Heriot-Watt Student Union
“Choosing to work with 39steps and Indigo Leap is possibly the best decision we have made all year.”
Jamie Nutter / Depute CEO
Heriot-Watt University is a global University with campuses in Edinburgh, Galashiels, Orkney, Dubai and Malaysia. Their Student Union needed a new brand to convey the wide range of services they offer and to encourage students to get involved with Union activities. In collaboration with research agency Indigo Leap, we conducted a brand workshop with a variety of stakeholders and broke their target audience down to 5 main personas to fully understand their very different needs. Through this process we distilled the essence of the brand which was: Students first, always.
Using the theme of ‘Students first’ as a starting point we designed a clever brand identity. First, we created the main typeface of the logo ‘HW’ from the letter ‘U’ to represent how the Union puts students at the centre of everything they do. The client wanted an additional logo marque that their in-house team could utilise to create engaging designs that are easily recognisable as part of the Union brand. The ‘U’ from the typeface can be used as a fun and playful standalone motif, which along with the strapline ‘U at the heart of the Union’ communicates the essence of their brand to the students.
A bright colour palette helps make their brand stand out in the academic setting. The pink can be used to catch students attention, whereas the grey can be utilised for more corporate collateral.
The in-house team were keen to have a flexible and versatile brand that could be utilised by students to create their own artwork and posters for events, further strengthening engagement with the brand. We created a handy ‘quick guide’ in the brand guidelines to avoid overwhelming students who simply want to make a poster, with too much information. We also created a comprehensive version for the team to use which also covered tone of voice, sub-brands, image treatment and marketing guidance.
As the majority of their target audience are Gen Z there was a clear focus on digital media marketing as a platform for delivering their message. We created a series of social media posts using the the ‘U’ motif in a playful way to encourage engagement with the students.
Heriot-Watt Scottish Borders Campus specialises in textiles, therefore we came up with the idea of a student competition to design the Union Merch, using the ‘U’ motif. Again, this encourages the student’s engagement with the brand and creates feelings of ownership.
The new brand identity has been overwhelmingly well-received but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what Deputy CEO of Heriot-Watt Student Union, Jamie Nutter has to say…
“Aside from the anecdotal response to the new brand being overwhelmingly positive, our first formal feedback from our Students gave an 83% “like” or “love” rating of the new logo we created, using words such as “fresh”, “friendly”, “fun” and “engaging” as the most popular words used to describe it. These tie in really well with our core values, giving us just another example of how 39 Steps and Indigo Leap really got to know us and create a brand around what we want to be seen as.”
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