business perspective, we learned that things don’t always work out as planned, as this was the case with our partnership with FastAcademy. While both companies gained a lot from the partnership, unexpected problems arose, which led to a a mutual decision with FastAcademy at the end of 2018 to end the partnership.
Given this immense change, it was obvious that our brand needed to transform one last time. It took a lot of time and a lot of thinking, but we’re pretty sure this brand is the one! And so with the new year here, we introduce you to: SmartPrep. This is a brand that paints a true and complete picture of what we do. Our services are ‘Smart’, since we deliver knowledge to students in an efficient and pedagogically sound fashion, and our goal is always to ‘Prep’ students with the understanding, tools and techniques required to succeed in their tests and exams.
What do you think about our new brand? The layout, the colours? Contact us and give us your thoughts!