Creative Agency – Headless Hippies

Beyond creating future leaders: Learning to operate like school of fish

The challenge: Designing a compelling brand narrative and unifying Ashoka Changemaker Schools’ global identity. 

The outcome: A fresh take to defining leadership. Learning from a school of fish. A holistic storyline unifying Ashoka Changemaker Schools from across the world.

The client: Ashoka Changemakers (Global)

Ashoka is an international organisation that promotes social entrepreneurship. Through Changemakers it aims to build a global movement where anyone, anywhere can take action to solve a social problem in the community. Ashoka, a pioneer in the field of social entrepreneurship, was Founded in 1980 and it works with social entrepreneurs or individuals with innovative solutions to the society’s most pressing problems. One of Ashoka’s many programs is Ashoka Changemaker Schools, an endeavour to enable all students to become changemakers. In these changemaker schools (across the world), students are taught the essential skills of empathy, creativity, leadership and teamwork so that they can find solutions to the most complex of societal problems. Ashoka Changemaker Schools are identified and selected through a meticulous process and through the years Ashoka has fostered more than 1,300 Ashoka Fellows globally and supported more than 375,000 young people who are practising changemaking in 50 countries. 


One of the key challenges through this journey was creating and maintaining a unique identity for the various schools that are a part of Ashoka’s Changemaker program. Each of these schools had their own brand and when they came under the umbrella of changemakers, integrating and identifying them as part of the Ashoka umbrella, while imperative, became a challenge. Further, each country where this program ran, had their own interpretation of the larger brand and created their own version of the Changemakers logo and collateral, which was a huge impediment for the larger cause and brand of Ashoka. It was then that the team of Ashoka Changemaker Schools in India, reached out to  Headless Hippies, a creative agency that helps brands make friends with people. 

While the challenge posed to Headless Hippies was of unification of the brand identity for Ashoka Schools in India, what followed was a unique take on leadership/ being a changemaker, a global identity adopted by Latin America, India, USA and other schools and some revelations for the leadership team at Ashoka itself.

The Idea:

While the foundation of Ashoka’s Changemaker program is to foster multiple leaders, in reality, we are used to centralisation of power. Therefore, the path towards finding inspiration was not linear. Multiple facets of leadership had to be researched and keywords that exemplify ‘multiple leadership’ started emerging – aspects like alignment, trust and ecosystem came up. The team had to research further to find that one ‘unifying’ factor. 

The answer finally came from a concept called Biomimicry (innovation inspired by nature). More specifically from a school of fish. Fish (big or small) are coordinated in action and unified by purpose. They follow inbuilt methods of communication and fend for each other as a whole, never as a single individual. Success to them is a group effort and Headless Hippies started looking at a school of fish as a metaphor to ‘changemakers’. The idea finally boiled down to, ‘transform education, like a school of fish.’ 


The outcome:

Going back to the survey and its responses – from what was a single line in the minds of the Ashoka Changemakers team, ‘Changemakers is a network of schools’ to ‘if you want to be a Changemaker, you have to operate like a school of fish’, the narrative was transformed, in synch and a single identity was created, globally. 

This identity was used across Ashoka Changemaker schools in India, Europe, XX

Need examples of how the identity was used. 

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