The Branding of a University: Developing a Collaborative Process

By David Smart.

Published by The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As cities of teaching and learning, research, finance, administration and marketing departments, universities demand collaboration between people in order to work efficiently and sustainably. Branding and visual identity plays a key role in these large organisations, reflecting a tone of voice linked to a set of aspirational values. In re-designing its visual identity, Plymouth University (UK) demanded a collaborative way of working. This paper defines how a new visual identity for the University was created through collaboration between designers and stakeholders to encourage a pioneering, enterprising and creative solution to a complex design problem. Background to the project is described and detail is given on how research helps establish a mandate for change. Guiding principles encouraging working together and a holistic approach to branding are explained. Research and collaborative processes leading to an integrated design strategy to meet stakeholder needs as well as underpinning organisational values are presented. The approach to commissioning the right designer, creating and developing a design brief, as well as evaluating evolutionary or revolutionary design solutions is illustrated. The project is coordinated and overseen by several members of the University from business, marketing and communications, graphic communication and three-dimensional design.

Keywords: Collaborative, Ways of Working, Establishing Visual Identity, Holistic Approach, Branding, Solutions to Complex Design Problems, Working Together

The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.85-95. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 350.681KB).

Professor David Smart

Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer in Graphic Communication, Communication Arts, School of Art and Media, Faculty of Arts, Plymouth University, Plymouth, Devon, UK

David is an award winning graphic designer based in the west of England. He graduated in graphic design, beginning his career in editorial design. During the 1980s, he worked as design director with XL Design (London) and later a design partner with Accident (London). He has extensive experience working in corporate, branding and publishing design, and especially with clients in the music industry and the arts. He has also taught at a number of London art schools. Before 1998, David was head of design at the Decca Record Company (London), responsible for the design of the company’s classical/cross-over output and brand identity worldwide. He directed art events and photo sessions with many artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Angela Gheorgiou and Michael Nyman. At the University of Plymouth, he became Programme Leader (BA Hons Graphic Communication with Typography) in 2007, and formed the Message Research Group in 2008. He is now Subject Leader of Communication Arts and external examiner for the MA Design and Communication Programmes at the University of the Creative Arts. David is passionate about the teaching of typography and thinking about brands in the wider communication context.