A university has won a major design award after a rebranding exercise resulted in a 30 per cent increase in undergraduate applications.

The University of Sussex overcame competition from household brands at The Design Business Association's Design Effectiveness Awards in London.

Mobile phone giant 02, whisky makers Chivas Brothers and Vueling Airlines all came second to the university in the corporate brand identity category.

The rebranding was designed to draw people into the University with questions and initiations based around a new US logo such as "join US", "why US?" and "discover US".

The logo replaced the old Sussex coat of arms. All corporate and promotional materials, including the prospectuses and web site, were subject to a radical redesign.

The new look was rolled out in March 2004, following consultation with staff, students and collaboration between the University's branding team and design consultants Blast.

By February 2005 undergraduate applications had increased by 22.7 per cent - more than three times the national average of 8.9 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.

University of Sussex vice chancellor, professor Alasdair Smith, said: "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."

Raymond Turner, former group design director at BAA and chair of the judging panel said the university's new brand was "being lived by staff and students alike".

Design Effectiveness Awards projects are assessed on commercial performance and are judged by senior industry figures.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005