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The rebrand.

826 National: The rebrand.

826 National is the largest youth writing organization in the U.S., serving half a million students ages 6 to 18 in under-resourced communities each year with its unique 1:1 mentorship model. 826 came to Barkley to co-create a 5-year strategic vision and rebrand the org to scale digitally and earn large-scale funding.


826 National has an amazing yet layered model. At its core is a 1:1 writing mentorship model. The network includes chapters in 8 cities, with writing centers in the backs of playful storefronts like a pirate supply store in San Francisco or a Time Travel Mart in Los Angeles. The network publishes 200 books a year by youth writers and has a network of nearly 200 dedicated educators and staff. Plus, 826 has a growing digital presence focused on providing resources for educators. With all this activity, we needed to modernize and simplify the brand.

At the center of the challenge is this question: “Who gets to learn to write in this country?” Many students from under-resourced communities don’t have access to a writing education. With writing tied to student outcomes and overall success in life, 826 is dedicated to transforming these lives and giving students a voice.

Modern Consumer Insight

Most education is about following the rules. 

But the best writing education is about beautifully breaking the rules. 

When young people break the rules with 826 on their side, they feel three of the strongest emotions that all writers experience, and all youth writers should feel  - power, brilliance, and joy.


With an unstable red thread of “Sparking the power, brilliance, and joy of writing, we set out to change the 826 identity and design system to unify the chapters. We co-authored a 5-year strategic vision with a goal to “make more spaces writing spaces, more teachers writing teachers, and create more partnerships than ever before. We launched the network with several rebranding artifacts, and a new website was built to be the hub. Lastly, a launch video encapsulated the model with the words and voices of youth writers.

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