Inside the Student Union Rebrand

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Characterised with bright shapes, bold colours, and a new name, the Students’ Union recently announced their new rebrand as ‘The SU’. “As part of the Students’ Union’s new strategy, we are aiming to increase the impact we have as an SU,” explained SU President Ben Davies, “engage more students in what we do and strengthen the student voice; enabling everyone to get the most out of their time at Bath.”

The rebrand was done with design agency Holdens, reportedly chosen for their work with other student unions and their business pitch. Ted Holden, the company’s Managing Director, commented “we have worked with students to create a brand that will create more cohesion across The SU. It will be easier to recognise and access key service areas, to identify communication across campus, and to ensure that The SU has a prominent voice when representing students.”

Research was conducted through a mixture of workshops, meetings and a survey. The workshops were split between Union stakeholders, officers/managers, and students (two for general students and one specifically for postgraduate and international students). The survey was sent out to all students and was answered by 1,017 respondents.

The name change from ‘University of Bath Students’ Union’ to ‘The SU (or, “The SU, University of Bath”, for formal communications) was spurred from Holdens’ research which indicated that 75% of students referred to the Union as “The SU” already.

One of the key design features of the new rebrand is the use of different coloured block shapes in a pattern. According to Holdens’ Brand Guidelines report, these were “developed to represent the variety of combinations that students can choose from”. This was drawn from the chosen brand route of “shaping your experience”.

Amidst a divisive online reaction to the design over the past couple of days, Ben stated, “I also think there has been some confusion, some people are thinking the shapes are the logo or meant to represent/say something when in reality they are just a collection of shapes that will become much clearer as the brand is rolled out.”

For the colour scheme, a bright blue has been chosen for the overall union theme. In their brand guidelines report, Holdens write “colour is an important part of our brand, and is inspired by the architecture and surroundings of the city of Bath. ‘Blue’, ‘White’ and ‘Bath Stone’ are our main brand colours, and ‘Blue’ is the colour of our logo. ‘Bath Stone’ is drawn from the University of Bath colour palette to connect both brands.” A black and white design has also been included in the rebrand package.

The services of the SU will be split into five distinct areas: development, experiences, groups, support and voice. Each will be marked by its own colour scheme and encompass the multiple sub- brands of the SU, from societies to social events.

In total, the project has cost £34,720.00 (VAT exclusive). This was split between:

  • Research – workshops, meetings, online research and brand positioning report: £8,400
  • Brand Development – guidelines, logo and toolkit: £11,760
  • Social media strategy – audit, creative assets and training: £5,040
  • Website – template design, copywriting and style guide: £9,520

Ben added “you can’t compare what we spend to what the University is spending on space etc. as it is not the same pot of money. We are a completely separate institution in all ways including how our budgets work. This process will save us money in the long term, as we won’t be getting things constantly designed by new developers.”

As the rebrand continues to roll out throughout the next year, only time will tell the impact of the new SU brand.

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Tasha Jokic is a Politics with Economics student who focuses on society and women's issues. She also reports for bathimpact.

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