We understand the pain of seeing off-brand material being set free into the world. Seeing stretched logos, Comic Sans, and clashing colors all over your university's content can make you want to smack your head against your desk repeatedly. But before you give yourself another headache, check out these three steps to take back your university's branding.
As a university, you want to send a consistent message to your faculty, students, potential students and alumni. The brand you have and maintain affects the culture on campus and how others perceive the school. This is why it's so important to have control over your brand. Here's how you do it.
Set the rogues straight
Bring together faculty and staff and ask them how they feel about the university. What does it mean to them to be working or teaching at your college? What makes your university different and special compared to other universities? Talk to your faculty about the strengths of each department, then tell them the story of your university's brand. Show them what makes the university exceptional. Remind them that they are part of what makes your university special. As you build the picture of the university's brand for your staff, also talk about why it's important to maintain the brand.
This is the time to rally your faculty and staff. Remind them of your university's values and strengths, and why they should care about what the school represents. Motivate them and help them see the vision you have for the university. As you unite your faculty behind the intangible pieces of your brand, discuss the tangible aspects, too.
Bring together brand assets from across campus to find out what colors, logos, and other assets are being used. You might find that every department has unauthorized versions of your school's logo. While it is common for departments to have their own authorized logos, the changes to your logo can get out of hand, so it's important to know what your faculty are using. This is the time to set any rogue designers straight. Unite your staff under the correct branding that represents your university.
Create a design process that keeps your content on-brand, doesn't overwhelm your design team and still offers some freedom for departments to add their own flair. This is a tricky line to walk, and we discuss this process in this blog post.
Lock down your assets
Now that you have tracked down rogue designers and discussed your brand with faculty and staff, it's time to lock down the logos, colors, fonts, and other assets. This can be done with a DAM (digital asset management) system where you can store current versions of your brand assets. This will allow anyone to use these assets, but crucially, they will be using the right ones.
You can also lock down these assets in a lockable template, so different departments can add their own personalization, but the colors won't vary and logos will no longer be stretched. This gives your design team more control over how your brand is presented and ensures there won't be any more rogue designs.
Lucidpress: Design software for higher education
Lucidpress does this, and we've heard from many of our clients that the ability to lock down their assets has greatly helped their brand maintenance. One client from Reinhart Real Estate said they had agents who didn't want to have the Reinhart logo on their flyers. The designers used Lucidpress to lock down the logo on the flyers in the right size, and now agents can't change it. While the logo was locked to the template, agents were still able to personalize other aspects of the flyer, which gave them some freedom without going off-brand.
Share your locked assets
Now that you've motivated your faculty and staff to maintain your brand, and you've found a way to lock down your assets, give them access so they can use them. Your staff are excited about the university's brand story and want to support the school in creating a powerful brand identity, so let them do this through creating on-brand content. With easy-to-use templates and access to brand assets, your staff can quickly create professional-looking flyers, posters and brochures that can be used throughout the university. You've laid the groundwork, now give them the power to act.
Taking charge of your university's brand isn't a one-time event. This is a proactive, ongoing process. One action you can take to maintain your brand is regularly updating your materials, keeping your logos & colors current and consistent. You can also hold your staff accountable by holding periodic reviews to see which assets departments are using. This can be an opportune time to follow-up on the school's branding efforts and ask about students' reactions. It's important to remain consistent, but it's also important to listen to your audience.
Taking charge of your brand will give your university a more professional, unified look that will attract prospective students and make current students proud. You don't have to endure constant headaches over off-brand materials being published. Communicating with your faculty and staff, locking your assets and giving access to these assets will make brand management headache-free. It's time to take charge of your brand and to reap the benefits of a strong, creative brand identity.