Queen's defends £300k on new brand identity as watchdog says spend 'excessive'
Queen's University is under fire after spending almost £300,000 on a rebranding exercise.
A new "brand identity" was introduced in October to "better reflect" the university and its place in the international marketplace.
The redesign, which includes a revamped logo and mission statement, follows an 18-month consultation process.
Now it can be revealed that the cost of the rebranding totalled £278,790 - including a consultancy bill of almost £70,000. The details were revealed after a Freedom of Information request.
The Taxpayers' Alliance spending watchdog slammed the expenditure.
James Price, campaign manager at the watchdog, said: "It is baffling how anyone thought that hundreds of thousands of pounds was considered an appropriate amount to spend on a logo rebranding exercise.
"Citizens in the UK are suffering under the highest tax burden in decades, and grossly excessive spending like this is an insult. This is money that should be spent on essential services, or left in peoples' pockets."
The new rebranding was launched at the start of October following what Queen's said was "extensive internal research and consultation over an 18-month period".
The new identity replaces the 'Q' logo with an identity based on the university crest, which Queen's said reflects its "heritage and place in Belfast and Northern Ireland".
Asked why the rebranding was undertaken, a spokeswoman said: "Higher education exists in a rapidly changing and highly competitive landscape.
"In order for us to meet our objectives, it was agreed that the university required to significantly raise its profile and reputation locally, nationally and globally.
"Based on the university's crest, the new identity showcases Queen's distinctive education and research strengths, and will be used across a variety of communication platforms. In so doing, it will also enhance the global standing of Northern Ireland."
Details released after a Freedom of Information request show the cost of changing signage amounted to £172,056, consultancy fees were £69,234, new uniforms cost £30,000 while rebranding vehicles cost £7,500.
A spokesman for the University College Union, which represents academics, lecturers and other staff, said: "University largesse is rightly under the spotlight at the moment and institutions need to understand that students are more interested in substance than style.
"New logos and shiny buildings are no match for properly rewarded staff."
However, Queen's said the new brand identity is "strong, consistent, distinct and visually impactful". It said the new brand "better reflects the university and its core values" and "better positions Queen's in the international marketplace".
The new brand was developed by the university's Marketing, Recruitment, Communications and Internationalisation Directorate in partnership with an external consultancy firm which remained anonymous.
The style of the university's new logo attracted some online criticism with one describing it as a "poor man's university logo".
Another said: "Consistency breaks in the execution. The lines of the hand come to a point, the lines in the book are squared-off, the seahorse is too big, the harp is too small. It's a little all over the place for me."
However, another said they "enjoyed" the new logo.
"The older version was a poor attempt at an identity whereas the newer one at least has a place of referential status with the shield and wordmark," they wrote. "The type could have been improved but overall I like the revision."