A Senior Art Director’s perspective: Kay on creating Something Different
During the summer of 2023, EF Education First embarked on a journey to create a new employer brand campaign, capturing how a career at EF differs from careers anywhere else. Because of the wide variety of places our teammates live, the opportunities they have, and the people they meet and work with worldwide, careers at EF have a unique energy and vibrancy. We asked our world-class creative team to turn the idea of “something different” into something visual. Many talented creatives came together to make this campaign happen, and Senior Art Director Kay Klos was the obvious choice to lead this creative challenge.
Kay feels deeply connected to EF's mission—opening the world through education—which makes them feel connected to their work. "The mission of EF is very authentic to me—by learning about one another and being open to different perspectives and experiences, we make the world a better place," says Kay. From Kay's perspective, being creative at EF is challenging in all the right ways. “I get the chance to work with many different businesses and people, so I never get bored."
When Kay joined EF's creative team in Zurich, one of their first projects was creating the Something Different campaign, communicating EF's values, culture, and mission in a clear and impactful way. "I had a lot of freedom," Kay notes, "which was very important for me and my creative process to best capture the thought behind the visuals."
EF’s Worldwide Creative Officer Joel Hladecek knew Kay was a great choice for the job, both due to their skills and their ability to evaluate EF’s employer brand without bias. “Aside from Kay’s great natural skills, their newness to EF turned out to be a perfect qualification for this particular project,” Joel said. “It meant Kay was fresh to the idea of evaluating our company and what it would take to capture attention. Additionally, it meant they weren’t beholden to any corporate groupthink. The resulting wildness of this design approach was exactly what we needed to bust through the din of boring brands. EF is the most aspirational brand I know and deserves such strong representation.”
Kay's creative process requires a focused environment and research. "I wish I had a switch that turns on my creative mode, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works," Kay jokes. "I start with research—I want to learn as much as possible about the project, audience, and background. Knowledge is the basis of my approach to design. For this project, I needed to focus on what it is like to work here at EF, and how to translate that feeling visually."
A key stakeholder in the Something Different campaign was Brooke Parker, Director of Marketing and Content. “When we briefed the creative team on this project, our goal was to establish a distinctive visual identity for EF as an employer that reflects continuous learning and career growth,” Brooke said. “We needed a dynamic and global solution to highlight what a career at EF feels like.”
Kay notes that when creating the look and feel for the Something Different campaign, "The key visual itself is very dynamic and colorful because that is EF. Working here is colorful and surprising every step of the way, so the campaign needed to replicate that."
The campaign showcases the variety of people and personalities in our offices and schools, and the individuals in the organization inspired the campaign visuals. "Our jobs can have traditional elements—we have technical and business-focused roles like any other company,” Kay said. “But at EF, we add something different, something creative, bold, and witty to our careers. We have Excel Slayers and Front-end Magicians at EF. These people inspired the idea to adapt the iconic rings of Paul Rand's EF logo to visually represent the different career paths you can have at EF."
Making an employer brand stand out in today's oversaturated market is no easy feat. “Great people can work almost anywhere they choose,” Amy Van Aarle, Executive Vice President of EF, said. “Working at EF is truly special, so to stand out to applicants, we needed a campaign to convey that. A palpable, positive, dynamic energy runs through EF— an energy created by the people who work here and their passion for our mission. This new campaign perfectly captures that feeling and helps us stand out in a crowded employer brand marketplace.”
Creating the Something Different campaign was unlike other projects Kay worked on in the past. "I think this campaign is distinguished by its incredible openness, great dynamism, and unapologetic approach, especially for an employer branding campaign," Kay said. "Usually, campaigns like this can be much more constrained, but we wanted to do–something different!"