Blast takes University of Sussex identity challenge

The University of Sussex launches its Blast-designed identity this week, as the institution ramps up its drive to become a member of the country’s top 12 elite universities.

The group began work on the project in August 2003, following a four-month research phase, undertaken by Circus, which identified a ‘quite innovative, almost radical’ positioning for the university, says Blast creative director Colin Gifford.

According to Gifford, universities take a uniform approach to branding and risk losing their sense of identity in the race for league table positions.

‘In the university sector the cliché is for the brand to be a rubber stamp, with values encapsulated in a crest,’ he explains. ‘But [Sussex University] has a challenging approach to education, so the identity aims to move away from traditional visual representation in the sector.’

The identity also serves to unify a previously disparate look, which had more than 250 different logos in operation, Gifford adds.

The group’s work takes a typographic approach to the marque and uses the university’s initials to create the word ‘us’. ‘We wanted the identity to have a creative element [that can be used] to say a lot of things about the university. It’s also campaignable and sums up the university’s themes of inclusivity and social engagement,’ he says.

The new identity will be implemented across signage, market-ing and corporate literature, stationery, launch material, a website – www.sussex.ac.org – and merchandise.

Blast and Circus, who pitched jointly for the work, were appointed in March last year after an eight-way pitch (DW 20 March 2003).

The work is part of a restructuring programme at the university, encompassing its academic structures, curriculum and its relationship with the local community.

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