Engineering has had a bad reputation for years. Technological professions are associated with grimy working conditions and unfavorable work hours. Nowadays, the labour of technical work isn't recognized as such -the effort that goes into building a gadget simply doesn't register. Worse, the sector is considered inflexible and a career dead-end. Bluntly put, youths consider engineering uncool.
Because of these and a variety of other reasons, it is becoming harder and harder to fulfill the demand for trained personnel in the industry. Bureau Top has been established to help youths to discover their talents for engineering, in order to develop themselves further and finally get introduced to the real world of engineering. To accomplish this, they have two programs:
- Discovery of talent:
Activities aimed at pupils of primary school and students of the first years of secondary school.
- Development of talent:
Activities aimed at students of the later years of secondary school who are considering a study in engineering.
By means of goal-oriented marketing and promotion, Bureau Top does its part in increasing the supply of properly trained engineers. Therefore, their mission statement is: 'Profit for engineering'.
Initially, Us Media was approached to develop a website, but after a inspired and enthusiastic meeting with Bureau Top, the scope of the project made a considerable shift. We would collaborate in the creation of an interactive platform consisting of a new website, 3rd party cooperation, online advertising, magazine and a presence on fairs and events.
Let the target group speak for itself
YouTech is intended to reach youth between the ages of 8 and 16 in all segments of primary and secondary education. This is a peculiar age bracket because the interests from an 8-year old differ wildly from those of a 16-year old. They are more keen to accept opinions and ideas from peers of their own age and have ample experience with social media and online experiences. The traditional top-down approach of one-way communication simply wouldn't do.
Who would be a better judge of the right way to communicate, than the target group itself? That's why we went to Scholengemeenschap de Overlaat in Waalwijk. There we sat down with Twenty-six students with an engineering profile and let them brainstorm about promotion material. They filled out an extensive questionnaire, submitted photos & videos that appealed to them and shared their ideas on how to promote engineering to their peers.
StrategyOne of the most important conclusions was that we should provide the infrastructure -but let the target audience choose and create the content themselves, provide ideas and evolve content by means of peer education.
...let the target audience choose and create the content themselves.
Another important aspect of the strategy was to limit the use of words, while still inciting the target audience to take action. Instead of relying on long-winded stories, stick to short, inspiring texts and focus on video material and eye-catching campaigns.
Finally, the collaboration with other organizations is important. This entails organizations with similar goals as YouTech, as well as organizations which share their target audience.
Part of this was creating a new, cool and fresh logo which would be appropriate for business communication without losing appeal to the target audience. The logo requires, to some degree, a technical insight to be fully appreciated. It is a homage to the mathematically inspired impossible constructions illustrated by M.C. Escher.
The primary color palette represents the key phases that the target audience finds itself in:
- Red represents the youngest of kids: they don't think as much as they impulsively do, based on what they feel.
- Green represents progress: a flying start into the future.
- Blue is the color of rationale and information: kids who choose to have an interest in technology.
While the image is colorful and graphically complex, the typography is quite the opposite: monochrome but playful. Both elements serve as a excellent counterbalance in the logo.
In addition to the logo, YouTech was given a robot mascot as a recurring element in all expressions of YouTech.
The mascot was designed to be accessible and expressive, with a dash of cool added for good measure. The robot's webcam-like eyes can emote a range of moods for different scenarios. The 3D model was given a solid and realistic look and feel with elaborate animation rigging. Care was taken to keep the model visually distinct, yet simple to recreate as a physical model and suits for costumed mascots.
The name for YouTech's mascot was chosen through a vote from the audience themselves: Yougi.
One of the pillars for YouTech is the website. It started out as a Flash-based abstract 3D experience with a comprehensive CMS, but as technologies for web evolved, so did the site. The current version supports a variety of mobile devices as well as "regular" computers and its user-friendly CMS gives 40 YouTech ambassadors the means to add and publish new content as full-fledged web editors.
The YouTech website CMS includes a dedicated campaign generator, which allows Bureau Top to create
themed mini-quizzes, questionnaires and contests without any additional technical help from Us Media.
Another major pillar for YouTech is its quarterly glossy magazine, YouTech Magazine. The magazine contains attractively designed tidbits about technology and engineering and handles cross-promotion of events and campaigns.
With a print run of 40,000, it is the biggest free magazine in the segment of technology for youth. The website and campaigns facilitate registration so children can have it delivered to their home for free.
Perhaps the most diverse element of YouTech is their presence beyond web and print. Together with Bureau Top, Us Media develops a variety of concepts and campaigns to increase traffic to websites -including Youtech.nl, raise awareness and inspire kids to take a keener interest in technology and engineering. This includes contests, workshops, experiments and games, of which we'll highlight a few:
You've been tech'd
This campaign actively approaches children to put adults in the spotlight for their efforts in promoting technology. These people are sent a promotional package from YouTech with the message that they've been Tech'd by YouTech.
Whether this is a person working in a technical field, a teacher or just that one crazy uncle is beside the point -their efforts in making technology accessible to youth is what really matters.
Centered around discovery and experience for kids, YouTech Festival is held in the NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam. The festival offers a broad range of activities, games, workshops and experiments of which the majority are created and devised by kids themselves.
The main attraction is a competition between five teams who share creative technical ideas by means of a workshop. The team with the best idea can win up to 1000 EUR!
Hoe goed ken jij de jeugd
A game aimed at the representatives of companies at fairs and events, the player puts him/herself in the position of trying to figure out whether he knows and understands his target audience as well as he/she thinks.
The multiple-choice questions are answered from the point of view of youth. The higher your score, the more likely you are able to connect with your audience.
Disney XD BMX Arena
Youtech and Disney XD collaborated in the creation of a travelling BMX arena where kids could test their skills on a 100-meter race track. The best lap times were rewarded with prizes, including nine BMX bikes for the fastest laps of the national tour.
Part of a traffic-generator campaign for YouTech.nl, The You GrabIt game is a free-to-play Grabber game where kids can play to win branded gadgets and toys.
In a 3D exploded view of an mechanical object, a player can score points by correctly identifying parts and putting them back to complete the 3D object.
The game was developed in Flash and installed on portable terminals for easy deployment on events.