Imperial College London

An identity to inspire: Branding university venue and accommodation

Imperial College London’s commercial arm approached us to rebrand their venues and accommodation offer. Originally two separate sides of the business, a new strategy meant they would be coming together as a united offer under one, new brand.

Branding + Identity + Strategy + Naming

Aligning to a bold new strategy

Imperial College London’s commercial arm had a bold new strategy to move towards a more streamlined approach. This would focus predominantly on large-scale educational events across both their venues and accommodation offers, while retaining a portion of their still successful individual accommodation bookings. They had almost everything they needed to make the best of this new strategy. However they were missing a brand identity and a strong tone of voice to help them communicate this new focus to their audience, as well their internal teams.

Aligning business and brand

Our first goal was to align Imperial venues and accommodation brand strategy with their business strategy. We ran an extensive brand audit that considered their own brand and those of their competitors in fastidious detail. Through client and stakeholder interviews we built up an honest and accurate picture of how Imperial Venues and Imperial College London’s accommodation were currently being perceived. This information gave us a solid foundation from which to move forward.

The valuable immersion sessions and brand audit that our team conducted led to a brand proposition workshop with key stakeholders. They discovered the central idea that would help guide their vision, values, and brand personality, along with their visual and verbal tone of voice for the future. This brand proposition had education at its heart, stating loud and clear that everything Imperial College London’s commercial arm and all of its spaces, venues, and accommodation, exist to serve the next generation of great thinkers and doers.

Naming the brand, unifying teams

This new, unified brand needed an impactful and recognisable name. Taking inspiration from their newly defined brand proposition, the name we crafted embodied a sense of endless inspiration: Celesta Venues. Its link to blue-sky thinking, endless possibilities, and the spark of inspiration made Celesta Venues their new north star. From this name, the identity as a whole fell into place.

The mark of inspiration and progress

Newly-named Celesta Venues wanted to inspire at all stages of their audience’s journey, whether they were booking a large-scale conference or a single room in student accommodation. The name has clear celestial links and speaks to the brand’s desire to be the spark of inspiration for many. The brand’s star motif is a bridge between these two ideas. Additionally, it implies a sense movement from the first letter to the last, representing Celesta Venues’ place as the catalyst for movement and progress for their clients and customers.

It was important to leverage Celesta Venues’ links to the esteemed Imperial College London at the start of the brand’s journey. It’s a major draw for their audiences, including their overseas student summer schools. To keep this link strong, we created an endorsed logo that featured Imperial College London and preserved their recognisable dark blue in the Celesta Venues colour palette. It is a respectful nod to their roots without hampering their promising trajectory for the future.

A central motif of Celesta Venues’ identity is, of course, their spaces. We wove graphic outlines of their venues around bold typography in a vibrant colour palette, creating a visual dynamism that spoke to continual movement, progress, and excitement — a concrete link between the nature of education and the value of their spaces to learn and educate in.

A messaging matrix that hits the mark

As part of the strategy development process, we created launch messaging that targeted Celesta Venues’ key audiences. This was informed by audience personas we crafted in our initial brand workshops. A targeted messaging matrix such as this helped Celesta Venues make a bold first impression.

The messaging had to inspire and inform equally: bold, attention-grabbing headlines sat with informative but welcoming copy and calls to action. Celesta Venues could use this solid tone of voice foundation to inspire new messaging as they moved forward.

Prioritising accessibility

Celesta Venues values accessibility highly, especially as part of a university. We made sure the brand’s bold new visuals were accessible to WCAG 2.2 standards and developed the colour palette with accessibility in mind. On top of this, we ran additional colour tests for digital and print, and set the brand’s typographic styles so that future design teams can easily create accessible Celesta Venues assets.

A constellation of assets

We knew that Celesta Venues’ brand guidelines had to be as inspiring as they were, and we collaborated with the brand’s digital team to create their new website. The guidelines we created set Celesta Venues up for future success, providing all of the resources they needed to be exceptional in every area.

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