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Yugo - The birth of a new global student accommodation brand

In 2021, we started working with GSA, one of the world’s biggest players in the international student accommodation market. Established 30 years ago, GSA has a portfolio of $5.2bn student accommodation assets across 65 cities in USA, Asia and Europe.

Our role was to work alongside the GSA team as they embarked on their biggest marketing project in history - the development of Yugo, a new umbrella brand that represented all of the company’s international student accommodation companies. The new brand’s vision is to transform student housing through investment that makes a mark in the world.

To help them bring the new, socially-conscious brand to life, we developed a global comms approach to enable Yugo to connect with the global student network, making it the no. 1 student accommodation brand in the world through support and connection to the student market.

We started by consulting with the team on the rebrand & launch comms strategy and worked alongside multiple teams including the leadership team, the marketing team and the sustainability team to land on a strategy that would help Yugo land loud internally with its teams across the globe.

We consulted on the development of the new company's purpose - bringing its brilliant values and new practices to life through storytelling and content. We supported the brilliant leaders of Yugo, from across multiple markets, in the adoption of Yugo’s new values; rooted in sustainable practice, carbon measurement and plastic reduction.

Once the strategic stage was complete, in September 2021, we launched Yugo to its 600 plus employees, across 9 markets. Our role was to direct and manage the creative comms working in partnership with the Yugo internal marketing team, to generate excitement in and understanding of the new brand. We worked to develop an agency network to launch Yugo across multiple markets in one, unified way. Our creative team brought the new brand identity to life - through digital-first creative direction for digital and social comms as well as Yugo’s important internal comms.

The result of all of this is Yugo, a global student accommodation brand that lives and breathes purpose, on a mission to better the planet, to empower its students, support the student’s holistic needs and provide them with a safe space to do this.

With over 100 student spaces across the US, Ireland, the UK, Spain, Germany and Australia, it is the first global student housing operator in the sector to create a new benchmark for college and university living. We’re proud to have worked to bring Yugo to life, energise everyone around the new brand and now to bring this brand to life across 9 markets.

Following the strategic part of the project - our job was to activate the brand’s major launch. We created ‘Yugostock,’ an online event where we took responsibility for the branding, organisation, content, programming and delivery of Yugostock to staff and students across multiple markets including: UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Japan, China, UAE (Dubai), USA and Australia.

We also developed a Global PR toolkit to be used to streamline communications about Yugo across all markets. The Thinkhouse PR & Advocacy team developed the toolkit which included media Q&A, key message hierarchy, issues management protocol, press release templates, press imagery and other PR tools to ensure we delivered stellar media coverage for Yugo. Thinkhouse worked as lead agency with partner agencies in key markets to deliver a robust and successful global media relations plan. The PR campaign resulted in message-rich coverage and interviews in key media outlets in the UK, Australia, US, Spain, Germany and Ireland.

“I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all your hard work over the last few months – it has been such a pleasure to be on the Yugo journey with The Youth Lab and Thinkhouse and we wouldn’t have launched without all your dedication and creativity.” Abby Bentley, Global Brand & Marketing Director, Yugo

We continue to work in partnership with Yugo to review the effectiveness of the new brand and to manage its global communications in a way that’s true to its purpose to ‘make a mark in the world.’

Yugo is a brand and company that is all about providing spaces where students can live, learn, grow and thrive. As Yugo’s agency partner - we too have been allowed to thrive. It’s exciting to be shaping and forming the kind of brand/company that we believe the world needs right now - a brand that has a pioneering ethos to transform students’ lives.