Brand Design: Creating a Vibrant and Connected Student Community

A Truly Deeply Brand Identity Case Study
A few years back Deakin University came to us for help to re-launch their student union association. New legislation was changing the landscape of student unions and DUSA understood they needed to create a new relevance to the student body on their multiple campuses. DUSA is a student organisation which is run by students of Deakin University, for students of Deakin University. DUSA members study off campus and on, and include undergraduates, postgraduates and international students. What DUSA needed was a brand identity that would help position the organisation in a way that connected with the students. As student union membership became optional for the first time, DUSA found themselves competing against brands and other interests for the students loyalty.

We ran a series of brand definition workshops with the DUSA CEO, Communication and Marketing teams, key DUSA staff and of course a bunch of the student representatives. We defined DUSA’s brand essence as

‘Creating a vibrant and connected university community’.

A New Brand Name for a New Era
When you go about creating a new brand for an existing organsation, all existing brand properties need to be considered against the defining essence and values. So it was with DUSA’s name. The process that defined DUSA’s brand proposition, essence and values also considered the development of a new brand name for the student union. Of all the things we do in brand, developing new names is the most complex. Names are held close to the heart of customers, staff and business owners alike. Getting agreement on a new name can be a lengthy and painful process for all involved, and trademarking can extend the pain further. With DUSA we led a process that ran surprisingly smoothly. We had a client with a real appetite for change in order to meet the challenges of the new landscape they found themselves in. We established a new name that reflected the values of the brand and its desired personality moving forward and spoke with a brand voice that connected with their student audience. The new name was also selected for the opportunities it provided for a unique visual brand image that could cut-through on campus and resonate with the students.

The new selected name was:

4U

Because DUSA didn’t have the ability or opportunity to educate their market on why they had changed their name and brand. They went through a transition period were they called themselves:

DUSA4U

A New Brand Identity for 4U
To support the transitional communication strategy we designed a transitional version of the brand mark for appropriate and first point of contact communication. The transition brand mark had a life of 6-12 months as determined by pick-up and acceptance of the new visual identity.

The design approach we took for the 4U brand identity system was unconventional. The visual language of corporate brand identity is typically structured and formal. The approach we took with the 4U brand identity adopted a non-traditional approach that intentionally broke the rules of corporate identity. We took our lead for the brand identity design from the culture of surf and street brands which approach their image with a loose, irreverent mind-set, often changing the look of their identity from season to season. This shifting style approach gave the 4U brand identity design a real relevance to the student audience and intentionally shifted the brand away from a sense of university ownership to one of student ownership.

We designed a core brand mark for 4U that was so distinctive that as format, form, colour and texture shifted, the brand mark could always be clearly identified.

Another advantage of having a brandmark that is so versatile is that it also can run-with and adapt to changing trends. An example of what we had in mind was placing the DUSA4U brandmark on a Tim Biskup sketchel.

A part of the the promotion and introduction of DUSA to the students, we created DUSA Ambassadors who would wear DUSA4U branded t-shirts. It was critical from day one of the brand identity change-over for DUSA to have brand ambassadors who would fly the flag for the DUSA4U brand. The ambassadors gave the newly developed DUSA brand a face and personality to pass-on DUSA’s messages to the students.


If you’d like to find out more about this project, or how we could define and create a distinctive brand for you and your organisation, why not give us a call.

Tim Wood
Design Creative


3 Comments

  1. I love how flexible this design is. How many different logos do they have or does it just keep changing? I think the T-shirts work really well because the students and staff would want to wear them. Who did the illustrations?

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