Universities need to learn how to present themselves…

How can universities demonstrate their value to the wider public?

Universities have never been in the public eye so much. The research “impact agenda” is posing tough questions about the relevance of university research. The huge hike in student fees is creating intense scrutiny of what “quality” and “value for money” look like in relation to the curriculum. The shift from public to private funding is raising profound questions about the public role of the university. Emerging areas of research – such as GM or nanotechnology – continue to provoke concern in society at large. And the 2009 Climategate scandal has demonstrated how exposed and vulnerable universities are to external challenge.

Meanwhile, Universities UK research last year showed that fewer than one in five people appreciated universities’ wider social impact.

How should universities respond to this intense external and political interest, and the sometimes profound misunderstanding or ignorance about their purposes and value?

First, there are three things that universities should not do:

• Fight among ourselves. Too often when higher education is represented in the media, it is mission groups scoring points off each other.

• Make empty promises: crafting magnificent rhetorical flourishes in mission statements is a safe place to hide, but is unlikely to address the legitimate concerns or interests society has in university work.

• Hope that simple proxies of impact – such as trumpeting the economic return that universities generate – are enough to make the case for our value, or make the problem go away. There are no magic bullets.

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Academic Digital

Martin Kemp: Christ to Coke

This book looks really interesting, and I’m interested that there’s a disclaimer about Coke, who are clearly more to be feared as power, rather than the Church – says much…

Instead of an epigraph, Christ to Coke carries a disclaimer: “This book has not been approved by or endorsed by The Coca-Cola Company or any other company, and any views expressed in it are those of the author and not The Coca-Cola Company or any other company. Coca-Cola, Coke, and the Coca-Cola bottle are trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company.”

Given the subject of the book, it is tempting to read that deadpan declaration as an ironic commentary on image-making and branding – the iconic only a consonant away from the ironic – and a coca-corroboration of the author’s selection. Martin Kemp has interesting things to say about trademarks, which come in many guises, including people, or rather portraits: the shock-haired Einstein is himself a trademark. In the matter of Coca-Cola, it transpires that the soft drink’s logo gained trademark status as early as 1887. “It has been reused, adapted, and parodied in diverse contexts around the world,” Kemp relates, “exhibiting extraordinary geographical penetration and historical stamina.” One of the most apt illustrations in this copiously illustrated book is of Ai Weiwei’s Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo (1994).

Kemp has selected 11 “supreme and mega-famous examples”, in the deathless prose of the dust jacket, “to see both how they arose and how they continue to exercise their enduring appeal”. They are widely gathered: Christ (“The true icon”); the Cross; the Heart; the Lion; the Mona Lisa; Che Guevara; Nick Ut’s photograph of the little girl running screaming down the road in Vietnam (“Napalmed and naked”); the Stars and Stripes; the Coke bottle; the DNA double helix; and the equation E = mc2. This is a highly personal selection. Christ to Coke is an effortfully personal book.

Read full story, and see also this story.


8 Colour Tips for Your Brand

colourtipsBrand color? The colors that represent your company reflect upon your brand. Consumers subconsciously react to certain colors in many different ways. Your brand is your promise/message and until they have reason not to, consumers should trust that message. Right? There sometimes are a myriad of factors that affect why or why not a consumer trusts a company but one that goes overlooked is the colors chosen to support the branding.  We know that a name has a LOT to do with how consumers perceive a company. If they can pronounce it, remember it by relating to it then they repeat it (whether this be positive or negative). In small business branding or or even with a big company unveiling a new product, many times the best or worst name represented in the appealing colors and the name takes on new meaning.

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I have always found the psychology of colour a fascinating study, and in the 2001-2002 Web Design/Usability project produced the following information:

Colour has certain cultural associations, and it is worth bearing these in mind whilst designing a site, as the use of appropriate colours will affect the way that the site is perceived. Cultural associations of colour are particularly important to remember if aiming at an international audience. For instance the Chinese use white instead of black during funerals because they associate white with the winter time in which nature is dead as well.

In the western world these colour associations are largely perceived as:

Colour Associations