City University ditches contemporary identity

London’s City University is undergoing its first major rebrand in almost ten years, with Spencer du Bois and Mosaic.

The visual overhaul, which involves a radically different logo and adaptation into an identity system, is a sweeping departure from the university’s existing marque.

Spencer du Bois partner Max du Bois says, ‘There was a trend in the late 1990s to produce emotive and contemporary logos, of which City is a great example. However, as further education has got more competitive and become feecharging, City saw that it had a huge depth of heritage [to differentiate it] that its current logo doesn’t draw on.’

Brighton consultancy Mosaic has created a heraldic identity for the university, as part of the revamp, which is expected to reassert the university’s business and professional heritage, aligning it with top tier universities. Mosaic took over the identity work from Spencer du Bois, which was originally briefed to look at the logo.

Mosaic managing director Laurie Griffiths reveals that City University requested a number of design options based on its heraldry, using the university’s coat of arms, a shield and the St George cross as potential routes for the final design.

‘The one we went for in the end was a streamlined coat of arms. We got round some of the negative connotations surrounding the St George cross by using it portrait, rather than landscape. We did all of this in just a four-day turnaround,’ says Griffiths.

Earlier this month, Spencer du Bois won a six-way pitch as part of a public tender process to create a ‘coherent, yet flex ible’ visual identity system that would work across all the university’s schools. It involved technical questions about the organisation and a demonstration of relevant experience, according to du Bois.

‘Often you might not have an issue with the logo, but with the way it’s been used. It might have been used inconsistently in terms of typography, layout or tone of voice,’ says du Bois.

The real challenge for the identity system, he says, is to get the right degree of flexibility for including the university’s individual schools.

There will be eight versions of the logo within an overall visual identity system, and a distinctive look for each school. The new branding is expected to be in use across marketing collateral, website, signage and buildings from September.

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