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Designing our digital future: Marcus’ EF journey

Designing our digital future: Marcus’ EF journey

“My job is to make people fall in love with us the second they meet us online,” declares Marcus, EF Education First’s Executive Creative Director. For this world traveler and former student of philosophy, cognitive science, and AI, the roadmap to transforming EF into one of the world’s top brands is clear. And it starts with humanizing our digital presence.

“We should be clear in all of our brand’s digital interactions,” explains Marcus, a digital agency veteran, who brings both left-brained logic and right-brained creativity to his work. “As the world’s largest provider of international education, we need to show that we’re always here for you and with you.”

Growing up in the coastal village of Helsingborg, Sweden, Marcus knew EF as a company with a big presence in his home country. However, it wasn’t until after stints of living in Spain and Austria, when he was working for a Stockholm-based experience design agency hired by EF, that he understood the company’s global impact and brand potential.

“I was really quite impressed,” Marcus recalls of his first meeting with EF’s creative team in London. “I walked away with a different picture of EF. The company had the drive to become a powerful and well-known brand—a brand on the same level as Apple or Nike.”

Years later, Marcus was recruited to spearhead the digital division of EF’s central creative team in Lucerne, Switzerland. He accepted the challenge, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I’m heading up a design team on a mission to help EF’s business divisions figure out how to maximize the impact of every digital touch point,” says Marcus, who has spent the majority of his career designing products and experiences, ranging from websites and apps to games and virtual reality simulations. “Our brand should feel modern, relevant, and aspirational—no matter where customers meet us in their digital journeys.”

Alongside his team of visual and user experience designers and front-end and back-end developers, Marcus is finding new ways to shape EF’s digital future. He’s working with teams around the world to create tools that help students learn, make travelers feel at ease, and inspire people to engage with the EF brand.

“Every day at EF, we’re sending digital natives abroad. Our product offerings are largely for young people, and they expect a high level of digital interaction,” says Marcus. “Traditionally, we’ve been focused offline. That’s the heritage of our brand. Now we’re working to establish our future.”

Recent projects have ranged from a global EF design guide to character development for a digital learning platform in China to an online portal tailored to students in Finland. But no matter what product team he’s working with or what problem he’s trying to solve, Marcus approaches each project with EF’s core values in mind.

“We move people closer together and farther away from their comfort zones,” he says of the brand essence that ties together EF’s 17 divisions, which span cultural exchange, travel and language learning. “We’re empowering people to get outside of what they know, whether it’s in terms of language, culture, or place. This requires bravery. We’re asking a lot of them, but they’re getting a lot back.”

Marcus’ vision for EF’s digital brand rests on a foundation of human-focused design. According to him, all of our digital experiences should diminish confusion and establish trust. For Marcus, building trust is especially key. Our products ask customers to take big risks. We aim to make every customer feel supported along the way.

“We should always be human-centric,” says Marcus, who’s looking forward to exploring ways technology can help EF staffers become more connected to our customers. Starting from here, Marcus sees boundless potential, not only for technological innovation but also for telling authentic stories.

“The whole world is our canvas,” he says. “At the end of the day, we’re all helping people create stories and break down barriers. We’re about global ideas. That’s the future. And I can’t see any other future possible.”