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​UBC Digital Agency of Record

University of British Columbia

A prestigious, century-old university works with OXD to deliver the next generation of digital communications.

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Consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is Vancouver’s global centre for research and teaching. Their Brand & Marketing department is responsible for promoting UBC’s vision of inspiring people, ideas, and actions for a better world.

Since December 2016, OXD has been the Digital Agency of Record for UBC Brand & Marketing, offering guidance and strategic web design services for a broad portfolio of properties.

OXD brings brand expertise, user research methods, software development, and a flexible approach to round out an already-stellar client team. Find out how we help UBC broaden their communication design capabilities.

A complex, established organization that needed to move fast

When legacy, brand, and governance collide.

When they first approached OXD, the UBC Brand & Marketing department had already been stewards of the University’s over 100 years of brand equity—an awesome responsibility.

But they couldn’t rely on that legacy alone to be effective in their role. In a crowded marketplace competing for students, faculty, and funding, they had to constantly prove and reprove the value of that brand. Balancing organizational unity with the autonomy of dozens of departments and faculties—each with their own utility, purpose, and audience—UBC Brand & Marketing had to educate internally while inspiring externally to ensure that the University’s brand promise was delivered and expressed consistently. And as if things weren’t complex enough, they were doing this in a constantly-shifting technology landscape.

UBC needed a partner that could unlock their own vision and potential.

A small team with limited bandwidth, UBC Brand & Marketing needed a digital partner who understood the value of brand guardianship, liaised with the UBC technical department, augmented and enhanced their in-house team’s capabilities, all while designing user-centric websites that met the needs of their many audiences.

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OXD works like peer-practitioners to augment and expand client capability

Audience Research

For organizations looking to optimize their communications and build consensus around the priorities of their initiatives, understanding—and agreeing on—the audiences with whom they communicate is critical. What are their audiences’ needs? What are their interests? Their preferred channels? OXD ran cross-team workshops with UBC to quickly form the answers to these questions and then validated the research through audience surveys.

Co-Design

When an organization has to move fast, they need a partner that can work flexibly and collaboratively, not “wow” them with unveilings and presentations. Over the course of numerous web projects with UBC, we always began by identifying the area of greatest risk and then running a collaborative workshop made up of UBC and OXD team members. These intense co-design sessions rapidly generated ideas and solutions ready for further development. And because these solutions were generated in conjunction with UBC, we minimized the risk of moving in a direction that wouldn’t work for the organization.

UBC Strategic Plan information architecture
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Shared Brand Guardianship

Whether the project was a department website, an initiative microsite, or a cornerstone communication channel, having our brand experts share the guardianship of the UBC brand meant that the UBC could focus on business goals and delivery, knowing that our visual solutions would meet their Look & Feel guidelines.

Flexible Project Approach

Limited time or budgets often call for creative and flexible approaches to projects to get the job done. With UBC we were able to deliver on some tough deadlines by turning traditional project approaches upside down, making sure that UX, visual design, and development worked concurrently and closely together. Even the services and roles we provided for each project modulated to adapt to the needs of the project.

DevOps

Our clients often ask us to work closely with their technology teams to either augment capabilities or share what we know. As Digital Agency of Record for UBC Brand & Marketing, we were tasked with helping set up dev environments, make technical architecture recommendations, support site deployments, and write documentation with the ultimate aim of making their team more self-sufficient.

Inspiring people, ideas, and action.

As Digital Agency of Record for UBC Brand & Marketing, we’ve helped deliver on key initiatives across the organization while building up team capabilities.

From the digital delivery of the University’s new Strategic Plan, to redesigning the UBC News website in a way that not only made it easier for Public Affairs to manage the content of the site, but also for media to find information, OXD has been a key part of the University’s vision to inspire people, ideas, and actions for a better world.

“I appreciate how our teams have been able to work together seamlessly. Not only has it contributed to the success of these projects, it aligns with our philosophy as an organization. It’s special when you can find that in a partner.”

— Rick Hart, senior Director, Brand & MarkEting, University of British Columbia

OpenRoad is now OXD.

After 23 successful years as OpenRoad Communications, we’ve made some changes. We’ve got a new name and new website, but we’re still the same people you know, focused on using research, strategy, design, and technology to make new experiences possible.

Learn more about the rebrand

Continue to the new website

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