A thousand stories in one
Manchester Students’ Union was founded in 1861 and is the largest students' union in the UK. Every year thousands of students pass through the doors of its building on Oxford Road in Manchester, each one living their own unique experience of student life and contributing to the ongoing story of the institution.
The mission of the Students’ Union is to be the voice of students, support them and enrich their University experience; but increasingly it found that not all students understand what the Students’ Union is, or what it can do for them.
Time for a fresh approach.
The exploration process
The key to success for this process was exploration and engagement.
Our team grew as we were joined by the Students’ Union team and over
30 students. We lived like students, we worked with them to explore the
brief and the current brand, and we mined insight and personal experience
of every brand touchpoint.
By students, for students
This, together with a deep understanding of the student mindset, preferences and approach gained during engagement, gave us a foundation for developing a new brand system which captures the unconventional, spontaneous and independent spirit of the organisation and its audience.
The system enables the Students’ Union to create art across almost any format, from professionally designed materials to peer-created content; animation, literature, collage, cut-up writing, sculpture and installation – and present it in a consistent, recognisable, on-brand way. The brand system itself embodies freedom, expression and experience.
The student voice
The Students' Union's tone of voice works to a sliding scale which covers irrevent to formal communication, to allow for adaptation to a range of scenarios.
To help the Students’ Union get its different messages across in the most effective and, importantly, appropriate way, we devised a headline system that scales up and down in weight.
This is useful depending on the channel being used to communicate, and also the subject matter of the communication. For example, an end-of-term party might want to employ the most impactful style, but an announcement about a sensitive issue such as an announcement about lecture strikes might be more appropriately communicated in a more restrained weight.
It's a simple and effective way to enable the Student Union to adjust the volume of their communications across the really diverse range of subjects they have to address.
Capturing the student mindset
What defines a student? A mindset. The new Students’ Union brand identity is an expression of this mindset built on profile analysis paired with insights into the beliefs, attitudes, opinions and behaviours of not only this generation of students, but also those generations that have gone before, and those to come.