MasterClass unveils refreshed branding

The platform enlisted independent agency Gretel to launch new branding that balances the starpower of its instructors’ brands with its own.

MasterClass, the streaming platform for classes taught by celebrities and star CEOs, introduced a refreshed brand identity on Thursday. 

The update includes a new logo treatment, a brand architecture system that balances the platform’s instructors’ brands with its own, a new course preview system and a sizzle reel that brings it all together on its website. The company worked with New York-based creative agency Gretel on the project. 

“We really thought it was time to contemporize the brand, bring it more into pop culture and make it more vibrant,” said Chris Brown, executive creative director at MasterClass. “We realized it was time for us to have more of a point of view and stand alongside our instructors rather than receding into the background.”

Masterclass instructors have some heavyweight personal brands. Gordon Ramsey teaches cooking, Anna Wintour shares insights on fashion publishing, Serena Williams divulges tennis tips and Howard Schultz lectures on leadership.

The previous logo was architectural. Horizontal lines climbed up and down a bold M with a film light feature at its base. The new logo has more of a retro feel, with a chunky, modular ‘M” that has elements of the letter separating and reforming.

“It’s a classic letter shape that has been deconstructed and your mind has to put the pieces together,” said Brown. “This feeling requires critical thinking, and critical thinking is related to education.”

To incorporate MasterClass instructors’ starpower, all 90-plus will receive personal co-brands on the site as part of the brand refresh. Each instructor will receive a unique nameplate and color scheme that will live on their class pages and in marketing materials, but still connect with the MasterClass brand. A landing page for an author’s masterclass, for example, might be picked up on book-jacket designs.  

“That allows us to create identities that are unique to them, but they are a part of a collective whole,” said Brown. “Rather than just being a house of brands, we are little more of a branded house with a consistent throughline.”

Gretel also designed a filmstrip device to help people preview classes more easily. They feature hero images of instructors teaching classes which convert to video snippets as consumers tap the frames.

Performance marketing across digital and social is a key tactic for the brand as MasterClass seeks like-minded consumers for its mostly lifestyle-oriented classes.

Interest in online learning is booming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Services such as Udemy, Coursera and MarketingProfs are proliferating as a way to brush up workplace skills. Udemy announced in late April that enrollment increased by 425% in its online courses since the pandemic.

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