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Press release

  • 1 December 2005
  • Celebrate with us: University design scoops top award

    Katy Hiles and Blasts Colin Gifford celebrate the DBA win

    Katy Hiles and Blast's Colin Gifford celebrate the DBA win

    The University of Sussex has become the first higher education institution to win a major design award for its bold new look - beating big-name brands to do so.

    The University's publications and branding team, along with design agency Blast, beat off competition from phone giants 02, whisky makers Chivas Brothers, property development Chiswick Park and Vueling Airlines to take top honours at The Design Business Association's Design Effectiveness Awards at The Trocadero, London, last week (November 24).

    The award, for best design effectiveness in corporate/brand identity, was given for the creation of a new corporate identity for the University. The result was a distinctive brand, which in its first year helped to deliver an increase in undergraduate applications three times the national average.

    Raymond Turner, former Group Design Director, BAA, who chaired the judging, said: "The design solution not only delivered significant increases in applicants, but also created a whole new brand for the University, which is being lived by staff and students alike."

    In the earlier stages of the project, Sussex worked with brand engagement consultancy Circus to define the University's vision and values. This work was hugely productive, leading to the development of a detailed design brief with Blast.

    A key part of the new identity was the use of the acronym 'us', designed to engage and draw people into the University with questions and invitations such as "join us", "why us?" and "discover us". The new logo replaced the old Sussex coat of arms, while all corporate and promotional materials, including the prospectuses and web site, were subject to radical redesign. The new look was rolled out in March 2004, following consultation with staff, students and close collaboration between the University's branding team, led by Katy Hiles, and Blast.

    The results are testimony to the power of effective design. By February 2005 undergraduate applications had increased by 22.7 per cent. In the sciences, applications for physics increased by 35 per cent, by 81 per cent in environmental science and by 31 per cent in engineering. There was also a 99 per cent rise in applications for social work. By May, the University and Colleges Admissions Service put the number of accepted offers at Sussex at 2,037, a rise of 29 per cent on the previous year - more than three times the national average of 8.9 per cent.

    University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Alasdair Smith, said: "I am delighted with the continued success of our new visual identity. This radical and exciting design has already proved highly effective and flexible in its application, and is perfectly in keeping with the pioneering traditions of the University."

    Design Effectiveness Awards projects are assessed on commercial performance and are judged by senior industry figure from, among others, GlaxoSmithKline, Nissan, 02, Virgin Atlantic, Vodafone and Waitrose.


    Notes for editors 

    The DBA is the trade association for the UK design industry and works to promote effective design as an enhancement to business growth and profitability. See or call Julie Kirby on 020 7486 4448.

    University of Sussex Press office contacts: Jacqui Bealing and Maggie Clune. Tel: 01273 678209 or email or


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