A little while ago, I was asked to write a piece for Hubbub’s blog about our Click brand. Well, I say a little while ago, it’s probably been about 8 months now (sorry, Duncan). A delay caused primarily by life, work and a crippling Clash of Clans addiction, but also because I had no idea where to start. I’m a fundraiser, not a marketer, I don’t know why we are how we are; we just are!
It was only when I did a bit of research that I discovered that nothing of what is now Click happened by chance. But to get to that, we need to start from the very beginning.
So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Having no idea where to start, I needed expert help. I sat down with our Head of Brand Management at Essex, Claire Lindsay, to get a better idea of what brands are. She says:
“Institutions don’t have brands, they are brands. A brand is really just the values, culture, philosophy and approach that set one institution apart from another”
She went on to say that brands are not a motto or a logo, but the ‘thing itself’ – the intangible qualities that a customer attributes to a company, based on what they have heard, read or experienced. Claire and her team took the time to really think about what Essex is and how we communicate it, and this has been an important factor in the current success of our institution.
When the University of Essex was being built in 1963, our founding Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sir Albert Sloman, gave that year’s Reith Lectures, outlining his vision for a new University. In the years since, that vision inevitably fell by the wayside, until our current Vice-Chancellor, Prof Anthony Forster, joined the University five years ago. Under his leadership, a comprehensive exercise was undertaken to define what we mean when we say We Are Essex. The result was a new brand narrative – optimised by the ‘Essex Manifesto’:
Everything we are as an institution in less than 300 words. By being able to talk so succinctly, for the very first time, about who we are, brought so much clarity to our work, and really influenced the type of platform we wanted Click to be.
At the time of our brand exercise, we were operating an annual system of offering grants to student projects. I can remember thinking about this, and reading our manifesto, and concluding ‘this isn’t a good fit’. We tell our students that at Essex they won’t be ‘spoon-fed a degree’ so why are we just writing cheques for students projects?
Wouldn’t the whole process be much more ‘Essex’ if we let our bold, tenacious students loose on the world – out in the crowd showing how amazing the things they care about are, with us supporting and encouraging in the background? It’s what we call our ‘Essex Spirit’, and is one of the four pillars at the foundation of our institution. The four pillars are also at the foundation of Click, as each project on the site must represent at least one (and ideally more than one).
Our brand was one of a number of factors in creating Click. Even our distinctive yellow and black comes from the Essex student ‘colour palette’. The name Click came from somewhere very different though. People assume it refers to a mouse-click, but it’s more like a deliberate, written form of malapropism.
When we say ‘Click’ we are actually meaning ‘Clique’ – A branded piece of the internet that acts as a movement of people, always growing, spreading to all parts of the University and beyond, reaching further than simply an instrument of fundraising or student support. However, unlike a clique, Click is not exclusive – it is for every Essex member, and always strives to facilitate more people turning their ideas into reality.
Click never stops; it is always looking for the next project, the next group of students that want to start a business, or volunteer across the world, or take their plays to Edinburgh, or make their sports team or society better, or use their skills to make the world a better place. We’ve just hit our 50th successful project, in our 15th month of operation. And there is plenty more yet to come.
So as the banner says, “help is just a click away”:
Essex decided that the best way to meet these needs was with a branded crowdfunding platform (Click), supported and managed by the university itself.
Download the case study to see how Hubbub helped the University of Essex to quadruple their number of donors through:
Now, Collage time!