The Loughborough Rebrand

This was obviously a big project. I don’t want to think about how many hours were spent in meetings or how many thousands of emails were sent deliberating every part of this initiative.

The petition that has launched in opposition to this rebrand makes one thing apparent: the student body cares about this institution and its reputation. The students also care about the connection between those two things and their future.

It is not easy to make a brand. I have nothing but compassion for the team at Loughborough who pushed this through. When you think about having to build something that makes sense at every scale and context - from a 100 pixel favicon at the top of a web browser to a massive sign on the side of a stadium, it is what one might define as a proper mission.

At this point, I think it’s worth stating that I am reserving my judgement on the change. There is yet to be an official response from the university and most people are still sitting somewhere between shock and anger. Good, long-term decisions are not made in the midst of those emotions. It is easy to slam the rebrand, because it is different and we are used to something else.

Current students are attached to this logo pretty much because it was here when we started. When we drove up Epinal Way for the first time, that logo is what we saw. Three years from now, the same will be true for almost every single undergraduate in this place.

Changing the brand is a big move and this probably could have been handled more gracefully.

Perhaps an email should have been sent out to the student body — something like:

“Hello Students, it’s your marketing team. We’re considering a change to our brand. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far and we want you to see it.”

Nothing more, nothing less.

No vote, nothing democratic — just showing the student body what the people in the buildings by the fountain are up to.

Then a week or so later, perhaps even longer (this is a rebrand we are talking about), a simple poll should have been sent out — to get a feel of what the current students think. Given that a rebrand is about changing perception, perhaps the original design brief should’ve been sent out with the poll too. Why? As current students of the university, we have a perception of what Loughborough is and what it is not. A rebrand is designed to change that, so the very nature of the change suggests that the current student body will find it painful.

Why wait between showcasing the rebrand and asking the students if they like it?

To avoid the shock of change.

24 hours in, I find myself normalising to the new logo in the contexts it was designed for — I find myself thinking that it fits right in on Twitter and Facebook.

Where does the new logo look out of place? It doesn’t sit right on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, as a web site, is a serious place. In that kind of context, we want the brand of our university to portray 100% of the academic nature that it has.

No disrespect to the chaps and ladies that run the Twitter & Facebook feeds here (I think they do a great job of providing interesting photographs and stories from the history of the institution), but the new brand makes a lot more sense on those platforms because it’s a little less serious. The font is playful (not serious) and the logo is simple (not complex) — like the kind of stuff that’s on the Twitter feed. The way we engage with the brand on Twitter is a little different to the way one would expect to engage with say, a graduation certificate.

Universities at their best are serious, incredible institutions. They do math, science, philosophy and ground-breaking research. They push the boundaries of human knowledge and achievement.

Some places on the Internet are serious too, and we should probably be using the crest there.

I’m prepared to be completely wrong about this, as I know nothing about creating a brand or running a higher education institution. Those things are so achingly hard that it is almost incomprehensible.

That said, I don’t think that it is unreasonable to expect that an institution of this stature would let us know that such a change is coming, or to get some wide ranging opinions on how the brand is perceived and how it should be used.

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