EXCLUSIVE: Everything ‘Us.’ hasn’t told us about the SUSU rebrand
SPOILER ALERT: Some of it is pretty creepy
The Soton Tab was sent the official new ‘Us.’ brand guidelines by an anonymous source. This 79 page document is full of all the do’s and dont’s of ‘Us.’. The rebrand – which started to be phased in yesterday – has caused uproar among students. Some claim it has been a complete waste of money, and yesterday a student recreated the logo in under two minutes.
The Soton Tab can now exclusively reveal that the ‘Us.’ logo will be used in eight different colour schemes:
The descriptions of these palettes is where the guidelines get really odd. A lot of the ‘colour palette’ section of the guidelines reads like a pseudo-scientific personality quiz. Readers are told “If you want to empower our students, red shows passion and strength” and that “Colour is an important part of our brand. With the use of colour you can communicate an emotion or feeling, a season or mood before a single word has been read.” Apparently, ‘pale navy’ (isn’t that just blue?) encourages trust and loyalty, whilst ‘burnt orange’ inspires courage and friendliness.
To some, the black and white signs seen on Building 40 and the Stag’s Head yesterday seemed very plain and simple. So whilst it might be alarming ‘Us.’ is trying to psychoanalyse students, at least there’ll (hopefully) be more colour on campus.
The guidelines go into extreme detail about the spacing of the logo and what fonts are allowed for each section of the logo. There are tonnes of variations used for each sub-category of the Students’ Union and all the organisations which come under the ‘Us.’ umbrella. The ‘Us.’ brand guidelines also go into insane detail on precisely how staff should behave, write and engage with social media. Their brilliant advice suggests pretending ‘Us.’ is a person and writing how he or she might speak, as well as referring to students as “you” – so we know we are being directly spoken to.
There are also very clear instructions on how not to handle complaints. ‘Us.’ tells its staff not to be defensive, take complaints personally, be passive aggressive or ignore them. As far as social media, the guidelines go through, platform by platform, detailing what is and isn’t acceptable on each one. Out-of-focus insta snaps are a definite no-go with ‘Us.’
SUSU has, in the past, been accused of being out-of-touch with students and having uncontrolled spending. Concerns about how much the rebranding cost have been raised repeatedly on social media. Rumours are rife, but SUSU insiders believe the move from SUSU to Us could cost as much as £29,000. SUSU also spent £1000 on referendum T-shirts in October which are now presumably useless.
The guidelines fail to address these concerns – instead suggesting ‘Us.’ stands out from other unions across the UK. The guidelines also state the union “chose to disaffiliate [themselves] from NUS – so that [they] could focus on what [they] know is the most important thing: enriching the lives of every student.”
The Soton Tab can also exclusively reveal the ‘Us.’ logo will have three variations;
These three variations are captioned with more strange reasons behind the rebrand choices; “We suggest using our strap line when unifying students – whether it’s for an important announcement, or to rally support for a specific cause. We use the descriptor to remind our students that ultimately, we are together.” It is interesting that an organisation so heavily criticised for not representing its members effectively has chosen to go with this strap line. Is ‘Us.’ going to be a move towards a more inclusive students’ union?
Alongside the strict guidelines and creepy pseudo-scientific comments, ‘Us.’ asks students to treat the logo with “a little respect” and avoid doing any “experiments” with it.
What ‘Us.’ calls “the mark” (the rest of us would call it the full stop in the logo) is set to feature heavily in any promotional material – and seems to be the one customizable element of the entire rebrand. But ‘Us.’ makes it clear that “the Mark is not a full stop, and therefore it cannot be replaced with any other form of punctuation”. There are mock-ups of societies, events and organisations using “the mark” on flyers.
‘Us.’ also asks we treat “the mark” with respect – and makes it clear to students that we are allowed to play with it but – like naughty kids – there are boundaries. Before designing your version of “the mark” ‘Us.’ asks: “is it fun? Is it innovative? Is it welcoming?” – answer no to any of those questions and maybe your flyer will be torn down before you pin it up.
Judging from the document and signs already on campus, The Stag’s Head is set to be renamed simply ‘The Stag’s’.
The guidelines are full of marketing jargon which makes for a cringeworthy read. ‘Us.’ talk about creating a “visual tone of voice” or how “the mark can stand alone – brave, bold and confident” as part of a campaign.
The new look has been praised for its cleaner and more simple look – but many students have argued it was not worth its cost. Some suggested running a competition at the Winchester School of Art might have been a cheaper way of rebranding, as well as giving students the opportunity to get involved with the Union.
Students are divided on the SUSU to Us. transition, and a petition started yesterday asking the union to abandon the rebrand has over 1000 signatures.