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University of Birmingham


Drawing on 125 years of heritage, we crafted a brand to embody the rich tradition of one of the world’s leading universities.


University of Birmingham’s visual identity and brand communications had not kept pace with the ambitious scale and momentum driving its growth. The brand needed to reflect the institution’s heritage while embracing a future-focused, contemporary approach to effectively connect with a wide and complex stakeholder community. 

An extensive stakeholder engagement phase allowed us to capture the opinions of over 1000 people, providing invaluable insight to inform an authentic strategic brand framework. This included developing core brand themes and a brand philosophy – ‘Activate With Intent’. A core idea with the ability to reflect the purposeful, uncompromising attitude of the university and empower the brand with the ‘voice of activation and progress’. This is the philosophy that drives creative decision-making across the board – from tone of voice to imagery choices, ensuring every visual element of the brand captures the essence of what it means to ‘Activate With Intent’.

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The philosophy also informed the ‘Language of Activation’ - a series of brand voice traits that informed an open-source strapline that could be used by all departments of the university e.g. ‘We advance. We activate.’ The flexibility of this caters to the complexity and scale of audiences and ensures greater internal stakeholder buy-in of the brand.

Crafting a new identity



Our engagement process uncovered the depth of positive feeling towards the universities crest identity and after an in-depth visual interrogation of each element, we redrew the crest for optimisation in small and digital formats.

Crest examples

Original crest


The original crest has stood the test of time and we felt a modern update to align with contemporary standards, was needed to ensure it lasts further into the future.

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The three graphic elements that make up the crest; the lion, the mermaid and the book; were originally produced with a rougher, hand drawn style.

We re-created these for greater consistency, more accurate reproduction and enhanced visual uniformity and precision.

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crest set

Original word mark


The university’s word mark was set in Baskerville in 2005, as a homage to their famous son, John Baskerville, who revolutionised typographic design.

Original wordmark

The university wordmark has a notable design feature between the ‘Y’ and the ‘O’ which has a classic and timeless feel to it, but also gives it an element of instant recognition. So, we strengthened the weight of the wordmark rather than changing it and updated the sizing and kerning of the letterforms to give it a greater presence in digital applications.

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Through adjustments in letter form thickness and kerning, we have successfully bolstered the visual impact of the word mark while staying true to its core essence

New university logo


The updated logo honors the rich heritage and legacy that have graced the walls and halls of the university for 125 years. Designed to meet contemporary standards, it embodies our commitment to accessible and effective university communications.

Final UoB logo
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Creating an ‘active’ brand system



The system, colour palettes and typeface choices have gone through extensive online and in-person accessibility testing across print and digital outputs. This gives us an ability to enable creative freedom and greater flexibility for brand and campaigns activity that caters for a vast and varied audience landscape, whilst also achieving unmistakable brand recognition in the global market.

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The Lines of Intent in their simplest form can spin, rotate, search and reach.

Our innovative dot matrix grid serves as a versatile foundation, designed to accommodate various formats seamlessly. This feature provides the Lines of Intent with a defined set of anchor points for precise alignment, promoting thoughtful layout choices and facilitating enhanced structural integrity for all communication outputs.

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The versatile nature of the dot matrix grid facilitates the precise implementation of layout consideration and robust design structure across all formats.

A typographic library with accessibility at it’s core



We engaged in an extensive phase of typographic exploration and accessibility testing to select the typefaces for our brand. Our priority was to discover a modern, distinctive font that also preserves a deep-rooted sense of heritage and tradition.

Larken has been selected as our display font, embodying a modern serif style that exudes confidence and expressiveness. In accordance with our focus on legibility, we have limited its usage to two distinct weights; bold and regular.


This open-source modern sans-serif font, is quietly confident, highly legible and works seamlessly with the display font Larken.

The Dubai campus stands as a cornerstone within the university’s infrastructure, necessitating a font that seamlessly integrates Arabic script into the brand identity. After careful consideration, the open-source sans serif typeface Alexandria was selected for its harmonious alignment with Manrope when employed in Arabic script.


A colour palette inspired by a tradition



Our aim was to introduce an accessible colour palette that challenged the conventional norms of the higher education sector. We used the architectural heritage of Birmingham to define a range of colours that would be in keeping with the tones and hues of the university campuses.

Colour palette inspo

Our colour palette, featuring a refined off-black and off-white, complemented by a subtle gold accent, draws inspiration from the muted metal of the Byzantine domes, the intricate sandstone friezes, and the regal gold of the crest. The secondary palette was inspired by the Edgbaston campus’s redbrick architecture, heraldic crests and natural surroundings.

Capturing the past, present and the future



An editorial point-of-view was adopted in our approach to an updated image library, favouring a minimalist aesthetic to encapsulate authentic campus moments. Imperfections were embraced as a genuine portrayal of reality, forgoing post-editing, allowing the raw reality of each image to resonate independently.

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