PAM series #5: Where Marketing meets wayfinding

Universities are no stranger to the rebranding process. With most campuses undergoing a rebrand every six years, signage is often the element left behind. When you take into account individual faculty branding and naming, this can become even more impossible to handle. As a result, campuses are all to often left with old branded signage, incorrect names and a significant project on hand to fix it.

Knowing what you have on your signage, as we mentioned in week 1: Understanding your campus, is the first significant step toward success. Once this audit information is in, what does it mean to marketeers? They’re not wayfinders (typically), so signage is a small piece of a big pie.

When you start to consider your users and the reason for this signage, however, the role of marketing becomes hugely apparent. Student recruitment is a challenging battle across the world, and for most, the first experience of a potential university is an open day. These open days are exciting, busy and based on campus exploration. If the wayfinding that supports this isn’t encouraging exploration and interaction, marketing has lost a prime opportunity.

We instinctively look to signage to help us along a journey, and prospective students are no different. Where they vary, however, is the amount of attention they give these signs. While someone familiar with the space may quickly glance toward them, newcomers have enough time to take on some of the information.

For this reason, knowing your audience and your message can profoundly impact your wayfinding design. Reinforcing the brand message of aspiration, intelligence or exploration is achieved at every stage of the journey. More simple brand associations, like the brand colours, can be made even more quickly and passively when surrounded and supported by this signage.

A perfect example of this is, of course, the recent developments at UTS that the PAM system supported. Their distinctive yellow totems and signage system echoes throughout campus and provides support to visitors new and old.

Creating a smart campus is a future proofing brand move. If you support this by creating firm associations along the way – your wayfinding can be a source of truth and one of your most significant branding assets.

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