Strategy – Naming – Identity – Digital
Cambridge Core is the new global platform for Cambridge University Press’ academic content. A sophisticated, high-performance yet easy to use resource, this is the place to find valuable, useful and inspirational research and academic information. With over 1 million journal articles and 30,000+ books, Cambridge Core is the new central destination for academic research.
Following a competitive RFP, we were commissioned to create an identity that would reflect these qualities and build the Cambridge Core brand alongside its parent brands of Cambridge University Press and University of Cambridge.
To fully understand the landscape that the Cambridge Core brand would live within, we carried out an extensive research stage that covered everything from competitor reviews, to internal questionnaires and stakeholder interviews. We also had to consider that we were working within a well-established, globally known leader in its field, steeped in centuries of tradition and with royal heritage. This was complemented by brand workshops, communication audits and reviews of user focussed research carried out by Cambridge University Press, which was valuable in assisting us in building a full situation analysis.
At the heart of the Cambridge Core identity are a series of statements which summarise the brand’s ‘what, how and why’. These statements then become the foundations of our creative thinking, connecting the identity to the brand and ensuring a consistent thread throughout the whole process.
Name and logotype
One of the first deliverables of this identity was a name, and after several presentations, Cambridge Core was chosen. For us, Core firmly positioned Cambridge at the heart of Academia, as a vital starting point of any learning journey. The logotype we then produced, set in Avenir, needed to be flexible enough to create a precedent of consistency for future sub brands, as well as having the ability to incorporate the vast amount of subjects Cambridge Core will cover. The typography needed to be simple and clean to allow the logotype to comfortably adapt to each subject, whilst remaining confident in its master state. This striking yet elegant logotype complemented the Cambridge University Press brand perfectly.
Cambridge Core covers around 35 different subjects – some of which feature sub categories – and so the logotype we created was designed to adapt and reflect each specific area of study. This was achieved by allowing the letter ‘o’ in Core (the physical ‘core’ of the logo) to be filled in and or replaced by an icon or image that represented each specific subject, a clever and playful element that draws interest and remains truly unique.
Typography and colour
The Cambridge Core identity features 3 typefaces: Avenir, Helvetica and Times New Roman. These typefaces were all chosen for their aesthetics, legibility and accessibility. The primary typeface, Avenir, was specifically selected to lead the identity because of its open yet serious feel, as well as certain nuances it contains that aid in its legibility and give Avenir a harmonious and friendly appearance for both texts and headlines. The selected colour palette, for consistency, is inherited from University of Cambridge’s identity guidelines.
The main specification for any image selection is that it has to be subject led, and portray that subject with a depth that accurately represents the highest standards of education that University of Cambridge is famous for. Secondly, and where ever possible without compromising the quality of the image, there should be some kind of circular element to reflect the ever changing ‘core’ of the logo. Ultimately, this creates a series of imagery that could be identified as being part of Cambridge Core, whatever the context they are viewed in.
To ensure consistent and correct application of the Cambridge Core identity, we created a comprehensive but easy to follow guide that outlines every aspect of the visual and written language.
To help raise awareness and gather interest of the forthcoming brand within Cambridge University Press, we created a series of informative yet aesthetic posters that not only demonstrated how the new identity will work over various subjects, but also briefly outlined what Cambridge Core is and when it was scheduled to launch.
In line with the logo and imagery, the central feature of the visual language that unifies all of the Cambridge Core led communications is the circular form. This can be utilised in numerous ways, either by being subtly placed over an image, to create a holding device, or be featured as part of a graphic illustration, to name but a few options.
This part of the project was led by one of our collaborators; Make it Clear. Working directly with Cambridge University Press whilst we oversaw the implementation of the identity we’d produced, Make it Clear defined a comprehensive user experience and interface for the Cambridge Core platform that delivered a world-class product over multiple formats, as anyone would expect with a brand such as this.
Within the Cambridge Core platform there are a series of branded collections. These contain themed material, either by subject or content type, that is pulled together into a specific section of the site. One such collection is Cambridge Histories – an essential reference collection spanning 350 volumes in 15 subject areas. The identity for Cambridge Histories was designed as an extension of Cambridge Core and as such, it takes a lead from the master identity in terms of typography, colour and visual language. The development of this sub identity sets a precedent for future branded collections.
As with the Cambridge Core identity, each image selected for Cambridge Histories needs to have an editorial feel in order to represent the subject with an understanding worthy of Cambridge University Press’ excellent reputation.
Even though Cambridge Histories is technically a sub-brand, it was resolved in the same way as a stand alone identity, by defining a set of guidelines that outline how to successfully implement all aspects of the identity and keep it inline with the Cambridge Core identity.
Branch’s approach to understanding brand perception, how we wanted to use it and what we wanted it to reflect was brilliantly orchestrated and meant that they truly got beneath the skin of our aspirations and understood what we wanted the brand to convey.
From concept through to delivery, Branch demonstrated genuine professionalism, understanding and patience, and we were all utterly impressed by their creativity; they made it virtually impossible to choose from the beautifully crafted and convincing options presented! It was a very exciting process, made all the more enjoyable because of our relationship with Branch.
Head of Customer Experience and Platform
Cambridge University Press
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