#5 Winter 2016

What’s in a brand?

What's in a brand

The GSB has updated its corporate identity in line with the changing needs of its market. Business Review chatted to Saskia Hickey, market intelligence and strategy manager at the GSB, about the thinking behind the new look and where the school is moving on the marketing front.

BR: Why the new look? What prompted you to call for a rebranding of the school?

Saskia: A couple of reasons. First the world of work is shifting and the GSB has shifted too – in a very real sense it is in fact driving the change. It is logical therefore that our visual representation in the world also needs to adapt. It is very rare that a brand can successfully withstand the passage of time with aesthetic standards constantly shifting. Changes in your target audience’s aesthetic preferences over time mean what looked modern yesterday may look old fashioned tomorrow.

Secondly, we talked to a range of stakeholders over the past two years, through a brand audit and corporate survey, and had a series of long conversations with our internal stakeholders and they gave us important feedback that we needed a stronger positioning in the market – one that emphasised our unique role as a provider of innovative business solutions to business in South Africa and on the continent. In the past seven years or so, the GSB has really moved into the space of innovation with initiatives such as the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Solution Space as well as the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation really embodying this new spirit in the school. It was time that our Corporate Identity evolved to support this more fully. We needed to communicate the structural and positioning change of the school to the public, staff and to consumers and without rebranding it can be difficult for people to perceive that anything has changed in the organisation and what it offers.

BR: So tell us a bit about the thinking behind the new look.

Saskia: We believe that the GSB has an inspiring story to tell. In a world of constrained resources and overwhelming challenges, we want to be the business education partner to those brave businesses who are giving the innovative idea the space to pioneer sustainable solutions. Graduating from the GSB is the tipping point for many who then go into the world to influence business for the better. We are saying that the GSB is a place where the thinking that changes the business that changes the world is born and we want the GSB to continue to be a place fertile for those ideas that go on to fundamentally change the game.

You will see in the new logo that we have emphasised the word ‘business’ more than in previous renditions. And while we have kept the link to the UCT crest – which is a crucial part of who we are i.e. a place of unrivalled academic excellence – we have modernised that. And also brought out the letters GSB – again to support what is already a fact in the market, that we are known to most of our stakeholders as ‘the GSB’. We have kept our tagline of ‘full colour thinking’ as it has come to be intimately bound up with what we do at the school, which is to challenge taken for granted assumptions and train our students to draw on a full spectrum of ideas, cultures and disciplines in the pursuit of better business options, and we have updated that visually to support the new branding.

BR: The new logo is the most visual aspect of the change – but what other elements of the new marketing campaign should people know about?

Saskia: Yes, the rebranding goes hand in hand with a general repositioning of the GSB in the marketplace. Very importantly – we needed a marketing strategy that was more digitally focused – as that is where 90% of our market spends its time and gets its information. So much of the new marketing focus is on enhancing our presence in the digital space. This is not as simple as having an active Twitter account (though that is important), it requires an integrated approach that spans content, social media, website and advertising. Very excitingly, we are currently working on a whole new website that will be much more flexible and better optimised for search. People will see that the site will also become a lot more active as we create more relevant content and resources to reflect the intellectual capital of the school and to allow it to become more accessible, more useful, to the world. So watch this space. There are exciting developments in the pipeline.

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