After the University of Portsmouth was subject to backlash around the costs of its rebrand, we asked Nick Finney from NB Studio to analyse the reaction, and many others like it, where design’s value is put into question.
Last week a headline in the i newspaper appeared reading “University under fire for £800,000 rebrand despite slashing department funds”.
So, people are up in arms about another costly education sector rebrand, this time it’s for the University of Portsmouth.
What I’m supposed to do here is defend the value of design. I’m supposed to talk about how the press have reported the story without knowing the facts, the background, the context and therefore it’s a story which is in some way skewed or unfair.
I might acknowledge that it’s unfortunate how these types of articles always feature the logo as the standard bearer, a visual shorthand paraded as evidence in the immoral use of a six figure sum.
I could question how the press has been able to get hold of this figure, or how it was possible for them to speak to disgruntled members of staff, faculty, students and unions and why people weren’t properly briefed, didn’t understand the value of the brand refresh, were not on board with the process in the first place, and consequently weren’t thrilled with the results.
This is a recurring theme, in recent years stories of student revolt, public disgrace and institutional embarrassment have been linked to brand refresh programmes at UCL, King’s College London, Warwick University and Loughborough. Our own brand refresh with Ravensbourne didn’t make the front page, but it was heavily criticised by some, and it hurts.
The more I discover about The University of Portsmouth and its rebrand, the more I am assured of the rigour in the process. They spoke to everyone, polled everyone else, included this and consulted with that. The purpose is clear, the aims are met.
But the truth is, I don’t want to ask any questions, after all I’m not a reporter and neither am I an expert on educational branding. I have to go on face value, as others have done. I have to go on what I see, the end result. I have to go with my emotional response, my gut:
I don’t like it either.