JKR undertakes the highly meta rebrand of the School of Visual Arts master's in branding

The rebrand reflects the ever-changing temperament of the branding industry, described by JKR as "branding at the speed of culture".

4 March 2020


Since founding in 2010 Debbie Millman’s master's in branding at New York’s School of Visual Arts – the first of its kind – has become revered among those in the industry. But, over the past decade, the way both consumers and designers look at branding has shifted dramatically, meaning it was also time for the graduate program to have its very own rebrand. Handed the difficult (and very meta) brief of rebranding a branding course was Tosh Hall, Jones Knowles Ritchie’s (JKR) global chief creative officer, also a long time faculty member on the course.

The ever-changing temperament of the branding industry is also what has driven JKR’s rebrand for the graduate program, with Hall describing the approach as purposefully reflecting how “the condition of culture reflects the condition of branding and vice versa,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Our rebrand for SVA master's in branding reflects that relationship, with vivid, ever-changing visuals representative of the zeitgeist – we call it branding at the speed of culture.”

To visualise the fast-paced culture branding is built upon, JKR first introduced a connective typeface, used in both the course’s word mark but also utilised “to bring culturally provocative words and phrases to life” using animation. Also described as “the first of its kind”, the bespoke typeface is built with hundreds of unique ligatures in order to illustrate “the connection between brands and culture,” as Tosh describes. “It was key for us to seamlessly flex the type in animation to reflect the constant movement of cultural conversation.”

Further details, such as the use of photography and colour palette will change annually going forward, “truly demonstrating the agility required for the future of brand thinking.” Working with Pantone’s colour experts on both this first and future iterations of the colour palette, the range of colours chosen will consistently “reflect cultural trends”. The edition it's launched with, for example, is inspired by “the juxtaposition between moments like the Women’s March for female empowerment and protests for environmental and economic justice – with the desire for calm, comfort and sanctuary,” explains Tosh, pointing out the reasoning behind the use of “classic blues, shades of pink and red, and grounding greens used this time around.”

Despite being designed with both the industry and culture front of mind, the main aim of JKR’s rebrand is to also appeal to current and future students of the graduate course. “Our hope,” Tosh tells us, “is that the rebrand inspires students everywhere to create tomorrow’s culture-defining objects and brands.”

GalleryJKR: SVA Master's in Branding

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Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.


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