Our work for UCD

BFK have a long association with UCD having developed brand identities for The Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business and the Quinn School of Business in 2000 and 2001. We were again retained by UCD for two key projects: the UCD master brand, and the creation and implementation of a new recruitment communications strategy targeted at 16 and 17 year-olds.

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UCD master brand

UCD, traditionally identified as Ireland’s largest university, was implementing a long-term strategy for change with the aim of becoming (and being seen to be) the leading academic university in Ireland and one of the top universities in Europe. 

As part of this change programme under the leadership of President Hugh Brady the traditional faculty structure was replaced with a new system of colleges and schools.

Previously, UCD had no single identity or master brand and there was no implemented brand identity system. The UCD crest, a 1940’s variation of the original crest granted to the University in 1911, was meaningless, unidentifiable and clichéd, research said. Each unit within the university created its own identity. In all there were 70 different identities for faculties, departments and research units.
Recognising that positioning is all important in the increasingly competitive world of third-level education UCD decided, as part of a strategic planning and change process, that it needed to develop a new single master brand to better reflect its scope and to reinforce its strengths in terms of academic excellence and national significance.

The project

Our project was to advise on and develop a new single brand for the university. The new brand system would replace the existing stand-alone brands (such as the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, the Conway Institute and others), which would now come under the UCD master brand. We recommended that the solution needed a brand hierarchy reflecting a strong central brand, and identifying the relative positions of the colleges, schools, main and smaller research centres.

Objectives and commercial targets

The objectives set for the new brand were to build on the established equity in the UCD name and on its history and culture while:

  • Bringing to mind values such as strong, successful, innovative, progressive, ground breaking and influential.  
  • Engaging various stakeholders and portraying a strong sense of pride in UCD among staff, students and graduates.  
  • Reflecting the reality that is UCD—a mature campus with excellent social facilities, a new educational experience for students and ambitious research goals; a university that participates in national strategy initiatives in education and beyond, and that has good links with business and industry which are put to use for their mutual benefit.
  • Projecting UCD as a leader in third level education internationally. 


Our designers created a new brand mark with a distinctive asymmetric shape, inspired by the former crest but using strong and powerful imagery to work more effectively as a marketing device across all media. This reflects a forward-looking confidence while including iconic images representing the university’s heritage and influence.

In addition to the brand mark we created a comprehensive master brand architecture to accommodate the new internal structure. The needs of colleges, schools and research institutes were accommodated under this single master brand system. 

The project also included the development of comprehensive brand identity guidelines. These cover the use of the brand mark itself, colour palette, typography, unit naming and the application of the system to printed and digital collateral. 

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Just one year into its application the new UCD brand identity had already begun to meet the stated objectives internally and externally as part of a strong brand strategy.

Internally the implementation of one master brand identity refocused attention among faculty and staff. It generated a new imperative for cohesion within the university, an awareness that all work together for a single entity rather than for 70 semi-autonomous units. 

Externally the new brand identity increased brand awareness through its prominent use as a core element of all marketing and advertising. The strength of the identity has also added value to media exposure and international peer recognition.

The brand identity forms the core of undergraduate student recruitment and resulted in a measurable positive impact in first preference CAO applications.

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