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Centre for Graduate Prospects

Within the University of Sunderland and the newly established Centre for Graduate Prospects, I was tasked with reviewing the effectiveness of established Sunderland Futures and other branding and identify a revised marketing, communication, and engagement approach to engage key CfGP stakeholders.

Sunderland Futures incorporated careers-related advice, support, employability opportunities and more within the University of Sunderland but this did not include Enterprise and Internships / Placements which were being managed by alternative parties within the university.

From research and feedback, the Sunderland Futures brand has been described as a separate entity from the university with the way it had been integrated, thus partially due to the lack of integration within academic courses.

Sunderland Futures brand identity

The brand itself is based on the idea of the paper plane pointing forward with the focus on the ‘futures’.

The brand itself began with use of green and a colourful ident but over time, the green has been dropped in favour of a sky blue (Pantone 564C) and a full bodied blue (Pantone 3125C). This unofficial brand change has happened natively without an instant switch. Alongside this, the typeface which has been used has switched from the originally proposed font Klampenborg to League Spartan Bold. The best guess for this is due to the availability of League Spartan Bold on the internet and systems like Canva compared to Klampenborg.

Sunderland Futures design

This adaptation of the brand leads to the idea that the overall idea of Sunderland Futures having a brand isn’t a strong argument due to no formal guidelines used throughout the service, this becomes clear when reviewing the socials.

The university’s main mission is:

Be bold and inspirational in providing education, research and creative practice, which offers transformative experiences to students, staff, communities and business partners in the UK and across the world.

This is where the idea of the ‘spark’ comes in which is the name of the orange icon.

Though this is not to be used on it’s own, the element itself allows for connotations and allows for a theme to be presented bringing the idea of the spark into the wording and the visual elements we produce to reinforce this message.

Visual Design Process

Initial designs which incorporated the university’s ‘spark’ icon. Ultimately was rejected for bastardising the logo as well as going against the brand guidelines.

This lead to using the concept of the spark, the visual meaning of it and then trying to pull in the main message in this space.

What is a spark?

Just as a spark ignites a fire, an individual’s career spark ignites their passion, curiosity, and potential, fueling their employability and entrepreneurial journey. This spark serves as a guiding light, illuminating their path towards a fulfilling and meaningful professional life.

As individuals nurture their spark, they cultivate their skills, knowledge, and experiences, becoming more employable and attractive to potential employers. Their passion and enthusiasm resonate, making them stand out in the competitive job market.

Moreover, the spark can ignite an entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring individuals to pursue their own ventures and create their own opportunities. Their passion, creativity, and drive fuel their entrepreneurial endeavours, leading them to innovate, disrupt industries, and make significant contributions to the world.

In essence, an individual’s career spark is the catalyst for their employability and entrepreneurial success. It is the driving force behind their professional aspirations, enabling them to navigate the world of work with passion, purpose, and resilience.

What makes up the university design spark?

The spark has 4 branches, when it comes to designs, these are orange, pink, green and blue each with their designated meanings. Orange is the overarching identity, with pink, green and blue representing specific stages of the student/graduate spark journey.

Headline Visual Identity

The top-level identity consists of the orange spark (Orange hex value: #ee7711). It’s bright, vibrant and sparky applied to a dark background. This is to fit with the university’s main orange brand colour.

This spark should be used to promote the centre and the Employability and Enterprise Hubs as a whole as well as topics that relate to the centre itself, for example, the EE hubs.

Discover Visual Identity

Discovery marks the initial steps for students as they embark on a journey. During this phase, they seek support and guidance from professionals within the Centre to explore various routes and avenues.

Discover consists of a pink spark to reference the nurturing and compassion aspect we have for students as well as evoke the idea of excitement and playfulness to make them interested in developing their professional lives. The spark used here is not a thick spark to indicate the initial glow.

Ignite Visual Identity

Students in this phase are actively working towards improving their skills, gaining experiences, or progressing along their chosen career path. It’s a time when goals become clear, and determination fuels intentional steps to launch their professional journey.

The ignite stage consists of a lime green spark to reference the energy and creativity around working towards their chosen path. With the conference reinforcing these elements to ensure they’re pursuing the right path, the spark itself has grown from pink to shine more, to be slightly thicker, and more rounded but also to the point.

Showcase Visual Identity

Confidence is high, and students are poised to demonstrate and clearly articulate their refined skills and accumulated experiences. This could be through participating in an experience internally or securing employment externally.

In this final stage of the spark identity, the blue spark reinforces calmness and trust. All of this is reinforced by the security and optimism that relates to a vibrant blue. In the sense of the spark, this spark is the thickest and brightest to show the high levels of confidence and knowledge at this stage.

See the spark used on socials or visit the Centre for Graduate Propsect’s website for more information. If you have any questions or would like more information how I can add some spark to your design and marketing, contact me today.