ETS: Graduating From Arrogant to Relevant, Globally

“We make tests. People hate tests. We’re not a likable brand.”

“Test-takers HAVE to take our tests, they don’t choose to. We don’t need to ‘sell’ them on our tests.” These are statements I heard when I arrived at ETS. How could we expect our audience to emotionally connect with the ETS brand if we ourselves couldn’t connect?

Assuring qualified teachers are in our schools. Proving you have the ability to attend the college of your choice—regardless of social stature. Knowing your programs are effective, and that your students are learning what you’re teaching. Demonstrating you have the skills to apply for your dream job. It’s not about making tests—it’s about connecting our audience and their skills with life-shaping opportunity.

These concepts are extremely personal—they’re the essence of our hopes and dreams for the future. I recognized that these were the universal drivers that would make or break an emotional connection with the ETS global brand. This connection was the inspiration I used to focus the efforts of my team in creating the award-winning work we did that transformed the ETS brand from arrogant to relevant. Our work helped change the mindset of our audience and our organization.

In addition to the messaging we created, ETS made fundamental changes to be true to its brand promise. Forming an Office of Quality to assure the highest standards were met in developing and delivering our tests. Providing not only a score result, but actionable feedback to help guide personal development. Enhancing user experience when registering for a test online. Improving customer service when contacting the call center. These efforts enabled ETS to deliver on its brand promise and mission through a relevant brand image—and a truer brand experience.