UCLU rebranding estimated to cost £68,125

Just over a year since UCL’s last rebranding and a year since UCL signed the biggest loan in British university history of 280 million pounds

One year since UCL Provost Michael Arthur claimed that UCL was in a “barely financially sustainable position”, discussions have been made to rebrand UCLU, at a rather large cost of £68,125.

In November the Trustees Board met to discuss plans to rebrand UCLU, with the minutes from the meeting revealing that UCLU intends to be rebranded using the company Pickle Jar Communications. If the rebrand goes ahead, it is set to be completed by July 2018.

The £68,125 goes towards rebranding UCL's Union, and additionally towards 'content strategy development', plus a 'website redesign process.' All of this is reliant upon 'savings being identified to not deviate from the agreed budget position.'

Trustees at the meeting, such as External Trustee Mary Basterfield (an alumna of UCL), suggested that the proposal for a rebranding should be agreed upon, so long as it was funded by savings made to UCL's financial budget, rather that it being 'an additional cost.'

Meanwhile the Head of Finance, Fatemeh Beyad commented that savings made in other areas to UCL's budget meant that the net effect would in fact be around £24,000. The External Trustee, Martin Walsh (a member of UCL staff), voiced in this initial meeting that this costing wasn't catered for in the original budget, and there needs to be a 'way to recover this [additonal expenditure].'

This is not the first time in the last year that UCL has undergone rebranding. In 2016 UCL launched the ‘It’s All Academic’ campaign, a Philanthropic campaign that aimed to raise ‘£600m for cutting edge research, transformative capital projects and expanded student support.’ The rebranding was carried out by Lambie-Nairn; many posters around campus feature the new styling.

Neither is it the first time that rebranding of UCL has been received negatively; in 2005 UCL became properly established as 'UCL', whilst it had previously been known as University College London. Times Higher Education reported that Lecturers at the time were unhappy that the University was spending 'hundreds of thousands of pounds on a rebranding exercise at a time when the college [was] facing 15 per cent staffing cuts.'

A recent survey by The Guardian found that staff morale at UCL is at an 'all time low', in which 68 per cent of staff surveyed disagreed that UCL was ‘well managed’, as The Tab reported in May.

Alex McKee, Head of Student Engagement & Communication, told us:

"It’s easy to equate a ‘rebrand’ with a new logo, but this view misses the point of a substantial project such as the one we’ve undertaken this year. We now have a much greater understanding of the needs of our members, and what our members want and expect of their Union. This research will go further than the development of a new brand and enable us design services and activities that will help our members get more from their time at UCL.

The rebranding project was allocated a budget of £70,000. The financing for this project has been taken from savings made in the Union’s marketing budget since the start of our financial year in August 2016. These savings have been made due to managerial and other staff vacancies as well as in-year cost saving, no extra money from elsewhere in the Union has been taken to fund this project. Included in this cost is a new website for the Union as well as a large-scale research project of our members and the development of a new visual and verbal identity. As with all projects of this size, a thorough tendering process took place to ensure we’re providing value for money to our members.

Students told us that they often confused UCL and UCLU, some didn’t know what UCLU was and many didn’t know that ran great things for students like clubs and societies and our StARs rep system. So, one element of our rebrand is to rename us as Students’ Union UCL. Most of the time we will just be called the Union, which is what many students already call us and we won’t be using an acronym anymore. We will be launching our new name and brand over the summer alongside our new website – something that is much needed! This is just the start of many great changes we are making to the Union and we are excited for our members to see the positive effect. "