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.
OXD works like peer-practitioners to augment and expand client capability
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.
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. By generating these solutions in conjunction with UBC, we minimized the risk of moving in a direction that wouldn’t work for the organization.
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 would mean that UBC could focus on business goals and delivery, knowing that our visual solutions would meet their Look & Feel guidelines.
Flexible Project Approach
Having limited time or budgets often calls 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.
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, our services included setting up dev environments, making technical architecture recommendations, supporting site deployments, and writing 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.