News / Graphic Design

University of Portsmouth receives backlash over costs of its rebrand

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The University of Portsmouth has made national headlines for the reported costs of its recent rebrand. According to the i newspaper, the institution has been heavily criticised for spending £800,000 on an “image overhaul… including redesigning its logo” at the same time as cutting budgets in several departments. Its rebrand was revealed in July 2017 and is currently being rolled out across campus and all the university’s visual communications.

The university says it rebranded as part of a wider strategy to address “the increasingly competitive education environment and growing national and international interest”. It hopes the redesigned visual identity will “reflect more effectively what the university stands for today” and “articulate who we are and what we do” as well as its ambitions for the future. It is one of numerous universities in the UK currently undertaking rebrands to attract potential students from around the world.

However the timing of the rebrand’s roll out has been met with retaliation by some staff as departments have had budgets reduced by around five to seven percent. One lecturer, James Hicks, told i: “I don’t understand why they would spend so much money on a logo and shortly after that say we’re having difficulties and might need to make savings…If they believed the logo made a difference to student recruitment or any other business relationships, they have (then I understand) but I don’t understand what difference it would make. We recruit on reputation and rankings, on opinion, and personal contact.”

The university’s previous branding was designed in 1992, and was redesigned to coincide with the institution’s 25-year anniversary in 2017. According to the university, the process of instigating a redesign involved interviews and workshops with over 10,000 staff, students, alumni, local employers, colleges and schools in the region, and overseas partners. Feedback from these groups apparently informed the brand messaging and visual identity. The design process was also opened to public, with the choice between the final two designs being chosen by a vote.