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The campus that springs up from the page

Sponsored: Building brand via the campus - and the power that augmented reality brings

Posted by Julian Owen | March 11, 2018 | Technology

Along with its people, it is a university’s spaces that make it unique. How a campus is experienced in person (and remotely) is core to an applicant’s decision to apply to a particular university. This is a challenge for marketing departments but it also puts pressure on estates to perform from a brand perspective. Despite this, it is rare that brand – beyond signage alone –  is used to reinforce a university’s offer via the campus itself. 

Untapped brand potential

Directional signage and labelling of facilities, along with some larger-scale wall graphics tend to be the mainstay of a brand’s presence on site. Whilst these elements can be designed to be bold, on-brand and consistent, they do little to genuinely add to the brand experience. 

A university’s proposition – and everything it stands for – should run right the way through the experience that the university provides. There is a real opportunity here for estates and facilities departments to work hand-in-hand with marketing to produce a truly unique brand asset out of the campus itself. 

Utilising technology in inventive ways could make the activity that is happening within the university visible to the local community, for instance. Physical aspects of the campus can become platforms for evidencing achievements or provide new forms of interaction that link with the outside world and capture audiences imaginations.

We’ve enjoyed exploring the potential of this kind of thinking via stakeholder workshops that have brought architects and designers together with estates and marketing teams. Combining these perspectives has produced some very exciting ideas indeed and I’d encourage others to do the same.

Campus at the heart of a brand

We recently helped AUB (Arts University Bournemouth) update its brand proposition, to reflect the strength of its campus. Putting a ‘sense of place’ at the heart of its brand and communications became a key focus across print and digital collateral.

Their flagship print publications (including their House of Cards prospectus) were written and designed to reflect the personality of the campus and its creative community, but we were keen to be able to share this sense of place in an immersive way too. So, working closely with AUB’s marketing team, we set about creating an augmented reality campus that would literally spring to life from the cover of their prospectus. 

Augmented reality

Smartphone leaders are investing heavily in AR. The growing capabilities of this technology offers users the ability to experience environments remotely from their device. Seizing on this opportunity, we built AUB AR – an app for AUB to share its campus with the world – which launches in March 2018. As well as allowing users to experience the campus remotely, through an animated campus and 360-degree imagery, the app contains a wealth of content to provide viewers with additional information on studying at AUB. 

It was important that moments of delight (such as seeing animated characters walking through the campus) were included to prolong engagement and encourage sharing. 

A strategic tool

AUB AR has given the University a way to provide prospective students with an immersive insight into their campus beyond a typical off-the-shelf virtual Open Day. The app is used at events as a powerful recruitment tool; firstly to draw inquisitive prospective applicants towards AUB’s stand and secondly to increase dwell time and conversations around campus and facilities. 

Whilst it is inarguable that augmented reality provides an element of novelty simply because it is ‘new’, the app has been designed to act as a key strategic brand asset that can grow over time, provide additional information and event-based content as well as the chance to offer new opportunities and surprises to engage audiences in the future.

Bond & Coyne is a brand design agency working in the HE, charity and not-for-profit sectors. It was founded on the belief that design should be based on strategy-led problem-solving so that the results are fit-for-purpose as well as beautiful. AUB AR will be available on both the App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android devices.

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