NZQA Branding Case Study

Creating a contemporary brand identity to reflect the evolution of NZQA

The role of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, or NZQA, is to ensure that New Zealand qualifications are accepted as credible and robust, nationally and internationally, in order to help learners succeed in their chosen endeavours and to contribute to New Zealand society. 

NZQA is responsible for qualifications spanning across both secondary and tertiary education in New Zealand, and their work impacts many different audiences across the country. NZQA have recently embarked on a new programme of work to improve the experience for their customers. This project highlighted the need to refresh the NZQA brand, to ensure it accurately represents NZQA and their values as an organisation.

“Te Kōkiritanga outlines our commitment to work with education system agencies in achieving equity for ākonga Māori and their whānau. Te Kōkiritanga reaffirms NZQA’s commitment to the Crown’s obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the principles of partnership, protection and participation. Under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Government and education sector agencies have joint responsibility with whānau, hapū, and iwi to ensure the education system delivers with, and for, Māori.”

– From Te Kōkiritanga 2020-2023 (NZQA’s Māori Strategic Action Plan) 

Design partnership

Due to NZQA’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to achieving equitable outcomes for all students we had the opportunity to form a new design partnership between NZQA, Silverstripe and Whakaaro Factory. Whakaaro Factory is an indigenous creative agency led by founder Ani Oriwia-Adds. Ani gifted her design expertise to the project to ensure that the new visual identity for NZQA represented Māori, whilst looking after the culture and taonga.

Project scope

The NZQA brand refresh project set out to not only redesign their logo, but also to produce a flexible brand identity that could be used in many different mediums at many sizes, whilst maintaining its recognisability. The new logo was able to be applied to other products owned by NZQA, creating a brand family. The brand identity was also to include a refreshed colour palette, typography and unique graphics that could be used as a visual representation of each customer group.

Project challenges

The NZQA brand is well known throughout Aotearoa so the new logo had to be recognisable for its customers. We chose to keep the prominent NZQA initials in the logo and also carry over the idea of the unique Q letterform, although a new Q graphic was created. At the same time as creating the new brand identity, Silverstripe and Whakaaro Factory were also working together to produce a new digital style guide for NZQA’s online applications. Elements of the branding were created so that they could be applied on the websites and other digital applications.

Key outcomes

The NZQA brand refresh project set out to not only redesign their logo, but also to produce a flexible brand identity that could be used in many different mediums at many sizes, whilst maintaining its recognisability. The new logo was able to be applied to other products owned by NZQA, creating a brand family. The brand identity was also to include a refreshed colour palette, typography and unique graphics that could be used as a visual representation of each customer group.

Logo

The primary logo for NZQA is composed of large initials followed by the full organisation title below, appearing first in te reo Māori then English below. The koru pattern in the Q is inspired by te orokohanga mai o te whakaaro (the origin of thought). This speaks to the process of how knowledge is acquired, how it is used and how it is passed through the generations and evolves on its journey. The tohu was gifted to NZQA by Whakaaro Factory. 

 

Logo variations were also created for use in different applications to ensure readability of all parts of the logo. The secondary logo was created to be used in applications such as the website header which is short but wide. We also produced a version with the initials only, for use in mobile. And lastly, the Q can be used on its own as a large watermark or a small website icon.

Colour palette

The full NZQA colour palette is inspired by te ao Māori and the natural world. Blue is the primary brand colour and was chosen because it represents water. In te ao Māori and a lot of other indigenous cultures around the world, water holds generations of information and knowledge which is one of the many reasons why it is so precious. The dark blue colour acknowledges the god of the ocean, Tangaroa, and symbolises how the ocean connects us to the rest of the world's many shorelines. It represents a deep ocean; in the context of education, a deeper level of learning. The extended set of colours in the colour palette represents the many NZQA audiences. These colours include yellow, purple, pink, green and red, and each were chosen to represent elements of the natural world.

Kowhaiwhai patterns

Alongside the colour palette, we also produced a series of kowhaiwhai graphics inspired by traditional patterns seen in te ao Māori. Each pattern used in combination with a designated colour represents one of the customer groups. This visual identity is something that is carried through print and web applications to help customers recognise when information is applicable to them. The patterns each hold meaning that were chosen by Whakaaro Factory to align with each audience, which includes learners, secondary school teachers, tertiary providers, Māori, and international students. One final pattern was produced to represent our Pasifika audience by Isoa Kavakimotu, an Aotearoa-born Tongan designer and creative.

Services Provided

  • Workshops

  • Discovery

  • Indigenous Creative & Consultation

  • Branding Design

  • Visual Identity

  • Project Management

To read our complete whakaaro, check out the NZQA branding guidelines.