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King's rebrand – update

Posted on 22/12/2014

We have received a strong response to our plans to refresh the King's brand. Thanks very much to all those who have taken the trouble to write. We value your opinions and have taken note of your views. It is important that the voice of all in the King's community, especially that of our students, is heard.

It is clear from the responses received that several misunderstandings have arisen. I would like to clarify matters.

1. There are no plans to change the formal name King's College London and there has never been any intention to do so. We are proud of our name and our heritage and would not seek to do anything to damage the reputation built up over nearly 200 years. King's London is designed to promote King's and its place in London and also the fact that we are one of the world's great universities in our own right.

2. We have consulted many people over the last three years but there are clearly many more voices seeking to be heard and we are listening.

3. KCLSU (King's College London Students' Union) has been consulted at each phase of the project, ensuring that the views of the student body have been incorporated throughout. The steering group that has run throughout the entirety of the project comprised senior management and two representatives from KCLSU. The current President of KCLSU, and his two immediate predecessors, attended Council meetings at which the brand plans were discussed at length.

4. The introduction of the new brand is an important part of our plans to consolidate King's position as one of the top 20 universities in the world. We are committed to enhancing the student experience and strengthening our presence in specific areas.

We are always happy to listen to the views of our staff, students and alumni and, given the strength of feeling generated by the feedback this week, we will continue to do so. We will come out and talk to our community again in January to continue the conversation. We will also update our FAQs regularly in an effort to answer any questions received by email.

We would like to reassure you that we are all working towards the same goal - that both current and future students have the best possible education during their time at King's and to ensure that King's continues to strengthen its position among the world's great universities. We are proud of our heritage and will do all we can to safeguard the future of our university.

Ian Creagh
Head of Administration and College Secretary

King’s College London brand review FAQs


1. What do we mean by ‘brand’?

  • A brand is a ‘promise of an experience’ and conveys to consumers a certain assurance as to the nature of the product or service they will receive (Intellectual Property Office Definition).
  • A brand is more than just a visual identity; it is about developing meaningful relationships with those who come into contact with an organisation.
  • A brand is what you build; a reputation is what you earn.

2. Why did we undertake a brand review?

Every institution should assess its brand and reputation and how people internally and externally perceive it from time to time. King’s is by its very nature a diverse institution involved in a wide range of activities and it does mean that sometimes we struggle to communicate who we are as an institution. Research we have undertaken shows that our reputation could be strengthened in the UK and internationally if we are clear about our purpose, our unique strengths and what we stand for, and highlight our successes more effectively.

3. What is proposed?

In light of recent feedback, we are listening and engaging and, we will not be pushing forward with a change in our promotional name to 'King's London' for the moment. We will be in consultation with staff, students and alumni in January 2015.

King’s College London will remain our legal name. We are developing a brand narrative to express what is different about King’s and what we want to be known for.

4. Why have we proposed to remove ‘College’ from our promotional name?

Our research found that our current name was causing considerable confusion with external audiences: prospective students in the UK were unclear whether King’s was an HE or FE institution and many had no idea of the size of King’s and its community; other audiences thought that ‘College’ meant that King’s was a small institution that offered primarily vocational training.

Internationally, there was further misunderstanding as ‘College’ is not a widely understood term in many countries.  King’s College London is also often confused with institutions with similar names and for those not familiar with our university it was felt that this lack of clarity was damaging.

5. Why are we not changing our legal name?

The abbreviation to ‘King’s London’ would provide us with clearer differentiation and distinction for the university – both nationally and internationally. This can be achieved without having to change our legal name, which would require approval from the Privy Council.

6. How have people been consulted about the review?

We conducted qualitative market research with external audiences to help identify the attitudes, expectations and emotional responses to specific brand proposals. Internally, we consulted all students and staff through a web survey. We also conducted focus groups with staff, current students, prospective students and parents, KCLSU, alumni and international agents and advisers. This research and feedback has shaped our thinking.

7. How will this benefit the university?

The overarching aim of the review is to strengthen our brand and reputation and positive perceptions of the university among the diverse communities with which we engage. The benefits will include being a destination of choice for the best staff, students and academics.

8. Why now at a time of financial constraint across the sector?

Changes in the external environment over the last few years, such as rising tuition fees and the globalisation of higher education, mean that we are operating in a highly competitive marketplace. We are competing to attract the best students, academics, staff and research funding. Being able to articulate, communicate and be judged by what makes us stand out from our competitors will allow us to continue to attract the very best.

9. What was the process of gaining approval for the new promotional name?

The conclusions of the research were presented to College Council earlier this year and were positively received. Council formally approved the new visual identity and the change of our promotional name to ‘King’s London’.

10. When is the change going to happen?

There will be a period of further consultation and discussion in January. We will inform you of the timings once they have been agreed.

11. Does this mean that we are going to get a new logo?

A new logo is proposed as we do need to have a consistent visual look across the university that amplifies our voice and celebrates our achievements.

Research has shown that our current visual identity doesn’t work hard enough for King’s in today’s tough competitive environment with low stand-out and resonance, particularly for younger undergraduates and prospective students. The need to refresh the visual identity was advocated by all groups interviewed; the common view was that the personality being portrayed by King’s was too restrained and looked dated in comparison with its more assertive London competitors. We will review the logo change after the consultation period in January 2015.

12. When can I see the new brand plans?

The new plans for brand are under review and we will update you on its progress after consultation has taken place

13. Where can I get guidance on how to implement the brand?

At present we are still working through all the technical elements providing guidelines – as there are a number of diverse areas that we need to cover which will help provide this guidance. This will be available from February.   You can contact us with any further questions at brand@kcl.ac.uk.

14. What do I need to include on my citations?

You should continue to use ‘King’s College London’, the legal name of the university.

15. Will the URL for the website and our email addresses be changing?

For the moment, the website will remain as www.kcl.ac.uk and our emails firstname.lastname@kcl.ac.uk. This may eventually change as part of the wider review of the website.

16. My department/faculty/centre has a custom-designed logo? Can we keep using it?

No. It is important to reinforce to external audiences that we are all part of King’s.  If you need further advice, please contact us at: brand@kcl.ac.uk and we will be happy to help you transition to the new brand.

17. How does the new brand affect me?

The new brand aims to improve the experience that every person has when coming into contact with King’s and the research and development that took  place as part of the brand review has resulted in us being clearer about the improvements we would like to make. We hope that this and the wider measures in place will help improve the experience you have whilst studying and working at King’s. From improved way-finding signage to more coherent navigation across the website over the medium term, the new brand signals a wider cultural change that is happening across the university as we seek to respond to feedback from our community.

18. Will this affect my chance of getting a job?

No, the reason for introducing the new brand is to build on the strengths of King’s for the benefit of everyone. Throughout our consultation we were frequently told that King’s doesn’t have the presence it deserves, and this is due to its weakness in profile and reputation. By building our profile and reputation, employers’ perceptions of King’s will be strengthened.

19. Will the new brand mean my degree comes from an institution with a different name from the one I that joined?

No. The legal name of the institution is not changing, so your degree certificate will still say ‘King’s College London’.

20. Couldn’t the money have been better spent on teaching, research or bursaries instead?

The Council of the university has prioritised strengthening the reputation and profile of King’s in a highly competitive national and international higher education sector. We need to enhance our reputation and highlight our many achievements more consistently to attract the best students, staff and research and funding partners. Investment is being made across King’s to improve the institution on many levels and position it to take its rightful place as a top 20 global university.

21. Does this mean that KCLSU will be changing its name?

KCLSU is currently in consultation on whether it retains its current name and what options are available should it decide to change its name.

22. What about GKT?

There is considerable heritage within GKT that needs to remain, which needs to be balanced and will be reviewed after January’s consultation period.

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