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In operation since 1979, Thomson Learning–a part of the Thomson Corporate–was a leading provider of highly customized higher-learning solutions for colleges, universities, professors, students, reference centers, government agencies, corporations and professionals around the world. Its products include print and digital textbooks, instructor supplements, online reference databases, distance learning courses, test preparation materials, corporate training courses, career assessment tools, materials for specific academic disciplines, and custom solutions.

In 2007, a private equity consortium purchased Thomson Learning for $7.75 billion. The acquisition required that the company rebrand after being spun off from the Thomson Corporation parent company. Apax Partners, one of the private equity firms behind the acquisition– hired WANT to help create a new brand and an optimized go-to-market strategy for the 20+ existing Thomson Learning sub-brands.


In partnership with another strategic advisory firm, we first conducted interviews and research to determine the positioning for the new brand. Throughout the interviews, we consistently heard about the company’s desire to engage students and be at the center of the educational process, which led to the final positioning ‘Center Of Engagement’. The name that was developed was a direct offshoot of that positioning: Cengage.

Finally, we developed an identity for the new brand, which, again, reinforced the notion of being at the center of engagement, as well as a simple nomenclature system for all the sub-entities of the brand.


Over 12 years after the completion of our project, Cengage still uses the same identity and positioning. The company has continued to expand considerably and is now a major player in the digital space, as well. As of 2019, Cengage commands a 24% market share of the educational publishing market, making it the single largest publisher, with revenues (2017) of $1.4 billion.


  • B2B
  • Brand Strategy
  • Brand Naming
  • Brand Identity

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