Strengthening how we promote UNSW with future students

13 Jun 2019
UNSW Brand Lab session, featuring Sofia Lloyd-Jones, Fiona Docherty and Darren Goodsir, along with Re

An update on the UNSW Brand Project from Fiona Docherty, Vice President External Relations.

If you have been in the lower ground floor of the Chancellery recently you will have noticed a new Lab has opened its doors – researching what future students think of UNSW. This ‘UNSW Open Brand Lab’ is the brainchild of our new Chief Marketing Officer, Sofia Lloyd-Jones and External Relations’ Head of Strategy and Campaigns, Livia McKenzie.

The Lab is operating in collaboration with the respected brand agency, Re (part of the M&C Saatchi network). The aim is to provide us with new insights into what future students think about UNSW, in turn helping us provide these students with a clearer picture of what it’s like to study at UNSW.

The project is grounded in a significant survey of 5,500 people across seven countries. We talked with school leavers, current students, alumni, prospective undergrads and postgrads as well as academics. We asked them what they thought of UNSW. The feedback was remarkably consistent. UNSW is highly respected, with words such as ‘accomplished’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘future focused’ used to describe our community.

We also asked people to compare UNSW with the other Group of 8 universities and two distinct clusters emerged. Melbourne, Sydney and ANU were seen as leaders in the area of academic excellence, whereas Adelaide, UQ and UWA were viewed as more open and vibrant.

UNSW carved its own niche. We were seen as an established, academically strong university…but one that is also diverse, open and inclusive. This set us apart in people’s minds and feels like a genuinely strong platform to build upon and a foundation that is consistent with our 2025 strategy.

Since the initial research, the Open Brand Lab has been busy testing these ideas further with our own students and staff, and again the feedback was remarkably aligned.

People celebrate the fact that we are so diverse – not just in terms of who we are but the way we think. We create opportunities to collaborate across disciplines, resulting in innovative teaching and research. There is immense pride in our founding principles. We are a university that sets the bar high in terms of academic excellence; and a community that recognises that our true value ultimately comes from the application or translation of that knowledge for the benefit of the community around us – whether that’s in Sydney, in Australia, or in our region of the world and beyond.

The ‘discovery’ phase of our research is coming to an end and the team in the Open Brand Lab are focused on creating a very simple framework to steer our future student recruitment activities. Once agreed, this will help guide work such as the design and development of student recruitment advertising campaigns, student prospectuses, events like Open Day and key areas of our website where students glean important information about UNSW.

The next phase of the project will explore how we tell the UNSW story across key discipline areas, from health to human rights; design to big data. What makes each of our Faculties so special in students’ minds and can we sharpen our ‘point of difference’? We will be drawing on the experience of a diverse group of academic and professional staff to help guide this next step.

If you would like to get involved as we broaden out the project, please join our Yammer group or email me for more information: