Emma Lawton
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Leeds College of Music

Leeds College of Music

CLIENT: LEEDS COLLEGE OF MUSIC
PROJECT TYPE: BRAND
ROLE: CREATIVE DIRECTOR | DESIGNER (AT PRECEDENT AGENCY)


Leeds College of Music is a real hidden gem. It's unique in mixing conservatoire methods (1:1 lessons, high quality teaching) with a less formal, collaborative university atmosphere.

The challenge

After speaking to staff and prospective and current students it was clear that there was a disconnect between what they had to offer and how they were communicating this. The college prides itself on being a hub for collaboration and at any time there can be any number of different sounds coming from practice rooms in its corridors. I was excited by this as an idea and began to look at the musical journeys people make during their time studying there, the role of the college as a stimulus and container for talent and the language of music.

The solution

As we wanted to create something which felt fluid and ever changing to reflect the college, we looked to generative brands for inspiration and these adaptable, living identities felt appropriate for a college who consider themselves to be progressive. The way that music could be visualised intrigued me, the fact that we could create a brand for the college which was made from the sounds coming out of it seemed apt. We were drawn towards visualisations which had an orb/container feel to them to reflect the hub of the college rather than those that were more linear or random.

Making it happen

Through our research of sound visualisation we came across the work of Karsten Schmidt, one of the worlds most exciting computational artists, and asked him to work alongside us helping to make our sketch on a post-it-note a reality. Thankfully he didn't run away. We collaborated to create a piece of bespoke software which when music is played through it creates a moving visualisation.

From hundreds of randomly generated stills from music visualisations passed through it the college selected one to be their mark. It represents the basis of community and learning that the college provides. When a student passes their music through the software the visualisation begins and ends with the college mark showing that they build on what is offered by the college, find their own sound and flourish. Leeds is asking the question 'What does your music look like.'

Choosing the college logo mark

Choosing the college logo mark

How student visualisations might look, clearly part of the same family but unique in every way

How student visualisations might look, clearly part of the same family but unique in every way

We paired the smooth, rounded mark with a condensed angular college title in Rama. It was a controversial choice at the time but we felt the balance between the organic sphere and the strong verticals of the type was a good contrast. It also gave a strong sans serif for use as titling on the web or in their prospectus.


Rolling it out

Creating the software meant that, very easily, the college marketing team could create countless assets, both still and moving, which could be applied to printed and digital applications. It also provides them with a tool to incentivise prospective students to engage with the college before and after applying. At open days and recruitment fairs potential students could interact with the brand and create their own 20 second video snippet from a visualisation of their music, share it amongst their peers and even use it to create a personalised prospectus to email to themselves.

Stills from student videos.

Stills from student videos.

The brand works well on everything from projections at live performances through to everyday items like signage and business cards.

External signage

External signage

Using the software to project at a live performance

Using the software to project at a live performance

We tested the new brand by creating an Undergraduate prospectus in their new bolder style. We stripped back a lot of the course information in them, sending potential students to the website for this, and keeping the prospectus in a slick, brochure style which could tell the story of its students and sense of place using the brand visual language.

Prospectus layout page sketches

Prospectus layout page sketches

Suggested prospectus cover and internal spread

Suggested prospectus cover and internal spread

A brand that grows

One of the great things about the brand is its ability to grow with the college and continue to adapt and change as it does. The success of a brand is ultimately measured on how well it is adopted by internal teams and in that case, this has gone from strength to strength. The LCoM marketing team continue to explore the brand, push it further and have a strong sense of pride in their unique identity.

Crops of student marks are used on this event ticket to maximum effect

Crops of student marks are used on this event ticket to maximum effect

The Rama typeface comes into its own in college brochures

The Rama typeface comes into its own in college brochures


It’s sophisticated, it’s progressive, it’s slick, it’s individual. It matches our vision for the future.
— Randall Whittaker, Director of Curriculum and Research, Leeds College of Music