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Spy Studio give Goldsmiths Uni an expressive makeover

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Goldsmiths, the famous London University, has undertaken a major repositioning led by Spy Studio, which encourages the university to express itself through a bold and flexible graphic language. The studio was first brought in last year to carry out a brand audit, and this has led to a complete retooling of the university's brand in collaboration with their in-house design team. Everything from typefaces and colour palettes have been developed to create a new visual identity and tone of voice that, much like the institution itself, strives to be challenging, creative, visionary and empowering.

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Perhaps the most striking aspect of the rebranding are the three distinct and flexible typefaces chosen to represent the university. “Druk” comes in 22 different weights and cuts and can be used in place of illustrations or photographs, “Publico” is a serif font for body copy that comes in three weights and is best used in “Serious or sophisticated” circumstances, and “Grafik” can be used in body copy or on signage thanks to its legibility. They are all from the Commercial Type Foundry too, so there's a definite consistency to them. These fonts are already being experimented with in a series of “Welcome Week” posters inspired by classic socio-political designs, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Goldsmiths University has undertaken a major repositioning led by Spy Studio

Goldsmiths has also been commissioning a lot of photography and drawing on the large library of images it already owns in anticipation of the new guidelines being delivered. With the old positioning, it was difficult for prospective students to see beyond the core art subjects Goldsmiths is known for, but the new guidelines let other courses and subjects shine through. Spy Studio co-founder Ben Duckett said: “There are some great courses and departments like sociology, which don’t have the profile of art and music. The new guidelines help give strength and confidence to those departments.”

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Duckett said of the overall project: “The key was that Goldsmiths was prepared to stand by who they are while other universities tend to hedge their bets and go for lots of red because they think it shows gravitas. The new guidelines allow for gravitas but also for flexibility so Goldsmiths can show other messages.” Director of communications and campaigns at Goldsmiths, Liz Hutchinson, added: “Goldsmiths is a really special place with a very distinct personality. It is essential that our brand communicates that and reaches out to all our audiences in a compelling way, so they can understand who we are and what we stand for. Our brand now has the ability to change its tone depending on the situation and target audience; when it needs to be serious it can be, but it can also be bright and effervescent. Spy Studio has been instrumental in helping us achieve this.”

Three distinct and flexible typefaces have been chosen to represent the university

A new website is also being developed for the university by Numiko and Only, and has been informed by Spy Studio’s graphic language. Only was commissioned by Numiko to redesign the Goldsmiths site and adapt the new graphic language for the screen. Information has been mapped out so that it maximises the breadth of the new guidelines, while considering the message, who it is for, how it would be accessed and where it would be seen. Only said they used “Expressive elements for inspiring content, accessible and readable elements for informative content, and clear and oversized elements for signposting and calls to action.” It all makes for a very impressive package, and manages to revere the institution's history as a pillar of the art and design education scene in London, without coming across as staid or unapproachable.

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