Innovation Spike

Case Film

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CategoryA02. Applied Innovation


Name Company Position
Jon Burden Naked Communications Executive Creative Director
Marcus Key Naked Communications Design Director
Adam Grant Naked Communications Senior Copywriter
Damian Sloan Naked Communications Senior Art Director
Melinda Cole Naked Communications Senior Designer
Gabriel Mangulabnan Naked Communications Finished Artist
Tim Kirby Naked Communications Managing Director
Brett Rolfe Naked Communications Chief Strategy Officer
Ari Sztal Naked Communications Group Account Director
Claire Cocks Naked Communications Production & Workflow Manager
Jess Glass Naked Communications Account Director
Blake Dawson Naked Communications Senior Account Executive
Melanie King Naked Communications PR Lead
Anthony Hatton Naked Communications Creative Director
James Bristow Bantam Editor
Al Moore Bantam Animator
AJ Scarcella Scarcella AJ Scarcella Animator
Shelley Brady RMIT University Associate Director - External Communications
Amelia Harris RMIT University Senior Advisor - External Communications – RMIT University

Why is this work relevant for Innovation?

This project is the story of an advertising brief that led to an academic research project, that led to the launch of a world-first product. Sans Forgetica is the world’s first typeface specifically designed and proven to help you remember more. The ultimate study hack; created for high school students studying for their university entrance exams. The perfect way for a university to demonstrate their credentials in technology, design and innovation.


Every October, RMIT University and forty-two other Australian universities compete for the attention of teenagers studying for their final high school exams. RMIT is a university grounded in technology, design and innovation. Based in Melbourne, but with a global footprint of extended campuses, RMIT needed to reinforce its brand credentials as a cutting-edge university to an increasingly globally-minded audience of prospective students. But with seemingly little differentiation between university offerings, how could RMIT stay top-of-mind and reinforce the reasons to study there? Our task was to develop a campaign that would reach school leavers at the very time they were making the decisions about their choice of university – during the revision window before their final year exams. Our solution would be judged both on brand metrics (reach of branded communications) and engagement metrics (brand interactions and lead generation). Our budget was $130,000AUD including media.

Describe the idea

Rather than using traditional advertising which distracts students from their study, we found a way to actually help them. We created Sans Forgetica: the world’s first typeface specifically designed and proven to help you remember more. While investigating ideas for study hacks, we discovered previous research into the concept of cognitive disfluency: the principle whereby creating small obstructions to learning results in deeper cognitive processing, and subsequently better memory traces are created. This provided the inspiration for our idea. We brought together RMIT academics from the fields of design and psychology to work with the agency to design, refine and test the font; then gave it away to students studying for their exams as a download or Chrome browser extension. The ultimate study hack delivered just when students needed it.

What were the key dates in the development process?

The concept for Sans Forgetica was developed by the agency in 2017, but the process of engaging all necessary partners within the university to take the project on meant that it was 2018 by the time the project got the green light. As a piece of product innovation that was the result of a communications brief, the timings were led by the communications requirements. We needed to be in market during the month of October to launch during the key revision window before final year high school students took their exams. The timeline for the development of the font itself, and for the development of all communications assets, therefore worked back from 1st October 2018. Due to the unique nature of the project, communications assets were developed concurrently with the product development process. The entire project proceeded through full development on the proviso that if the final font could not be proven to help people remember more, the project would be scrapped. RMIT of course could not risk their academic integrity, but it certainly added to the frayed nerves as the research study results were being analysed... The timings below indicate the key steps in the development of the font itself (all dates 2018): w/c 03 June: Confirm project team (agency & RMIT marketing and academic colleges) w/c 10 June - w/c 24 June: Collaboration of core team (agency, RMIT school of design, RMIT Behavioural Business Lab) to commence development of font design options w/c 17 June: Design experiments w/c 24 June: Ethics application w/c 1 July: Finalisation of test fonts (three test fonts and control) w/c 15 July – w/c 29 July: Running studies (experiment 1) w/c 05 August: Research analysis and short report w/c 12 August: Design follow up studies w/c 19 August – w/c 02 September: Running studies (experiment 2) w/c 09 Sept: Research analysis and short report w/c 16 Sept: Development of Sans Forgetica Glyph Set w/c 23 Sept: Output Sans Forgetica Master Files (OTF + TTF + WOFF + WOFF2) w/c 23 Sept: Upload to website, apply to Chrome extension, testing and refinement 3rd October: Launch

Describe the innovation/technology

The font works using principles of psychology, fused with type design, to create a condition known as ‘desirable difficulty’. A desirable difficulty is an obstruction to a learning process that requires a considerable but desirable amount of effort, therefore improving (in Sans Forgetica’s case) retention and recall of information. Unlike more conventional fonts, Sans Forgetica’s visual distinctiveness causes readers to dwell longer on each word, giving the brain more time to engage in deeper cognitive processing, thus enhancing retention of that information. Multiple typefaces with varying degrees of ‘distinctiveness’ built in were put through rigorous laboratory and online testing with 400 students to discover the most desirable level of difficulty. The winning font, which became Sans Forgetica, delivered a 7% improvement in text remembered over a control font, which represents a significant improvement for anyone looking to remember more. It is available as a free download for Mac or PC, as well as a Chrome browser extension. See document in media uploads summarising the experimental design.

Describe the expectations/outcome

Sans Forgetica delivered a truly memorable result: Brand reach: • 700 million earned media impressions • $7 million earned media value • 27 million social impressions Brand engagement: • 250,000 font downloads (1,111% of target) • 36,000 Chrome extension users (480% of target) Direct response: • 87,088 leads generated (1,935% of target) • Cost per lead $1.49 (benchmark CPL $58.50) The future, however, is more exciting still. From an academic perspective RMIT are in discussions with academics in several other countries who are eager to study potential clinical applications of Sans Forgetica (such as the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dyslexia). From a communications perspective the team are now studying whether the principles applied to Sans Forgetica could be adapted to languages with different alphabets such as Mandarin, which is of huge value given the size of the Chinese international student market.

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