‘Bourne again

After almost half a century, Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication is finally contracting its name to just a single word, backed by a fresh identity, a move to a different location and a new building. Lynda Relph-Knight looks at how these three developments informed the creation of an academic brand

Commercial concerns can change their name on a whim. It just needs the buy-in of the board. But for a university, such a seemingly radical move demands permission from the Privy Council, which is what the former Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication had to secure to adopt the simple Ravensbourne tag.

It may not appear radical, but the change is integral to a branding programme by Johnson Banks to herald new beginnings as the college moves from Kent to purpose-built premises on south London’s Greenwich Peninsula.

Designed by Foreign Office Architects, the building facades feature Penrose tessellations – tiles using two different polygons to create various shapes. These were the cue for a flexible identity that splits ’Ravensbourne’ into three syllables across geometric elements, taking on the muted tones of the building’s exterior.

’There are currently six variants,’ says Michael Johnson of Johnson Banks, who has applied the motif across stationery, literature, wayfinding and the website. The angles of the tiles are reflected in bias-cut edges for print collateral.

Students have been key to the project. Vibrant shots of them feature on literature, hand-pixelated to echo the shape of the tessellations. Meanwhile, two students – motion graphics student James Taylor, who created an animation of the identity, and Chelsea Palmer from graphics – worked on the branding at Johnson Banks, having won placements there as part of the process.

Jill Hogan, Ravensbourne’s head of marketing and communications, and college head Professor Robin Baker, commissioned a strategic brand review by Lloyd Northover in 2008. Johnson Banks was selected for the creative work on the strength of its portfolio and an attitude that encouraged the college to be bold. ’It was also the only group that showed an animation in the pitch,’ says Hogan.

The result was first aired last week, when the website went live, but the bulk of it will roll out mid-April ahead of the move in the autumn.

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