University Rebrands: Maximise Impact, Minimise Backlash

IE’s MD and Brand Consultant, Ollie Leggett, spoke to a packed audience at the CASE Europe Annual Conference in Brussels. Ollie told the story of three failed university rebrands and the lessons we can learn, before being joined by Maddie McGowan, Director of Marketing, Communications and Development at Cranfield University, who helps to unpack the three essential principles required to avoid a backlash.

If you couldn’t make it to Brussels, you can now watch the presentation at your leisure. Listen as Ollie and Maddie explain the process they went through with Cranfield's many internal and external stakeholders to research, refine, and re-express the University's brand, which launched in July.

Below each video we've also included some useful timing pointers should you want to skip to a particular section.

Alternatively, click to visit the playlist on YouTube, where you'll also find the entire 48-minute presentation. 

HE key stats, trends and the importance of brand (8:59)


0:00 – Introduction and HE sector context
5:53 – What is brand anyway?


University rebrands: three recent disasters and two successes (10:16)


0:00 – Introduction and University of California
4:12 – King's College London
5:40 – Loughborough University
7:44 – Lancaster University
8:49 – University of Warwick


Three principles of avoiding a backlash:  interview with Cranfield University (23:06)



0:00 – Introduction and Principle 1: The critical importance of internal engagement
8:33 – Principle 2: Do your homework. Understand why your advocates care about you, and what makes you distinctive.
16:22 – Principle 3: Be confident. And be prepared.


Questions from the audience and summing up (6:39)


0:00 – What was your budget and timeframe for the project?
0:49 – Now that the core creative and guidelines are done, how dependent on IE are you?
1:45 – Why did Cranfield retain the crest for certain purposes and how does that work in practice?
2:42 – What happened to the many sub-brands you’d mapped in the aftermath of the new brand identity?
4:44 – How did you get students involved in the listening phase? What kind of response did you have to your survey?
5:49 – Final thoughts


Thanks for watching!

Check out the 'Deep Dive' case study on Cranfield University.