Start talking about ‘brand’ and the first question I tend to get from those not immersed in marketing is ‘What is it?’. Our brand is essentially who we are and how we present ourselves to the world, from the way we describe ourselves to all of our audiences – students, staff, the wider world – and the look and feel of everything we do across our printed publications, our digital presence, and on the campus.
Rewind to the year 2000 and we see the University, and the world around it, as a very different place. Mobile phones were still not an accessory carried by everyone and those that were in circulation had little or no internet access. Tablets like the iPad were still a distant notion. Print was still dominant in terms of how communicated to the outside world.
It was in this environment that the University’s brand guidelines were last redeveloped. That means the tools and frameworks developed then – colours, logos, look and feel – have been in place for almost one-third of our 50 years of existence as an independent university.
That in itself is not necessarily a reason to change things. Many successful brands rely on strong elements that have been in place for a lot longer. But it is more than long enough to look at something and see if it still works or is fit for purpose.
Much work has been done over the past few years in articulating the University’s vision and core values, resulting in the Transformation vision. We have a strong sense of who we are and what we are here to do. We need to make sure that is clear to people to outside of the University as well, particularly our core audiences such as potential students at home and abroad.
However, a detailed brand perception study carried out for us by Ipsos MORI earlier this year found there was low brand awareness among our key audiences, which we need to address. We are doing this in a number of ways, including articulating our core messages more clearly and consistently.
This clarity and consistency need to apply to our visual identity as well. The existing brand guidelines have not been applied consistently, and the look and logo are relatively weak, the logo itself referring to the University structure in 2000.
This is not just about a logo (although we have made some changes to that). It is about how we present ourselves to the world and will be an integral component of our wider marketing and communications, supporting our priorities in student recruitment and ultimately improving the University’s standing and financial position.
We have a great story to tell and a great offer to make to prospective students and staff and potential academic and research partners. The University has invested significantly to help boost our activities in key areas such as student recruitment. We need a strong brand to help us get that message through.
To that end we have been working with Tangent Graphics, an award-winning Scottish company who produced designs and branding for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. They have links to the University through employing graduates and interns from Duncan of Jordanstone. They understand us, and have developed their knowledge with a wide-ranging series of workshops, fact-finding sessions and conversations across the University in recent months.
What we are now putting in place is not a new brand. The core elements of what was there before are still present, but strengthened and remodelled to work best in the environment we have now and in the future. It is an evolution rather than a revolution.
It is built on principles of great student experience, a collegiate and interdisciplinary environment and our core values. It speaks to a strong student voice, one of the things that makes Dundee unique. It is grounded in our history.
The visual aspect is something that is clear, that can be consistently applied, and is much more instantly recognisably Dundee. It includes a unique typeface, ‘Baxter Sans’, developed solely for us and named after our founder Mary Ann Baxter, whose progressive values (she stipulated in her bequest that the University should educate women alongside men) continue to inform who we are.
We are focused on authenticity and the strength of the University experience. And we want to project ‘Dundee’ as loudly and clearly as possible. We believe this revised brand framework will make it easier for all in the University community to do that.
You can see and find out more about the refreshed brand framework on the University website.
Strongly dislike the new logo. I feel like it has been oversimplified in addition to becoming less visually appealing. I do not think it should lose so much detail, in addition to what I would view as simply the wrong shade of blue if it has to remain as one.
I really like it! This new logo is modern – feels like a step forward from the fiddly wee thing we used to have. We all have to move with the times and think about what the rest of the world sees when they look at us, old logo and look was really old fashioned.
I am 100% not in favour of the new branding- it is a complete downgrade from the original branding and do not find the blue appealing and feel its lost its sense of traditionalism by the taking away of the other colours from the logo. I feel its very plain and the simplicity of it takes away any kind of prestigious nature of the branding of such a good university, therefore not being a good respresentative- especially when DJCAD has such a good reputation.
Not a massive fan of the new logo seems less distinctive rather than more.
Also the new course description packages look a bit sterile, almost like a leaflet you would pick up at a doctors surgery. I like the new pictures but just think overall they are a bit boring and uninspiring.
Keep the old logo… This new one is very boring and not effective at all.
The process of designing the new brand was highly exclusive. At this stage, you have to take it as you don’t have any alternative options. I’m not a fan of it tho.
I really like the new branding, it’s really fresh and moved away from the stuffiness of the old branding. I think it reflects what Dundee University is all about, creative, innovative and not afraid to take risks. I think it’s a winner.
As a veteran of a couple of brand refreshes, as well as some big engagement campaigns in brand-name corporations, you and your team have done a great job with the update to UoD’s brand.
The new logo is much cleaner and more readable, the photographic style is much more engaging, and the new font is a really nice blend of clean and modern with classic and traditional.
And I definitely appreciate the digital-first approach to the layouts. Really good work! I’m looking forward to seeing it make an impact on all the internal and external materials.
The university shouldn’t be so keen to ‘modernise’ if it forgoes its historical foundation. This new branding makes us appear like some polytechnic from the 70s that’s had it’s logo inspired by our friends at IBM. Our current shield has character, and is a symbol resonant of prestige and familiarity to our graduates. To make such changes without the consultation of the student body, which I assume will disapprove of these plans, would be unjustified.
Thanks for your feedback. This work has included consultation with the student body, via DUSA.
I think the modernisation is exactly what is needed. Unlike older universities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, with more heritage and profound image, Dundee is a young, innovative and forward thinking university. Keeping up to date with tasteful designs and cleaning up our image shows exactly what we are about!
I like the new logo, though the colour is going to be harder to match with a variety of backgrounds. The leaflet examples look a bit like they’ve gone through an overzealous filter, or like the text and logo used to be black but have been washed out into blue, and the text behind (as in the Johanna Bassford one) is visually confusing. That said, It does look quite sleek otherwise.
Let’s be honest, the legacy branding is no longer fit for purpose. This is a nice move forward, and I’m confident it will do a good job for the University. There will always be people that disagree; that’s just the nature of the beast. If you look at it objectively, these are reasonable changes.
Good job, Tangent.
After getting over the shock of the new, I’m warming to this. It looks like quite a step forward for the university’s look — different both to the stuff of previous years and other universities in Scotland. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works in the next prospectus.
I think that we are long overdue a change and all of this stuff really sits quite nicely. University branding always ends up the same, but this looks really different from everything else I’ve seen and has a bit of life to it.