The University of Melbourne Brand


  • HIVE Creative


Research showed that the University of Melbourne brand is the key driver of choice for prospective students, staff, partners and collaborators. Their brand is their most important asset and unfortunately, the application of it was not living up to their world-class reputation. The existing brand architecture and visual identity were not providing enough flexibility for stakeholders across the university to speak to their diverse audiences. This resulted in them applying brand loosely or not at all. University Senior Management engaged Hive to conduct research in order to devise an appropriate brand architecture, and refresh the University’s visual identity.

Key Features


Hive engaged a multitude of stakeholders and representatives across the university and worked with the project steering committee and the executive team to deliver a brand system that supports individual outcomes, while ensuring a sustained investment in master brand equity. The new system places an emphasis on consistent application of the University of Melbourne logo and colour palette, in order to ensure a strong master brand presence. It is also flexible enough to speak to a variety of audiences, from science to performing arts, from business partners to student performers.


Within a complex ecosystem, the key to this brand uptake was the creation of effective brand tools and manageable brand rules. The new brand identification system allows everyone to benefit from master brand, while clearly distinguishing individual entities. The design system provides templates that make great results easy to achieve, while empowering professional designers to craft beautiful and bespoke outcomes. Since the brand launch in January 2018, we have been seeing an enthusiastic adoption of the brand system, which is gradually rolling out across the University and all its campuses.


During this design process, the University has realised the importance of appointing caretakers for their brand. This role is now being performed by the Brand Team, who are the key contact for brand-related advice. Taking their duty to inform and inspire quite seriously, they’ve implemented a regular EDM of tools and tips to help staff use the brand system in a more effective way. They also maintain the University Brand Hub, a living repository for all the brand guidelines, templates, and logos across print and digital.


This project was much more than simply a brand refresh. It involved really understanding how the organisation operates and what they require in order to communicate with their key audiences. This led to completely rethinking the entire brand architecture and its impact on brand tools, day-to-day collateral and communications, through to long and short-term campaigns.

Brand tools were then designed to support this architecture across print and digital. A digital design system was developed to deliver a flexible, component-based design framework. We also designed an extensive system to support the creation of signage and way-finding across the University.


1. Unity
Consistent use of logo, colour palette, typefaces, and tone of voice aim to bring disparate disciplines and interests within one unified identity.

2. Flexibility
Options in layout, pattern, image selection and treatment, and use of type aim to introduce enough flexibility to create communications that are appropriate to communicate with a wide range of audiences, whether these are external or internal, student or professional, from any discipline. This is vital as the University not only provides education to students, but engages with the wider community, whether this is stimulating innovation in business or enriching their lives through the arts, as well as being leaders in research across a wide range of fields.

3. Approachability
In terms of aesthetic, it was very important to the University to maintain the feeling that they are an elite, world-class institution. At the same time, they did not want to project an image of being elitist. When designing the visual brand tools, we were careful to keep the aesthetic clean and sophisticated, yet contemporary and approachable.

4. Practicality
With such a large organisation, it is neither economically or technically practical to expect everyone to have access to expensive custom typefaces. We therefore made our type selection from freely available Google Fonts so that they are available to anyone at any time on any system.

5. Brand video
A video was created to introduce university staff to the new brand. Articulating the shift from elitist to elite, the video features staff members representing the breadth of the university, from senior management to security, to honestly advocate for the new brand.

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Youtube / Vimeo

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