BRANDING

Harvard University, Graduate School of Design

Harvard Design School is one of the world’s great architecture and design schools. We worked closely with them to create a differentiated brand that addressed both the traditional and innovative aspects of the school.

Scope of work

  • Logo and wordmark
  • Stationary
  • Recruitment Poster
  • Calendars
  • Magazines
  • Invitations
  • Banners
  • Catalogues
  • Harvard Design Institute


The Design Challenge

The “GSD”, or Graduate School of Design, presented itself in a very formal and traditional way. As we engaged with the GSD on a recruitment piece it became apparent that a fairly radical repositioning would be beneficial to their profile in the highly competitive marketplace of international architecture education graduate programs.

Engagement and Insights

We worked closely with leadership, management, faculty, staff and outside consultants in a highly collaborative and iterative process to build a design strategy and brand architecture that could be applied across a wide variety of channels and media. We researched the competitive landscape and did an audit of current materials. We discovered that it was important to leverage the name of Harvard in colloquial use to identify the school in a larger global context. There was also much discussion around the school’s position – noted for the best of both traditional design and contemporary thinking.

The school had important brand architecture considerations with 3 departments: Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design and Planning and important stakeholders and prestigious faculty. Significant time and effort was put into colour studies to create a palette to complement the traditional Harvard crimson.

Our Role and Responsibility

Along with a new logo and wordmark, we developed a strategy and larger vision for the new positioning. This included a complex kit of admissions forms, cards and envelopes. We designed a multi-tiered stationery system accommodating three departments and numerous endowed chairs. We created a style guide for the ongoing implementation of the identity. We also redesigned the “GSD News” (a newsletter-format journal) as “Harvard Design Magazine”. Formerly available only to the design school community, it was made available by subscription and on newsstands.