Two social entrepreneurs, Tom Fogden and Mark Smith, discovered that 147,000 jobs in the digital industry in the UK go unfilled each year. They immediately saw a place for a specialist college focused on building digital skills. Offering a specialised educational environment, they felt they could drive social mobility by opening up access to an industry that is a true meritocracy. To establish the new college, Tom and Mark needed and strong brand.

The new National College of Digital Skills (NCDS) approached Calling to develop a strategy and identity that would make it stand out from other Further Education and Sixth Form colleges, through a unique combination of academic rigour and modernity.

NCDS faced two challenges. First, to recruit a good mix of students - it’s essential as ultimately they are judged by the results they and their students achieve. Secondly, they wanted to address the decline in young women entering the industry which had dropped to 7% per annum.


The founders were determined that the college should not be seen as teaching coding and digital skills as an end in itself. They wanted to ensure students learnt the vital collaborative, creative, problem solving and critical thinking skills that, combined with coding, would let them do amazing things. They also wanted to communicate the idea of community. Given its specialist nature, the college needed to attract students from a much wider catchment area.

At the heart of our thinking was the idea of Tomorrow’s Pioneers, which captured the college’s rigour, creativity and ambition. Thinking, Creating, and Developing underpinned this, giving it stand out from the platitudes often seen in the sector. From here we developed a manifesto, a visual and verbal identity that reflected and evoked these three ideas.


Calling all digital-thinkers, culture-hackers, change-makers and code-crackers. The creative. The curious. The hungry to learn. This is your time to step up and stand out.

We believe in the power of collaboration. The potent mix of different ideas. In joining together to navigate the digital landscape, harnessing the collective spirit and co-creating routes to success. Because when minds meet, magic happens.

We believe in future-proofing the next generation. Opening portals to digital industry. Always sharing. Never dictating. A hive of enterprising minds rooted in reality. Forget theory, this is hands-on.

We are the catalyst for transformation. Agile and adaptive. Active and empowering. A space to share cutting-edge knowledge and get real-world ready. To cultivate a network of infinite potential and unlock the talent of tomorrow’s pioneers...

We are Ada.
Together we create the future.


From the Tomorrow’s Pioneer idea, we took the client through a naming process. We settled on Ada as it evoked the pioneering spirit of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, who also happened to be a woman. At the same time, it offered a challenging, fresh-sounding name for the education sector.

The modular visual identity was created to allow for personalisation and creative input from students (e.g. on their security passes) that reflected the brand idea. The verbal identity had to be very flexible, given the college needed to address many different audiences, from students to parents and the digital industry. We also looked at messaging framework to address these groups. Feedback from prospective pupils was used to further craft the identity and messaging.

“The team at Calling worked closely with us, providing the right mix of challenge and understanding to get to a powerful solution. As with any start up, things can get hectic and the team were very patient with us. At the same time, they managed to meet extremely tight deadlines. We are really proud of the brand and it has given us a standout identity that is both confident modern and worthy of the college we have created."

Tom Fogden and Mark Smith, Founders