King’s College London ditches 'pretentious' rebrand after student anger

Students had dismissed the proposed new name 'King’s London' as 'pretentious' and more suitable for a brand of aftershave.

Tom Bawden@BawdenTom
Monday 19 January 2015 22:12

Every so often, a venerable institution decides to spruce up its image, only for things to go expensively awry.

King’s College London became the latest rebranding casualty after it was forced to abandon plans to drop the word “college” from its name and introduce a minimalist new logo and website.

The idea – which is believed to have costs tens of thousands of pounds – had been strongly resisted by students, who dismissed the proposed new name “King’s London” as “pretentious” and more suitable for a brand of aftershave.

The rebrand had been due to be implemented next month, but students were told that their campaign had been successful. “The decision is to keep that name [King’s College London] in every way, both as our official name and how we talk about ourselves. So, no more ‘King’s London’,” Principal Edward Byrne told the student publication, Roar.

He said there had been “unanimous support” from the upper echelons at King’s for the U-turn, with every member of the College Council agreeing to scrap the rebrand. More than 12,000 signed a petition against the change, arguing that it was a huge waste of money that could be better spent improving life at the college.

“Not only does this undermine almost 200 years of tradition, as well as sabotaging a worldwide reputation built on the name King’s College London, but it serves as a huge and unnecessary expense,” said the petition’s founder Emily Braddock, a second-year theology student. The petition also disputed that the students had been properly consulted about the name change. The full cost of the attempted rebrand is not known because the spending was mixed up with the general marketing budget, but has been estimated at somewhere between £87,000 and £300,000.

Announcing plans for the new name 18 months ago, Principal Byrne claimed it was necessary because research “revealed that our current name was causing considerable confusion: is King’s a residential college, is it an academic college akin to the colleges of Oxbridge, or is it an educational institution of some other type such as a further education college.”

But in an email to students, he said that the university’s “number one” priority was student satisfaction.

Other costly and unsuccessful name changes include the Post Office’s temporary change to Consignia and PWC Consulting’s to Monday.

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