The Challenge

With a pioneering spirit, a student-centric approach and an international outlook boasting over 130 nationalities in its student body, IE University´s academic model is based on innovation and entrepreneurship. 

As the younger sibling of IE Business School in Madrid –one of Europe’s leading institutions who Studio Banana also collaborates with– it was vital to distinguish  IEU in the eyes of the public and construct a well-defined, coherent, and unique visual identity delineating the brand during a moment of total transformation.

The Outcome

Since 2012 we keep successfully fueling all the different needs of IEU by providing strategic design support to all the different stages of their student’s journey. From print to digital, spatial and experiential, our evolving touchpoints always paved the way to help redefine their communications towards more innovative formats. 

Through a long-term co-design process supported by a profound understanding of the brand’s key stakeholders (potential students, parents, high school counsellors but also strategic allies like universities, business schools, and public institutions), we have helped IE establish a strong position in the market. Thanks to our extensive and daily support, we have evolved into a key partner, helping the university to reimagine the future of learning and excelling in this objective.

Our strategic journey with IE University

Discovery

A university in the midst of transformation

Our collaboration with IE University began at a time when the institution was immersed in a process of profound change and expansion, and with a great need of fresher visual strategies and communication guidelines to represent the identity it was seeking to establish.

To understand the population the university was attempting to reach and identify challenges and engagement opportunities, we delved deep into market segmentation, industry analysis and alumni and competitors interviews that helped us grasp the target and refine our strategic approach.

Ideation & Design

Constructing the stakeholder journey map

One of the greatest challenges in academic marketing is the multifaceted target audience, as educational institutions must appeal not only to students, but also to parents, counsellors and other organisations. Following a co-design process with IEU, we analysed the insights and experiences of the different stakeholders and established a hierarchy of needs and a long-term action plan.

This user centric approach then allowed us to design the student journey, which spans from the first moment they learn about IEU through graduation and their eventual role as an alumnus. By identifying key moments like awareness, decision making and loyalty, we crafted cohesive experiences and pieces of communication to engage with them. Revised each year with the university’s marketing team to make sure these tools are adapted to fit current needs, these efforts allow IEU to create awareness, spark interest, and improve its impact on potential students; achieving higher enrolment and retention rates as well as better ecommerce conversion funnels.

When strategic design drives distinction

Once the basic plan had been defined, the next question arose: what needed to be done to put IEU where it wanted to be in the future? For us, it was vital to construct a visual identity that differentiated the institution from competitors, while also lending it credibility.

As the university needed a communication strategy that took into account its segmented target audience, we developed two distinct tones of voice: an emotional style to appeal to students, and a rational one for parents, counsellors and strategic allies.

Implementation

Creating a real, cohesive, and flexible identity

Through a dynamic, adaptable design approach, our visual system can be applied across different communication targets such as the undergraduate degree, dual degree and global programme, while preserving the established brand identity over time.

To create cohesion, certain design aspects are present across all of the materials picturing university life while contributing to the perceived identity of the institution as a whole. A carefully constructed artistic direction made from the juxtaposition of colours, textures, images and text creates a rich and memorable visual system that is consistent and easy to read.

Our strategic journey with IE University

Addressing all the touchpoints needs

Beyond creating multi-format materials, our real challenge was to guide the IEU ecosystem towards the digital transformation and respond to the new needs of their target audience. By identifying and developing impactful moments of audience engagement, we helped IE expand their ability to reach digital consumers and potential students across the world

As part of a journey initially started with printed materials, we helped IE evolve towards a paper-free ecosystem avoiding to date the impression of thousands of brochures.

Our strategic journey with IE University
Our strategic journey with IE University

Capturing the reality of student life

The visual system is as simple as effective for the messaging IEU wants to convey. Regardless of the medium, elements like photographs of students and campus life and bold colours are utilised to emphasise the diversity of its academic offerings and the richness of its community. At the same time, each piece of material is personalised to reflect its written content and to clearly distinguish between the different programs and degrees.

Our strategic journey with IE University

The power of the tangible

As touchable pieces of branding, elements like pamphlets, booklets, prospectuses and welcome packs still provide the opportunity to create memorable and longer lasting impacts on an academic audience. From prospective students to prestigious projects, our print portfolio for IEU spans audiences and moments along the design journey while staying true to its core branding.

Our strategic journey with IE University
Our strategic journey with IE University

Visual synthesis of complex information

Our knowledge of the academic market gave us essential insights into the content consumption habits of prospective university students. By applying graphic design to the conceptualization of complex information, we easily develop and synthesize content-rich illustrations and infographics that complement the text, making it easier to understand.

 

 

Our strategic journey with IE University
Our strategic journey with IE University

Activating communities through immersive experiences

Events like the IE University Open House play an important role in introducing students to a university and can greatly influence their decision making process when it is time to enrol. In these immersive experiences, prospective students not only absorb the essence of the campus life, but also actively engage with the vibrant community that defines IEU.  

Through a flexible, bespoke approach true to the brand identity and overall strategic direction, every season we design each event ́s look and feel following some of the key principles of Circular Economy. Carefully crafted to promote their reuse in future events, our design vision incorporates flexible and modular elements fostering dynamism and boosting community activation.

Our strategic journey with IE University
Our strategic journey with IE University
Our strategic journey with IE University
Our strategic journey with IE University

Conclusion

Since IEU began its journey just a few years ago with 25 students, more than 8.000 pupils have passed through its halls. While we started out by fulfilling a need for distinctive design, we soon became broadly involved in areas including marketing, admissions, and academics; opening new business channels and accelerating the university’s growth.

It is highly satisfying to see how our work with IE University keeps contributing to its growth, international recognition, and success. We are part of the institution’s digital evolution, and we are proud of the fact that whenever a new project meant to impact students emerges, Studio Banana takes part as the strategic partner. This reaffirms our belief that design can be an extremely powerful tool in creating relevant, differentiated communication for the brand´s stakeholders.