Rebranding a university

In late 2015, we began an exercise to rebrand the University of York. There were a number of reasons why it was time to undergo this process.

First of all, the introduction of a new Vice-Chancellor heralded a new era for the University and they needed to reflect his ambitions. Their old logo, designed in 1994, was in need of updating as there were issues with legibility due to its length. As well as this, their marketing collateral was disparate and in need of a clear set of guidelines to help create a cohesive brand. The identity guidelines in place in 2007 were relatively rudimentary and often ignored.

To start the process we facilitated workshops to assess whether University staff were receptive to change and to understand where their marketing material stood at the time. It transpired that many staff and stakeholders were very receptive to a fresh approach, however, they were wary of a radical change: other UK universities had approached rebranding in this way, but to their detriment.

From the ground up, we first tackled the design of the logo. We kept the design of the ‘of York’ element, refined it and rearranged it into a stacked form. This allowed the logo to appear larger when constrained by width.

The wording ‘UNIVERSITY’ originally set in Palatino was modified, flattening the bases of the serifs and adjusting some of the lettering to create a more open and contemporary cut. These changes were subtle but necessary.

Digital communication is of obvious importance as a channel for any modern institution. It was therefore necessary to redesign the Coat of Arms into a simple form so that it could be used at a small size (when viewed on tablets or mobiles). This was then used as a stand-alone icon, for example in social media, or as a watermark. It was also added to the logo to reinforce the heritage of the University with its collegiate nature, and to reflect the city of York itself.

We had to strike a balance between an institute (and city) that had a heritage, whilst simultaneously being at the forefront of research and learning. Our solution was to use two type families Inka (a serif font) and Monsal Gothic (a sans serif). The two type styles complemented each other and could be used in varying amounts to reach difference audiences.

We developed the look of the new identity using their undergraduate prospectus as a test bed. The design help to define the publication style for much of their other literature, including their postgraduate prospectus. From here we implemented a set of brand guidelines to help dictate the look and feel of the University’s visual language.

The brand is continuing to be rolled out across the University and has received praise from staff, students and other stakeholders. The consensus is that the rebrand has been a huge success and will set the University in good stead. Its brand now has consistency and can compete with other UK universities, as well as other educational institutions abroad.

If you are considering a rebrand of this nature, please get in touch with us on +44 (0)20 8972 9700 or email us.

Victrex at K 2016 – Graphic design for exhibitions

K 2016 takes place in Düsseldorf every three years. It’s one of the world’s largest polymer trade shows. This year we designed the surface graphics for Victrex, an advanced polymer producer. These videos show our work in situ.

If you are considering exhibiting at a trade show, talk to us about your surface graphics and exhibition design on +44 (0)20 8972 9700.

Branding Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies at UK universities are a time of tradition, celebration and recognition for the achievements of students. Consequently, branding graduation ceremonies is important for universities and the University of York is no different. We have designed a new brand identity for the University. Part of this involves the specific look and feel of graduation, including the re-artworking of the Coat of Arms, way-finding and campus signage.

If you are a university looking for a fresh approach to your brand, give us a call on +44 (0)20 8972 9700 or email us.

How we helped our client engage with dental surgeons

This weekend is the BARD (British Academy of Restorative Dentistry) Conference and our client Juvora approached us to design their exhibit and marketing material for the event. As Juvora is currently going through a rebrand, we helped them through the process of aligning the exhibition material with their updated guidelines.


Proud to be helping Bowel Disease UK

This year, Bowel Disease UK are exhibiting a garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show to raise awareness for Crohn’s Disease, a debilitating and often deadly condition. We designed a brochure for the show promoting their cause and to provide information about the garden, the charity, the sponsors and the garden designers. Bowel Disease UK does incredible work in the fight against this disease and we’re proud to support them.

The show garden went on to win ‘Best in Show’ at RHS Hampton Court!

New website

Today sees the launch of our brand new website. After three years, we say goodbye to the old design. We’ve redesigned our website to be responsive to enhance the viewing experience on mobiles and tablets, and also to showcase a lot of our more recent work.

If you are interested in redesigning your website to improve your brand experience please give us a call on +44 (0)20 8972 9700 or email

Corn… wall!

In late 2015, we collaborated with illustrator Andrew Denholm to create a workspace for our studio. The design had to have impact for our clients when they walked in the front door and Andrew’s illustrative style was perfect for this. The wall space is around 3.5 metres tall. Consequently there was plenty of space to be filled… the piece is inspired by Mount’s Bay, Cornwall where Tim Ball, owner of Ball Design & Branding comes from. It depicts the many facets of life in and around the bay, hence fish, basking sharks and mermaids were all thrown into the mix. The right hand wall had lighting on it and so we devised a way of incorporating this into the design… what could be better than Wolf Rock lighthouse illuminating the scene.

Working with Andrew Denholm on the project was great fun and we feel he really captured the essence of what we wanted… something personal that we would not tire of for a long time.

The following images show the development process from early sketches through to final pencil drawings and refined artwork as well as some shots of the installation.