Where is your higher education taking you to?

Our Client

The University of Surrey was established on 9 September 1966 with the grant of its Royal Charter, but its roots go back to a late 19th-century concern to provide greater access to further and higher education for the poorer inhabitants of London.

In the words of the Vice-Chancellor (2020):

Since our establishment, the University of Surrey has been a trailblazer in higher education and research. We have been a valued partner for institutions and businesses across the globe. Our legacy in practice-centred education and cutting-edge innovation has made — and continues to make — a positive impact on society.


Why a rebrand?

This Case Study is from 2005 and we have been involved with the University ever since.

In facing up to the challenges and pressures in the HE marketplace in 2005 the University of Surrey recognised that it needed to take action to deal with a number of issues:

  • all UK universities were under financial pressure due to the ongoing reduction of government funding and the introduction of tuition fees had changed potential student perception of ‘value for money’ from their HE choices
  • the University wanted to improve its external brand awareness and promote the University’s academic achievements and unique position regarding the employability of its graduates
  • applications and enquiries from potential students were not as high as desired
  • the manner in which the University went to market was fragmented and non-strategic. There was no integrated marketing plan that all components of the University endorsed

How and What we created

The University of Surrey appointed a brand development team comprising senior members of the University’s marketing dept who worked with Carl Lamerton, focusing on images and design, and a language-focused communications expert.

Together we:

  • Facilitated the development of a new brand proposition and set of core values that would be originated and owned by the University’s leadership team
  • From this new brand platform derived a new corporate identity through a consultative process involving staff, students, alumni, partners and associates
  • Developed a new “Go-to-Market” process across the University marketing department and all related school marketing personnel

We employed our customer-centric approach to brand development which involves running workshops and getting under the skin of a brand and what it means to clients so that brand images, and marketing copy and collateral, resonate with the audience attracted to the purpose of the university. This approach ensured that the brand architecture is accurate, compelling, and emotionally committed to by the very people the brand is supposed to represent. The process was one of facilitation, structuring and skill embedding to ensure that the University of Surrey staff were able to complete the process of implementation effectively. The brand development team then continued to work over the next year on a pan-University integrated marketing plan with specific new target ratios and campaigns

Impact of the rebrand

The first positive measurable results started to show before the new brand imagery had been launched with an increase in the number of web-based enquiries following improvements to the website and the introduction of a personalised prospectus. The new corporate identity was launched in April 2007 and since that time the enquiry rate and number of applications has continued to rise.

The publication by the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), of undergraduate application figures to UK universities on February 14th 2008 revealed that applications to the University of Surrey had increased by 11.7%, against national figures which showed a 7.3% decrease. Surrey’s 11.7% was the largest increase of any university, excluding further education and specialist colleges.


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