Formerly known as Polytechnic South West until 1992, Plymouth University is the ninth largest university in the UK, with a student body reaching just over 30,000 students along with 3,000 faculty and staff members. In June of this year, Plymouth University launched its new identity, “With Plymouth University,” designed jointly by here design and Buddy.
The agencies pitched two approaches. The first was an evolutionary approach which took the most memorable elements of the existing brand and created a refreshed identity. Solution two was the revolution, and took to its heart the aim of the University: For people to say they are proud to be associated with such an enterprising and forward-thinking institution. From that, the importance of the word with was evident. How much better, how much more inclusive would the sentence ‘I am studying mathematics at the University of Plymouth’ become if it read ‘I am studying mathematics with Plymouth University’?!
— Branding Journey [PDF] (Worth a read)
The previous logo was nothing more than an uninspiring and abstract dot. With poor typography, there was little support for a school that The Guardian reported as “Delivering a first class campus.” The new, comprehensive, and mobile “With Plymouth University” brand is a fresh revamp for a public university. The branding feels more personalized, letting the university be whatever it needs to be for each individual student.
The clean, crisp, and rounded custom typeface does a nice job of feeling friendly while also being neutral enough that the brand can become tailored — to an extent — to each student and staff. The calm and clean color palette supports the brand neutrality but adds some youthfulness with its brighter secondary color palette.
The idea of a mobile identity is nothing new, and the “With Plymouth University” concept walks a fine line in regards to the identity created for the New Museum by Wolff Olins, even if a bit divergent aesthetically and conceptually. Overall, having a brand that lives with you and transforms for you is an easy and smart sell for a client and a consumer but not too original. Nevertheless, this identity is something that I would be intrigued by as a potential student, and that is something Plymouth University can embrace.