As a result of input and comments from industry, the teaching of branding and identity has undergone a radical rethink over the last four years. This new thinking has had a beneficial impact on what we teach, how we teach it and most significantly, when it is delivered.
Intended to give students a basic grounding in the theory and application of branding and identity, the six-week programme was previously taught at the beginning of year two. However, the review made clear that this timing was too close to the delivery of ‘live’ year two projects such as ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) and RSA (Royal Society of Arts), both of which typically include a branding element.
Instead, we now teach branding and identity to the second term of the first year. We also made the content more suitable for level one study – through more hands-on and interactive mini-projects – and teach students the ‘nuts and bolts’ of branding, through role play, small group exercises and work in three-dimensions. The programme results in the creation of a flexible brand identity, bringing together all of the theoretical and practical skills gained over the previous few weeks.
One of the projects featured on the programme is the single-session ‘Create a USP’ task. In it, small groups of students are shown marketing videos for different brands, chosen to represent the values and brand positioning of that company. After the showing, the groups are allocated a brand, and they are encouraged to undertake further research. The groups are given sets of words to that could describe various attributes of their given brand, such as audience definitions, product/service descriptions, brand values and customer benefits.
The groups then have around 90 minutes to mix and match words from the sets to write and present a credible USP for the brand.
As a result of the programme, we have noticed that, in advance of the ISTD and RSA projects in year two, students have a greater working knowledge of the the practicalities and implications of branding and identity. They also recognise the differences and similarities between the two concepts, and are better able to apply them in these and other projects throughout the remainder of the course.