Branding for an expansion can be challenging in the shadow of an established legacy. However, the solution may exist with the slightest reminder of its roots while allowing modern values to take hold.
The Education Sector’s Elite
Backed by the Aditya Birla Group, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) is a private university known for its high standard of education in science, engineering and research. Expanding the scope of their model into business education, BITSoM (BITS School of Management) aims to offer a two-year program at par with the leading business schools in the world.
Vyas Giannetti Creative (VGC) was tasked with developing a brand identity that needed to carefully tread the line of developing modern branding while not losing its identity into the parent establishment. The agency facilitated strategic positioning, brand identity, communication tone and voice, and digital marketing.
Positioning and Identity
According to VGC, their research exercise went beyond regular market and competition analysis and involved speaking to students, faculty, recruiters and exam administering bodies from all over the world. The study helped ascertain the ideal position to attract contemporary students – a preference for branding inspired by heritage but made room for modern values.
The resulting identity is an inspiring combination of symbolism and herald-style elements akin to a kingdom banner or a family crest from medieval times.
VGC’s choice of symbols for BITSoM are “the Tiger – representative of India, leadership, agility & vision, and the Sun – representative of new beginnings, a fresh approach, the origin & energy. The brand identity collectively represents BITSoM’s origins, its global outlook, future-focus and emphasis on moulding next-gen leaders for a new age world.”
Viewed as a case study, the branding does an admirable job to instil the ivy-league look and feel associated with many top-tier schools without falling into the rut of a bland or overly conventional style. The rich colour palettes combined with the playful abstract motifs, which are distilled from the main logo, augment regular (and often buzz word heavy) signage resulting in what we are sure will be a pleasant campus experience.
The balance of classic and abstract is particularly noticeable in their concepts for stationery and accessories. The motifs play their part to keep the personal items visually engaging. Any potentially outward-facing, like letters, a briefcase or a lapel pin, maintains a bold yet elegant statement that spells professional.
Communication and Design
For their launch campaign, VGC aimed to help BITSoM develop a unique voice in the education sector during the process of highlighting their USPs. These campaigns used both digital and traditional media to deploy any relevant communication.
Due to the advantage of a striking brand identity, it would be difficult to miss any promotional material. Still, there seems to be a heavy reliance on specific tropes associated with business and finance. While still relevant and effective, one could argue that an opportunity to break new ground has been missed.
The sans-serif typefaces from the logo are replaced with classic newspaper style serif fonts for call outs and headings that highlight the regular fare of motivational and professional statements. While these may still be conceptual, the voice of communication currently stays on the safe path of a call to action for the agile, hungry, change-making leaders of tomorrow.
The double-exposure photography used is an engaging visual element but tends to feature the same corporate aligned themes that exist even in related sectors, thereby functioning only as a “set piece” instead of an extension to the BITSoM style. One creative, showcasing a typical day at the institute, uses an illustration that feels more relevant to the content in a playful way. However, would a custom series of illustrations or images based on the brand identity have helped establish a unique look? Potentially.
There is no doubt that the prestige of the BITS brand and VGC’s contribution to its new identity will help BITSoM stand out in a crowd. For a sector inundated with very rigid ideals, this creative development process has resulted in a fresh and striking look.