Indiana University

Brand Erosion × Strategic Design = Integrity

Indiana University had reached the point that many large, geographically dispersed and decentralized organizations ultimately reach—inconsistency and variability in its naming conventions and visual identity across its various campuses had begun to seriously erode its overall brand integrity. Although IU has an extremely capable internal design group, we were asked to help assess and frame the challenge, and to provide practical solutions that could be implemented over time.

Going to College

In order to understand and communicate the scope of the issue, we began by executing a brand and nomenclature audit that encompassed every single school, facility and building in the IU universe. The results—visualized in a clickable online ‘molecule’—enabled participants in the program to clearly identify discrepancies and to understand the scope of the challenge. From that initial research it was determined that:

  • The IU brand mark, although misused in some cases, was clearly a powerful unifying element that did not need updating. It simply needed to be applied with respect and consistency.
  • Real challenges lay in the lack of naming and nomenclature conventions that would provide clarity and uniformity across the university’s various schools and campuses.
  • Typographic variability was contributing to the fragmentation of the overall brand.

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Articulation and Execution

To create the foundation for a set of visual identity standards, we first developed a naming and nomenclature system that accounted for and accommodated the many subtleties and nuances inherent in an institution the size of Indiana University. Working with a digital type foundry, we then created a custom font designed to be simultaneously reflective of historically-used IU fonts but also totally unique to Indiana University. We also re-crafted the university’s seal, making adjustments for greater clarity and legibility when used in various media, and finally, we developed clear standards for logo / identity / typography use including spatial relationships, color selection and hierarchy that were then shared with IU’s team of internal designers to help them begin implementing the program.

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Results

By implementing this systemized but flexible nomenclature and identity program over time, Indiana University has been able to unify its visual presence and reduce the confusion that results from inconsistently applied naming and graphic standards.

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Client

Indiana University

This visualization illustrates the full extent of our engagement with this particular client, broken down by the percentage of specific capabilities we provided during the relationship.

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Capabilities

  • General
  • Individual
  1. I Understanding / strategy
    1. A Research
    2. B Data visualization
    3. C Brand strategy
  2. II Conceptualization / articulation
    1. D Naming / nomenclature
    2. E Positioning / message development
    3. F Copywriting / content development
  3. III Communication design / execution
    1. G Corporate identity
    2. H Video / motion graphics
    3. I Web design / development
    4. J Physical spaces
    5. K Collateral / publications
    6. L Events / experiences
    7. M Digital media / marketing
    8. N Social media
    9. O Packaging
  4. IV Measurement / consulting
    1. P Search engine marketing
    2. Q Creative consultation
    3. R Innovation workshops