Table of Contents
  • Parents' barriers and drivers
  • Children's barriers and drivers
  • Product and brand insights
  • Key message
  • Brand character
  • Brand values
  • Reasons to believe
  • Online channels
  • Offline channels
For those who prefer video format instead of reading, I created a short 13 minutes video. For those who want to dive deeper into this case study, I welcome reading a longread in the following chapter.
Since childhood, I have dreamed of changing this world, of making it a better place. I believed and still believe that things should not be as they are. As children, each of us was able to imagine and dream. Nowadays, creativity is considered one of the essential skills in solving unconventional business problems. But for a child, creativity is an ordinary everyday activity. The education system in Russia is based on the USSR system, where it was unacceptable and even dangerous to be different. This is why, since kindergarten, the task of educators has been to shape different personalities into one. This is very convenient for a totalitarian system.
All my childhood and youth, I resisted this system. It was difficult, sometimes unbearable. I saw all the flaws of this system, but there was nothing I could do. At that time, I had no instruments of influence other than protest. But the idea that the education system is highly destructive and ineffective still torments me. This is a vital topic because it also depends on me what kind of environment my children will be educated in. That is why I was delighted when the branding professional Vladimir Trinos invited me and my colleague and friend Eugenia Lazareva to the project of developing the brand of the "Playful Learning" center for children.
One of Vladimir's clients, Elena, decided to create a socially significant project in Kazan City. Elena was inspired by KidZania, the model which has proved its viability thanks to its success worldwide.

Kidzania is a children's city of professions, where children can play grown-up and learn new skills by "learning by playing." Such an entertainment and educational center is a city consisting of different "stations": a fire station, a police station, a post office, and many others.

At these stations, children take various masterclasses and do practical work for the city. In return, they get toy money, which they can invest in training or spend on toys at the local store.
There was no point in buying a franchise because KidZania's business model was designed for large metropolitan areas, and Kazan's population at the time was 1,200,000 people. The KidZania franchise would not have paid off, so Elena decided to make her brand. She formulated a request:
We started our work with a competitive analysis. We analyzed big international companies, Russian brands, and local companies from Kazan. We identified two territories of positioning on which competitors were based their brands.
We realized that all direct KidZania's competitors are just copies of it, and both business models and communication were almost identical. This was a perfect sign because differentiating positioning allowed us to dissociate from our competitors.
After analyzing the competitors, we moved on to CX research. The first thing we did was visit our competitors' interactive cities in Moscow several times. We observed the behavior of parents and their children, studied the behavior of the staff, and determined the main points of interaction between brands and consumers. As a result of observation, we understood that the set of scenarios and masterclasses in all centers are minimal, and the child gets bored after a while. The situation was complicated by the fact that to acquire skills in the most exciting professions for children (airplane pilot, driver, others), it was necessary to earn money by working in less exciting jobs. Moreover, children did not understand what to do with their money.
They could be exchanged for some gifts, but for some reason, children lose their motivation too fast. This was the first puzzle we had to solve. After talking to parents and children, we learned that such a system does not encourage parents and their children to visit such centers repeatedly. Yes, it was more interesting than school. But for some reason, the kids were still losing interest. By interviewing two target audiences, parents and children, we planned to find the answer to this problem. During the empathic audience interviewing phase, we needed to find out the barriers and drivers of the target audience. We selected two audience segments for the study.
Our main product insight was that children are completely uninspired by the monetary incentive system. We found that the primary value for children in playful learning format centers is getting experiences. During our interviews, we also found a central brand insight.
In all centers, such as KidZania, this adult way of life and solving problems is imposed on children. We realized that children's spontaneity and purity already contain value and potential. Often children offer non-trivial solutions to adult problems, and this insight inspired us to formulate the big brand idea.
So, we realized that none of our competitors consider that children can observe and create their world, not play by adults' rules.

KidZania probably built its strategy on the following insight: "Children act like grown-ups in everything and want to be like them. The implementation of this strategy is that KidZania immerses children in a game with adult rules, including an adult money system.

We decided that it was necessary to build the positioning and business model on the fact that children see the flaws of the adult world and want to change it rather than live by the established rules.
We also wrote down the essential points, the implementation of which was necessary for the strategy. As a result of playing at the center, children learn about adult life and change it according to their own rules. We don't change a child to suit the world. We teach the child to change the world because thinking without restrictions is the main engine of progress.
We have proposed changes to the business model by the results of the CX study.

1. Change children's motivation. Avoid the money system to motivate children, but keep the "Bank" station for teaching children about money. Bank is just one of the stations, a copy of the adult model, which children can change. The children's primary motivation is to constantly fantasize and create something new so that the whole city will know about it through communication channels.

2. An additional source of income for the business will be a parenting school, where qualified psychologists will tell parents about the most progressive approaches to raising children.

3. We proposed to expand the business and create new areas: children's developmental and entrepreneurial summer camps and clubs for teenagers aged 14-18, educational toys production, etc.

4. Since the activity stations for such centers are built by partner brands, we suggested going a step further and involving children in solving the business problems of these brands. For example, if a supermarket chain needs to improve the children's store experience, the company at its station organizes several strategy sessions with several groups of kids and conducts research. It might also be brainstorming about new product development.

Here are the principal differences between KidZania and KidSpace brands.
By empowering children to change adults' rules and to rebuild the center as they want, we create a new brand positioning territory — creation. So, there is a significant differentiation from the KidZania brand. While KidZania is playing on Game and Education territories, KidSpace is occupying Creation territory.
After the brand strategy stage and improving the business model, our colleague and art director Vladimir Trinos proposed to name the center KidSpace and developed a visual identity. Let's look at a few pages from the brand book.
Then, Elena rented 3000 square meters of space and started to build the center based on this plan.
When construction was almost done, the new children's center had to be promoted, and a new advertising campaign had to be launched. Well, any good advertising campaign is based on a strong communication strategy. So, we've done that job too.
My colleague Eugenia and I analyzed competitors' communication channels and messages and developed 4 parts of messages based on our brand strategy:

1. Key message
2. Messages delivering brand values
3. Messages delivering emotional benefits
4. Messages delivering rational benefits
1. Key message

"Here, children create and rule"
2. Messages delivering
brand values

"No limits to your fantasies"
"No rules to your dreams"

We showed Pierrette Diaz artist's works as visual examples.

We also showed the famous OMO's brand advertising campaign called "Dirt is Good."

3. Message delivering
emotional benefits

"Dreams change the world"

We took the dreams collected in the research of children and selected relevant pictures from photo stocks to demonstrate the idea of these messages.

4. Message delivering
rational benefits

"Children's fantasy city"

Here we developed a series of messages encouraging children to come and help the city, to teach the residents new things.

All of these messages are still used in various KidSpace advertising campaigns. I would also like to mention the promotion plan.

Online channels


YouTube channel run by teens and children. The channel broadcasts emotional and rational brand messages. Kids create unique professions, improve city stations, and are included in interactions with real brands represented in KidSpace — and all this is showcased on the channel. Each month, the brightest imaginer is invited for an interview. The best fantasy, improvement, or suggestion the kids discuss on YouTube is to be seen and noted.


One of the most active social media in Russia among children in 2015 was VK. We suggested using VK to communicate with the children's audience. The brand was to broadcast the main messages aimed at the children's audience, news, best fantasists, fulfilled dreams, new achievements, active communication on children's issues, and collecting requests and suggestions. There are currently more than 20,000 children and their parents in the group.


Creating its mobile app and a website to maintain communication with children after visiting KidSpace: every child can register in the system and actively participate in the city's transformation and voting for the best initiatives.

Offline channels

Co-branding with sponsoring companies. Communication brand positioning to sponsors. Possibility to place the center's play accessories in the partners' sales outlets. Broadcasting KidSpace messages on partners' product packaging.


— Children's carts in the city's supermarkets, like those which are used in KidSpace

— Small bank terminals in the bank


Billboards in the city: broadcasting messages on an emotional and functional level.


Branded school supplies as merch — to communicate the band's messages to other kids inside the school.


While the mobile app is being developed, a sticker album can be launched to record children's achievements and engage them in learning.

There were three primary effects of our work. First is connected with the business owner’s mindset. They were impressed with the insights that we found, and it influenced even their daughters. Elena and her husband stopped to impose “adult” opinions and started to listen more to their children and even started to ask for some tips on household and business issues. And also, they bravely implemented our findings in the KidSpace center, which makes it the best place for children in the Tatarstan region. So far, the center is visited by flight buses full of kids from the region's small towns.

The second impact concerns children’s future in Kazan and this city’s satellites. Because their parents visiting the Center are inspired by the brand philosophy, they are starting to change their parenting approach. And I’m happy thousands of kids will be raised in a more friendly and free environment. And also, I hope that kids’ feedback on Kazan’s business problems will help improve their services and citizens’ quality of life.

The third result of our work was business durability. KidSpace has been continuing to work since 2014! It was tough to survive in the Covid times when the center was closed for visiting, but the business model assumed many other services for children and their parents, such as online master classes. Because the brand had a huge loyal client base, it was easy to sell them new products. Now the business continues to operate normally.

Here is what the center looks like now.

That was my first project in the brand strategy field, and I heartily thank my mentor Eugenia Lazareva for sharing this project with me and teaching me by practice.

I also thank Vladimir Trinos and his creative team, who entrusted us with such responsible work and was patient in starting his art direction and visual identity part of the work.

And, of course, I express great gratitude and respect to KidSpace business owners for having decided to create their brand from scratch, not copy KidZania's business. And also for their courage in implementing brand and communication strategies.