Mapping socially responsive communication workshop preparation Case study: Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Humanites in a self-imposed crisis | oliver's blogpost @ Memefest
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Mapping socially responsive communication workshop preparation Case study: Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Humanites in a self-imposed crisis

Case study: Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Humanites in a self-imposed crisis

End of October 2010 this document :
was sent to the mailing list of the Board for the defense of Higher education and scientific work by a professor of the Faculty of Arts. The board is a loose civil initiative consisting of academic staff, researchers, students and independent intellectuals.

It started as a response to the overwhelming marketization of our system of higher education. It is a Europe-wide trend. In Slovenia, a country with a long tradition of public education, the pressure of the global capital, supported by the local political elite and managerial leaderships of academic institutions, is particularly acutely felt: an immense pressure is being put on all: educators, students, researchers. The policy that all knowledge that does not lead to immediate economic benefits should die is now having very visible effects. Doctoral tuition fees rise, making the study inaccessible for those who lack the means to pay for education. Academic working conditions are being driven down and an increasing number of educators and researchers have to work under extremely low wages and in extremely precarious conditions. This are just some examples.

A further effect of this commercial culture is the new urge for strong branding of the educational institutions. PR, advertising and design are now being employed to make the institutions look attractive to the market. Marketing communication is expected to solve the financial and other problems. As usual, this is done in a shortcut manner. Instead of putting all efforts into the academic processes developed through history, a new facade should show a positive image and conceal the inner crisis. Behind this commercial facade, critical knowledge is disappearing, and authentic theory is being pushed out of the University. Long-term original research is giving place to industrial production of short articles competing for publication in journals indexed by the US bibliographic corporation Thomson Scientific.
This particular case was chosen for our debate for an obvious reason. It is a sad case of marketing based (visual ) communication. We all know that such processes work to the external as well as to the internal public of such an institution. Communication creates identity and institutionalizes (self-)perception. Values, as in this case – commercial can be only enforced through time if there is a institution that is their reproducer.
It is important to understand that this web site is the main medium around which the new visual identity is being built. Printed materials such as brochures with exactly the same identity are already being produced and distributed.
The whole process was done without any real involvement of academic staff and student community; the new overall design was presented to the members of the Faculty Senate months after the contract with the design agency had been signed. As a project coordinated by the managers of the school, it is not only a mirror of those people's aesthetic values, but reflects their intention to impose a new, commercial, identity upon the biggest, oldest and most important academic institution for humanities in the country, and to transform it into a standardized factory. It should be added that the Faculty of Humanities, its students and academic staff have historically always stood on the forefront of dissent, civil engagement and protest, playing a crucial role in the political movements of the sixties and eighties; even now, the two main initiatives opposing the violent erosion of the public education system are rooted in the Faculty of Arts.

This particular document with the new identity and web site concept/design was met with outrage on the mailing list. Many employees of the Faculty disapprove of it, but it could not be prevented from being implemented. One of the reasons is the naturalisation of the marketing discourse. The debate within the Senate (the main executive body of the school) was eventually reduced to the issue of personal aesthetic views, giving the managerial pushers the right and opportunity to dismiss anyone who opposed such a profanation of the institution. Again one thing is clear- in the minds of the big majority (even within a academic institution that claims to nurture open and critical thinking) there is only one possible form of communication: marketing communication. Nothing else exists. The case of one particular institution can be taken as a symptom of wider processes involving both higher education and the professional field of communication/ design.

This discussion should highlight concrete problems of this web site communication/design concept in the light of its applicability within the framework of Faculty of Arts in the context of current socio-economic and political conditions.

What is wrong with this type of communication?

About Faculty of Arts:
Current web site:

More information about it in English:,_University_of_Ljubljana

Mission (taken from promotional Brochure- few years old)
The Faculty of Arts produces highly-educated individuals with an open, questioning and progressive approach to the humanities and social sciences. Particular emphasis is placed on the straightening of national academic areas that help to shape Slovene identity. The faculty cultivates research work, supports inter-disciplinary, opens up new academic areas, and creates new educational programs for its students. The uncovering of new scientific and academic knowledge is included in the process of study in such a way as to develop the level of quality required for Slovenia's self awareness and the faculty's creative presence in the international sphere. To that end it also organizes international consultations, congresses and conferences, as as inviting eminent domestic and foreign guests whose lectures contribute to general Slovene public awareness (the lecture series Culture of Tolerance has included or will include Noam Chomsky, Adam Michnik and Bronislaw Geremek).

Bellow you will find thoughts on this from workshop mentors: Sandy Kaltenborn, Tony Credland, Jason Grant, Shoaib Nabi, Alain Bieber and Oliver Vodeb

Workshop participants will be invited to comment/reflect on this as well. Afterwords a wider Memefest public will be invited.




well well well…. my first reaction when i got the input from oliver on this new institute website and the process within the institution, how it came to shape and what the process mirrors from his perspective was:
this comes at no surprise and sometimes i feel a bit tired in repeating my critique on such things, on how i feel about seeing universities more & more serving market requests and not democratic culture/s in society and so forth...

ok. - but somehow i singed up for this curatorial work at memefest 2011 and so i guess its my duty - and of course also my interest ; ) to write a few thoughts down, as the other curators also will in order we have a bases to discuss during the meetings in Holland end of may 2011.
usually the weekends are my lazy days - and now even more, as a cleaning robot has moved into my house an does all the vacuum cleaning all alone, i can sit on my balcony here in berlin kreuzberg, with my laptop (macbook 15"/2,4ghz and 4GB ram) and type this:

i will stick to the PDF and not so much relate on what oliver has written to the process. i hope thats ok . i will basically try to underline what oliver already has stated in his lines, by just referring to the PDF:

ok - so lets jump right into this (leaked) presentation PDF of the new website and some design work.

graphically its quite catchy and i have to admit there is something i like about its visual gesture and concept.

i guess a big part is this cutted typography - which from my reading reflects on different ways of reading - the gap between the message sender and the recipient in communication - the layers of content and understandings etc pp...

it gave me big laughter when is saw the illustration of the person (student?) holding the poster with this quote on civilisation and not even thinking of throwing a rock. the person, lets call him or her a student, is not even visible. so even if we know this kind of showing posters very well (from numerous designer websites or student portfolios), we should keep in mind that this specific pose can at least say 3 things:
a) i am just doing my job here holding the poster so you can see it better - or b) i am not important - the poster and its "message" is important - or c) look what i did! isn't this a cool design?

a cat just came by on the balcony (she hates the new vacuum cleaner robot!)
guess ill quickly go inside an tell mr robot to move back to the docking station.

sorry for the interruption.
ok - the cropped photo of the guy - is this someone i should know? is it maybe mr s. freud? … or is it just again a "typical postmodern" young male representation: smart & deep looking, and body most likely well shaped as his face - malish and cool by beard - but soft, caring and intelligent at the same time. just as we see it on photos in advertising all the time - and also in students portfolios more & more?

so lets be "civilized" and not throw a stone - and continue the quote: "civilisation began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock - and ended when all humans became puppets of a marked formed public culture" (i agree its a bit superficial…but huh… reduce 2 the max?)

it even gets better when one sees the technical illustration of the citylight billboards: clean and 100% not accessible for ordinary people who cant afford buying the ad-spaces. this illustrations refers (positively) to privatized public space - rather than to ask what kind of communication we need. or at least ask what kind of discursive space an art institution should/could be in the wider context of a democratic society?

coming shortly back to the puppets: the funny thing is, that the puppets hold their own strings these days. govermentality… and the european understanding of civilisation? - well this is a whole story for it self, as the European civilization was build with the blood and exploitation of so called 3rd world countries as we know. and was it not Yugoslavia who shocked the Europeans of its uncivilized outbreak of violence?
dam- i am confused again - but i actually thought that the war in Yugoslavia thought us that there is no such thing as a civilised society when it comes to show?! only the ones who are happy about the power structures in democratic societies will differentiate between a stone and structural violence which is needed to keep things going as the go (…?!) it would be nice to have a talk with freud on the inaugiration day of this website i guess.

back to the illustrations: actually the image politics here are falling far far behind this self governance practice: as we can see on page 21 (big billbord simulation) the guy was just about to say something, but they preferred to shut him off by sticking the "" the foundations of knowldedge" right on his mouth. funny huh!? (i have the feeling i am throwing stones again)

so i am a bit surprised about this page 21 billboard image. is it a little to direct? simply because the design and the guys expression carrys in his face etc. is potentially open for anything, just as good products have the image to sell to everyone: empty and full at the same time.
this is marketing and market culture at its best: don't offend anyone (or critique) but be concerned about anything! be part of it - but dont ask to much. be concerned - but don't name the powers.

back to the PDF in general, which is actually quite direct and honest if you want so: first the merchandising products - then the website (as a product - and not a media for communication).
get your mug and t-shirt for free when register? how many ipads are sold in Slovenia? does this institution seek for ipad owners as students?
this is not about new media. this is just following some crude understanding of technical development without any social responsibility in design & communication at all.

so i believe this PDF presentation it is not seeking to discuss and research and question the needs of communication for an institution. it does not even talk about communication. it talks about a product and it will most likly work. just as 100.000 other websites and mugs like this work. just as the culture/s of markets work. nothing else. until someone spills the coffee.

sandy kaltenborn

ps. i am a bit disappointed by the mug. i like the idea to start my day with a civilised strong coffee in the morning. but i am disappointed that the designers did not manage to warp thy text/typo around the mug. or maybe this is concept? then i want one of these mugs!

ps. oliver - you are critizising that there was no participation in the process of shaping the new CD / website at all. well - i am not sure if participation is always good. its not always about participation. but about power. sometimes. but this is a whole other discussion.



It's noted that this process of commercialising higher education is Europe wide. But of course it is as far reaching as the market itself. Certainly in Australia the escalating competition between universities has fostered an environment where marketing messages have created institutions in their own image. One of our leading universities (Queensland University of Technology) calls itself 'The University for the Real World' - the implication is of course that the 'real world' is the global marketplace, and traditional academic concerns are at best quaint and at worse irrelevant wherever they diverge from market priorities.

So, as has been noted, these initially cynical advertisements become internalised as core mission statements. Public bragging about rates of graduate employment, for example, becomes the limited criteria for reputation.

It seems a critical problem is that the more an institution projects these values and therefore the more they are internalised, the less capacity they have to respond to vital issues of our time wherever they contradict these values. I'd guess then this is a reason for example we increasingly see universities urgently tackling the impacts and physical causes of climate change, while the underlying economic, social and political causes are not adequately addressed.

The University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Arts visual makeover is pretty typical. There is a predictable disconnection from the institution's culture and traditions. It's an admittedly potent quote by Freud, but a missed opportunity to relate directly to the faculty's history. Even seemingly marketable obvious achievements are forsaken in favour of a visual pose that could come from anywhere and stand for anything. Likewise, there is no real attempt to engage with the substance of the university's contemporary culture - no engagement with the cohort, or its social context. What a wasted resource.

Thus it came to pass, a unique institution is homogenised, trivialised and ultimately weakened.



A response to branding of academic institutes Shoaib Nabi Ahmad
I believe the essence of the document lies within this statement "Instead of putting all efforts in to the academic processes developed through history, a new facade should show a positive image and hide all the problems." I have had the advantage of being educated both in the British model and the American Model of education and through my personal experience I
have seen that emphasize on theory has been severely marginalized in the American model.

However this said recent Accreditation from the USA has made vital suggestions to our programs that we need to bring more theory to our programs. We have been conforming and implementing their suggestions. This is also a requirement for National Ministry Accreditation.
External funding in some regions is critically evaluated as it should be and a very high standard is applied to the acceptance of funds but I am well aware that although a non-profit, private organization education is still considered a state interest and responsibility lies directly on the founder of institutes and their mission and goals. So to hold any parallels might be unfair.

Recently an institute in the USA of which I am an alma mater Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) founded in 1877 had its own dissent with the current president John Maeda and how the governing of the institute under his leadership has been questioned. An extract from his response to the no-confidence vote: President John Maeda responded to the
faculty co-confidence vote last Wednesday via mass email today at 3:00 pm. Maeda claims that the changes he has implemented have benefited the school in the following ways:

• Increasing funding for scholarships and securing 6 and 7 figure gifts.
• Receiving significant grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation.
• Garnering increased national attention from policy makers and potential employers.
• Realizing the lowest tuition increases in decades.
• Welcoming the most diverse class in RISD’s history in 2010.
• Creating a vibrant space for student activities in Carr Haus.
What Maeda does not address is why his administration seems to be pressing forward with the consolidation of departments despite being deeply unpopular. It’s easy to see why many at RISD might find the presidents email grating. He talks a lot about the conversations he has had, but not
once does he cite the voice of the students or faculty. The omission is glaring according to the reports published online. For more information you can visit the website

1. An ability to have transparency in the electoral process - which leads to respecting the process
and its integrity.
2. The more difficult to implement is to evoke a response to what Dr. Oliver Vodeb keeps on referring to "Response-Ability" - take the initiative and action.
Teaching ethics and social responsibility should be part of every curriculum and reinforced in practical terms not just in theory. How we educate today breaks down to a simple thing what we expect from the next generation. What we need to pass to them to be successful and how is this success measured. I would like to believe that success would be measured in terms of your knowledge of Humanity through Liberal Arts and Sciences, through Theory and Practice. Perhaps a notion that is so simple that we find it unattainable in this age when education has become a model replicated through globalization without an understanding of the process of its
dissemination to a particular culture and the results it may produce.
The standardization of the University of Ljubljana website and its supporting collateral material marks a growing trend to package and promote education, its faculty and curriculum as a commodity that can be to par of a well orchestral product launch of a high-end brand. Where previously we used to see ads for job openings we now also see a growing trend of ads for students invited to seek admissions. One can argue as competition grows in the field of education it is almost required for educational institutes to have a desired ‘sex appeal’ to attract and boost their numbers.

The problem does not lie with the desire to achieve greater enrollment but with the erosion and undermining of institutional memory and the lack of inclusiveness of the establishment as a whole in the process. Which means its faculty, staff and students not to mention alumni and established research partners.

Institutions, especially an academic going through rebranding may have its purpose and adaptability challenged due to rapid changes in technology, however it risk losing its identity which in the first place established its name. Another factor, which is clear in the case study that the brand is now generic, and I can easily place this institute in Toronto, London, San Francisco
or even in Dubai or Qatar. Universities, Colleges and Schools are not remembered by its advertisement campaigns or it’s new buildings unless they have over time become iconic as a place. It is the faculty, the embedded programs, well serving curriculums and the graduates who have promoted through their success the institution, which makes a far greater impact.
An example that I want to bring to attention is the New York Times it is a brand that has build itself on loyalty and integrity. At one point it decided to include color in its pages and the outcry was such that it forced the publisher to revert to the classical standards one has come to associate with the publication. More recently the GAP, rebranding was rejected by its loyal
customers and the company was forced to rethink their initiative for a cosmetic change.

Which is what it is at the end of the day ‘cosmetic change’ bringing an alienation of its customer base. Change is often necessary and its impact should be measurable and quantified, it requires focus groups to be established from within in most cases and when use of positive synergy is at its best it often leads to acceptance of change through establishments across the board. I stand by my statement, which is also the focus of my inspiration day talk stated here:

Knowledge can be disseminated in no particular way. In my opinion it should not conform to a system but foster through set of challenges that crosses boundaries. An open exchange of ideas or set of opinions on a particular issue should be encouraging, constructive, and come with sincere dialogue building.



It looks like the commercial designers/agency did not really understood (or researched) the values of the university, nor the philosophy or the history. They propose a visual identity, starting with a typography and colour code and a picture format - without first thinking about for whom they really work. It´s more important to propose a merchandising collection (coffee mugs) and show an iPhone/Pad-Application then to really analyze the special needs, the unique requirements of the faculty, the values of the university or even the usability. As most designers the agency don´t think about how a good design makes a website more useful/usable or how the users really want to use this website. Conclusion: style rules - and ruins everything. The result is not creative nor innovative - the design looks like a 08/15-edit plate; there is no strong branding, no strong visual identity, the visuals/layout looks exchangeable and at the end the web design could have been for a assurance company, a hairdresser or a soft drink. Certainly a better result would have been achieved if the university would have worked together with their students and professors on this new identity/website - because they are inside, they know for whom they work (and imagine: what a great practical student project for a design faculty to do their own website), it would strengthen their own "allegiance" to their school - and it would have been a democratic, authentic and open way to communicate - and perhaps even a PR-scoop (see FUBU-Marketing: "For Us By Us").



I am afraid it is all too familiar here - but 20 years ago - we are now in a crisis phase of total privatisation of the university sector with very little opportunity of it not happening.

Our University saw a 80% cut in financial support this year - forcing the colleges to follow the money in which ever way they can - or close. In fact many will close over the next few years. This cut is in Humanities - the cut to Science is only 20% which illustrates where government thinks the money will come from - Science will be supported by business and will work for business through practical partnerships. They Humanities are no longer relevant to this business model and are being forced to find any funding through partnerships or student fees. As we are a humanities only University we will be effected badly - other universities can support their humanities with their science funding - for a while. (One Uni London Metropolitan is cutting its courses by 70%! and the student occupation was evicted yesterday.)

The student fees which were started by Thatcher in the 1990's continued and increased under Labour (left of centre?) government and now stand at £3000 / year are to raise to £9000 next year to fill this funding gap. The students (or should i say clients) do not pay this money lightly - they are increasingly less interested in academic ideas - and are now forced to aim only for high paid jobs to pay back their fees... So this is forced from all directions. From Government / management and students. The tutors have little option - we have had 20 years of gradual 'efficiencies' that have brought us to this point - none of the strikes / occupations/ riots have had any effect. Once you have a market in students - which we have now - teaching is a balance between fees / student numbers / quality - not a good position.

Next year when we have a market in courses - internally and externally - it is hard to not see many closures. We are now 'unofficially' in competition with our colleagues within our University of the Arts which includes Central St Martins and Chelsea. You can see where marketing and branding is going to take this - the language of business is already deeply embedded in our structure, for research and for teaching.
I can see why you are concerned about what is coming to your situation. We warned of these changes 20 years ago - but nothing changed - maybe we managed to slow things down, over the years but we are now quite close to the American model. The Bologna agreement of European Universities set years back - probably includes the start of this process in Europe - first aligning the standards - then the market.

In many ways the marketing of the college in this situation is the icing on the cake, so it is interesting that your institution is starting down this road. Hopefully we can intervene at some level and challenge the progress, but as the anti-capitalist movement always said - this is a system that we are working in - that system can contain revolt for a while, the question is how wide the challenge to it is in society. And on that level i guess there is still some hope in Slovenia.

The problem with the pdf of the University marketing strategy/style guide is that it does not relate to anything. It is a stylised design that references some current trends in European design (Dot Dot Dot magazine / etc) without saying anything about the subject. But that is what i would expect from a marketing department - and in many ways i am glad they get it so wrong.

There is a clear dependence in showing the 'hardware' that the university might like to offer the students; the ipad and iphone - the inbuilt desire to merchandise is set out clearly with the mugs and caps! This all makes this less like a brand identity than product around which desires need to be created.

An understandable desire to show the old and the new, through type, (which is also mirrored in existing texts) but it does seem like a design that has not attempted to understand its purpose. This leads us to the point of; Does a university need publicity? At what point does marketing and identity cross over, and where does the concept of a brand come in that students and staff might relate to.

From reading the existing site i see a strong desire to have a brand in terms of knowledge and history but then in this situation the brand is only for a small audience. This campaign seems to be required for a general public audience on the streets of Slovenia, speaking the everyday language of consumer culture.

I am presuming the existing logo of the flying 'f' books is the only item that remains the same - and of course this does not fit well with the new style. Having said that i cant imagine any modern design University in the UK that does not have a bad identity - as the design departments are rarely invited into the process.

I wont pretend to understand much of the proposed visual language - like the pattern/waves/maze/blinds, the colour blue in there or the desire for an unshaven model. They could relate to any product or advert. The quote is clearly pointing towards the idea that educated people don't fight so much the uneducated (they just find other forms of aggression).

The core ideas they seem to be pushing - Visibility / Software upgrade / Brand / Aesthetics - are quite odd to quote in a document like this and indicates the other type of work they are probably used to do. (i am a bit confused why this is stated so clearly, who are these pages aimed at - the managers of the University or just a reminder to the designer of what s/he needs to put in).

Overall it is hard to really decode beyond the point that is a marketing campaign that misses the mark - but then maybe i am not the intended audience and and missing some of the semiotics.

cheers tony



The role of the University and an institution as the Faculty of Arts, with all its history and official vision statements is (or should be) an active, or rather responsive one. The institution is not isolated in a hermetic academic sphere, but through its research and education actively shapes society. Humanities and social sciences- both being taught at this institution, are key for emancipation in our times of predatory capitalism. In this light the web site as a primary medium of the institution should reflect this emancipatory position of Faculty.

The proposed document is rooted in commercial culture. This is obvious in the slick advertising like designs which are in my opinion everything else than inspirational. They lack any artistic aura and are conceived to support an easy marketable brand. Symbolically the visual identity does not connect with the content, history or vision. It is in this perspective pretty decontextualized. Same as advertising. The fact that the whole process was made without a wider involvement of students and Faculty stuff is another typical feature of marketing culture. It is exclusive, not inclusive. Real participation is not part of marketing culture. Media that is shown as examples in the presentation speak the commercial language too. No tactical, no DIY, no publicly accessible media.

The brand is a typical standardized commercial signifier. What a shame, this institution has such a diversity, such a big range of colourful cultures. The quotations used work pretty much in the realm of what we know as »cool«. Critique as part of commercial culture used for the purpose of achieving distinction. A classic approach embedded in the heart of commercial culture. Such critical gestures are of course nothing else as empty phrases.

The communication does not take any position, any risk and it does not show any willingness for adventure. It is boring, because it is the same thing as all other commercial communication. Distinction through cheep anesthetization does not help. It is being different in the same way.

Another problem is the automatic use of Facebook. One of the dimensions of socially responsive communication is that it builds communities of collaboration. FB makes communities of instant communication rooted on commercial selfpresentation. Commercial, because social relations are created as part of market relations. Everyone is on sale and social relations are the best medium to get projects for making a living within precarious conditions. In my opinion a progressive educational institution needs to deal with the educational cultures of competition that we face this days. How can we create educational and academic cultures of collaboration? Not through commercial media, that's for sure.

It's funny to see the model used to pose in this visual disaster. Self confident look in his eyes. Very cool hair cut. The same stuff we see everyday on TV and in magazines. Isn't the role of such an institution ot question reality? To communicate outside of stereotypes?

I remember a nice remark of one mailing list member. He said something like this: »dont you see, they are using this quote, so they can dismiss anyone who will critique the institutions managers responsible for this disaster, as uncivilized«? It really is fascinating how this things work. In my experience a web site is a perfect medium to reflect of a institutions internal culture during the process of making. I am not sure how consciously intentional or reflected all this marketing manipulation dimensions were in this process. I would say not too much, but Its quite ironic that Freud was used. They were not reflected, because there is nothing to reflect upon. For reflection you need a (potential) alternative. You need imagination. What if there is only marketing communication that exists in the heads of the makers of this web/identity? I bet this is true. It is normal to make a commodity out of the faculty it is normal to create marketing based social relations. It is normal to create a commercial brand out of a educational institution. But this "normality" is inherently manipulative.

In order to achieve a state of potential for social responsiveness certain conditions have to be met. Socially responsive communication meets the following characteristics, where a communication concept and practice shall have beside characteristic 4, 5, 6 and 7 also the characteristics of at least one of the first three.

1. It shows hidden relationships of power in society
2. It establishes communities of cooperation
3. It opens a new communication channel
4. It participates actively in social-cultural processes
5. It pays attention to its own effects of communication on society and culture with the purpose to communicate in a socially responsible manner
6. It self deconstructs in the communication processes with the purpose to establish a critical distance of the public to the communicator
7. It establishes dialogue and/or conditions for the dialogue

There is still the question of process, of course. Analyzing a web site or brand or design as a end state, end product, end artifact is limited. But what we can read from this document shows that not even one criteria is met and one can be sceptical that things will change in the process.

The initiative to defend higher education and scientific work has started in this Faculty. Right now a new web platform for the initiative is being build. Let's see what will happen.



More about Sandy Kaltenborn:

More about Jason Grant:

More about Shoaib Nabi:

More about Alain Bieber:

More about Tony Credland.

More about Oliver Vodeb:


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12 years ago

hi there. link to pdf file is broken :(

12 years ago

fixed! thanks.

12 years ago

Interesting that we all have very similar experiences for the most part- the same is true for my university. I do ponder a bit about the influence of globalization and "competitiveness," and hence the marketing ploy. In part, for countries that have been generally well-off, the university has been somewhat off limits. We have had these pressures on us for a time, but they have been something that we could dismiss. Now that "the end of history" has officially been put to rest esp with the global recession/depression, I think that what we are feeling is a huge unrest and fear from the people that support us.

If a particular culture had a history of supporting learning, I think it has become eroded. The upshot of economic globalization is about economic survival, which pressures the academic sector to "pony up" (or otherwise deliver).

No news from me for you all, but what would really reshape the discussion is a way to come back with a simple clear discussion about why the value of open inquiry should be supported. Most of the rhetoric that we are facing is quantitative in nature- how many people, how do they perform, etc. etc.

Is there a way to build a qualitative benchmark to take on this discourse, at least in university education? The so called qualitative component is not part of the rhetoric that we are faced with.

12 years ago

Sorry- I forgot to add that I did something like this in the university that I teach. I got a grant to support a publication with dissemination on a course. It is qualitative in nature- I can bring it along when I see you all.

It's a small competitive voice in the stream of P.R. that I have to deal with- if it is something in hand for the people that encounter the other rhetoric, it can have a different effect.

12 years ago

I find it hard to believe that such a facile representation would attract many students (beyond a few with the same vapid aesthetics as the marketers themselves). I do not believe that young people are a vacant as this marketing agency anticipates. I would associate the aesthetics in these adverts with a hair-dressing salon and the content with an industry-led school for marketers - not an entire Faculty of Arts at a University. There is really nothing in this advert that I associate with the tradition, values or purpose of higher education. Nor is this advert a reflection of the diversity of people and activities that takes place at universities.

The good news is that the advert is so spectacularly wrong that the document galvanised resistance at the university. Herein lies an opportunity to demonstrate just how dangerous these trends towards commercialisation of education (and other sectors) actually are. Universities, like all other sectors - must conform to the demands of the market economy in the current system. Critics of capitalism warn that all our social institutions will become homogenised and turned into a tool of corporate capitalism as an inevitable process of the expansive dynamic of capitalism. Now these processes that have been at work for a long time are making themselves blatantly obvious. Will these provocations create the kind of resistance that could be effective? I think it is possible - but it will depend on those of us who are critical of these forces to help build a greater understanding in the communities and society at large - and will depend vigorous oppositional stance to the encroachment of corporate capitalism into the education and everyday lives.

12 years ago

Good evening.
I'm going to do it short because
it's late and because
there's several things I wanted to say about this case
that I just read in the comments, but ok,
I play the game and try to say it quickly with my own words.

Generally I don't notice that kind of communication's mistake because in France most of institutions (from state to city) got that kind of consensual forms based on this fake idea that the "simple" the communication is, the better the message will be understood. This state of mind goes against common interest. It's buisness discours not democratic one.

So the principal problem is that there's no relation between client values
and choices of the designer, in fact I was pretty sure that there wasn't any discussion between the people concerned by the communication an the advertiser compagnie at all just by looking at it.

It's obvious that the way you communicate must be in echo with the way your client acts. In this case I only figure a kind of cliché message related to the global idea of knowledge. Communication must go deeper in the subject because contrary to industrial products, knowledge is something that you don't lose when you share it, it ain't clothes or toilet paper, education is a winner / winner principle, so they don't need to "sell it" with their classical marketing stuff, it doesn't make any sense.

Slogan shouldn't be a substitue for discourse. The subject is education.
What does the idea of civilisation in the quote have to do with university ? And by the way this stone / word answer for expressing agressivity
is certainly a good quote from Freud but does it mean that education is based on an agressive relationship between student an teacher ?

Graphic chart shouldn't be a compilation of graphic gimmicks of the past years that every advertiser copies and edulcorates. Graphic effects are on the same ground of reading from the rest of the poster as if the message was only decorative as any other elements of the chart.
In the same time you have the "so cool" geometric colored figure, the duo serif / sans serif font with some twist between the font, this single metrosexual guy from an image bank (posing on some black background that make you think he's posin for some underwear) instead of some collective (men and women) coming from university. None of that kind of stuff is specific to the subject, it could have been applied to any other subject without meaning anything more than "it's trendy to have this type of communication".

Finally, you have this paradoxical geometric black figure that come over the mouth of the (supposed) student.
Ok, let me understand a bit : Freud said something about using words instead of rocks, and what ?
Advertiser shut the guy up with something that looks like a rock ? WTF ?

12 years ago

Pondering a bit more on this, there are other ways that perhaps we should be looking at this issue of mapping getting back to Oliver's original goal of the workshop. There is the "surface" level as Oliver points out- which if I understand correctly is about the marketing language of image and text that has been disseminated world-wide, but there are other issues as well. If we think of branding, interaction and service design as being three inter-related things, then the visuals in the above example are being produced as part of a larger systems based approach to channeling the audience's thinking- a component of branding. One thing that could help is looking at the design offices that are producing this kind of larger systems based design. They tend to be pretty open about putting out their methods to convince prospective clients that they have something that works.

Take a look at IDEO for example: the Cooper-Hewitt just named the "head" of IDEO as the new director, which acknowledges the move from an "image based" design to a larger "systems based" design strategy.

Also check out Hugh Dubberly and Dubberly Design in LA.

The use of mapping techniques in these offices is pretty evident- we could "reverse engineer" those concept and other maps as an activity (i.e. uncover the ways that "the coffee mug" ended up there in the first place as part of a branding strategy), or we could look at issues of reception by the audience- the kind of control that systems-based design takes is often subverted in other cultures.

Another aspect is that systems based design is heavily dependent on "research." We could look at ways of digging out what this research is based on and look into critiques of it. My limited experience with people that do this tends to indicate that they simplify the issues, or something ends up getting lost between their research and the application (ie it gets simplified in the design implementation) look at quantitative analysis, and claim more than they should be claiming for their methods. Ok- sorry about doing three posts here... way too much from me...

12 years ago

The unconscious always returns and its pretty clear to me that the the use of the diagonal line reminds us all of a guillotine, an efficient "humane"killing device invented by revolutionaries.. sounds like neoliberalism to me and exactly what is happening to the education systems across the world! The use of the word civilization is interesting ! especially as ghandi famously replied "when asked what he thought of Western civilization?" - "it would be a good idea!" ... civilisation is such a loaded concept, loaded with power and hierarchies, old paradigms, colonialism, ecological devastation, large scale mistakes and the creation of deserts ! Why not use softer notions of the illusion of progress I wonder, surely in the desire to turn knowledge creation into a market they would want to pretend that we were somehow post civilization !!!

12 years ago

To be honest, I didn't recognize for what company/institution is made until I read the description. At first sight it evoked me a spot on men's fragrance. I have read all the comments on this at the webpage. I would like to know if the competition for the design was open or not at all. Usually it is a fault of one person who has the last word because of his/her influential position. It is clearly a bad design and it talks more about the person who chose it instead of the person who made it. Also Freud's quote totally lost its meaning in this context. And maybe it is better to don't put any quote at all in the frame of any university concept. It is kind of mission statement but in this case it is really useless. On the other hand the well done presentation of everything is quite important. We should think about for whom we do design and what message we want to say. I like design and nice things which they have a meaning or concept otherwise they stay empty. If communication design should work it must apply a little persuasion. In a persuasion I see an important issue for a discussion. We must distinguish a good and a bad persuasion. Then we are able to change the communication strategy. We can start with the common issues and slowly go inside to the communication guerilla. Let's start with the basic questions: Is this communication gender equal? Is there any racist undertone? What kind of audience does it include and what exclude? Where is the political reason or source of the power? Which part of the message can we read? How can we deconstruct a hidden meaning (persuasion/manipulation/power)?

12 years ago

From the written case there is no doubt that here is obvious that the managerial leadership of the faculty choosed the agency because of certain benefits.
At this point certain questions arise:
What is behind all this story?
What are the relations between the managerial leadership and the agency?
How the managerial leadership can act like this without consequences?

I think is a classic story of of sharing power between certain elites, no matter of the expertise, of the quality, etc. What is

It is sad that the such an important thing as redesign of the page and marketing campaign is not made with cooperation with a wider community.
But no..the managerial leadership choosed the dirty “manouvre”. Their act was self conducted, arrogant, ignorant, hegemonic, ignoring the main aspects of the institution a faculty of Arts should have (cooperation, networking, dialog, research, benefit for entire society,…)

It could be a nice project connecting students from humanist studies, design faculty and computer science studies and of course from the Faculty of Arts. They could use it as a school project, collaborate together inside and outside the faculty and raise the notion of collaborating together.

The strategy taken by the managerial leadership and the final result fells on all statements social communication should have. There is no sign of:
- establishing communities of cooperation,

- paying attention to its own effects of communication on society and culture with the purpose to communicate in a socially responsible manner

- establishing dialogue and/or conditions for the dialogue

- etc…

I am wondering how this can happen in the realms of a public institution? Are there no rules to avoid this selfish decisions?

Ok…they did it in another way. Let try to see it from a weird – other perspective. In a weird way – the strategy taken could result - with some luck - with a good product – in the jargon of the advertisers. If they would choose the right professionals –advertising agency (!?), but they didn’t.
Is not that that marketing firms, advertising agencies, has the best possible methodologies how to seduce people – target groups? At least I was reading about that. They kind of know how to get in peoples minds. They know how to make the customer buy the product – in our case, the customers (students) decide to study on this faculty and not somewhere else. They study all these stuff, make elaborates and then decide on the proper operations.
I don’t know how such a communication campaign and redesign can attract more potential students, get more visibility and have immediate economic benefits.
The chosen agency has nothing of that. Is amateurish – in the process of solving the communication process and in the visual identity. About the design it was said a lot, so I think I cannot add nothing new. Sad…

So obviously the selection was made under different purposes with no care for the quality of the final result and strategy.
I think also without care for the financial benefit of the institution (!) - but more on the instant benefit for the main clique in the managerial leadership.
But power is power… grrr

Rok Klemenčič

12 years ago

Just wanted to add something I realised today because of our paranoïd governement and its crazy project to apply ChinInternet

12 years ago

Just wanted to add something I realised today because of our paranoïd governement and its crazy project to apply the restrictive Internet Chinese policy to world wide web.

The problem of using a quote from Freud is the anachronic dimension. When Freud is talking about civilisation at the moment he writes this phrase, he's doing it in a context of world wide colonisation.
The idea of associating civilization to eductaion reveal a typical colonial way of mind as Sarkozy talking about "civilzed" Internet.

When he is using this expression he shows how he is colonial minded as if Internet we are using everyday was a wild and outlaw place without any democratic background (despite the fact that all the comission he asked for studying it proved him the opposit). "Civilizing" Internet looks like he wanted to convert users to privacy and censorship, and bring to all of those stupid freedom thinkers some capitalistic values.

When I read this quote from Freud beside the agressivity background which is clearily the opposit of a constructive exchange that you could have in some education situation, I can get out of my head the feeling that this departement will colonise my free speech.

Which is very bad publicity to university !

12 years ago

In the very beginning, education was politicized and now it is commercialized. What a change!
Civilization could be started with the food as a product, as Engels put it.

Supplementary knowledge is a product, no doubt in it. Because it wasn't shared worldwide.
Knowledge is a product (food), that brings a power.

Also, it never was costless. I'm working now with 8 class students in Armenia's region.
Students and their parents use money at the school, for their Rating.

Dear Oliver, I liked much "Real participation is not part of marketing culture" of you,
but no: participation is a part of marketing, it creates itself as a culture.

When I share my knowledge with them, anyway,
telling that in the future no any local institution wouldn't like them if they are open thinkers,
that is local context, in which education (academy) is highly politicized but not commercialized yet.
That allows me to do one step back (from foregoing texts) to say:

European knowledge (academy) never was given to the world for free, through nonhierarchical communication,
namely- equal in Price. But now, using this visual world,
we have the possibility to share our knowledge with any viewer.

12 years ago


Would be great to overcome the knowledge of visual world with producing operative images and only.

from the repertoire of a dreamer.

12 years ago

The design is banal in its coolness and frightening in its implementation.

Everyone’s reflections have been insightful and, for the most part, moving on the same kind of wavelength. As I come to the discussion a little late (my apologies), I will try not to be repetitive….

There are a few currents that seem to run parallel and intersect with each here; a) the commercialisation of education, b) the way that commercialisation is informing the aesthetic idea/design/advertising of education and c) how ‘a’ and ‘b’ are coming to impact the nature of that very education.

Personally I just can’t get past the phrase: Civilisation began the first time an angry person cast a rock. As people have pointed out it is indeed a significant kind of “Freudian slip” on the part of the institute’s design team and/or administration.

The statement is obnoxiousness. Embarrassing. Startling. After all the post-structuralist/post-colonial thought that moves in the air today – it is upsetting to see this idea of an apparent civilised “word” being pitted against an uncivilised “stone”.

The world is far too complex to ever begin to understand it along such hierarchical and simplistic divisions – a process Jacques Rancière has critically described as the “partition of the sensible”.

The act of civilians throwing stones at the armed forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir today is not about the “uncivilised versus the civilised” (although some would try to frame the discourse along those lines – as colonialism has done again and again). Rather it is the barbarity of the apparently “civilised state” that facilitates the emergence of stone throwing as one of many tactics – that also include writing – that in this case struggle against a military occupation. The word and the stone are not always as oppositional as Freud’s statement makes out.

It is disheartening to see an academic institute perpetuating what are really more or less the fictional hierarchies of ideas.


On a completely different level – as I read through this material – my days at high school kept coming to mind.

A new principal took over our school when I was in year 8 or 9. She wanted to make a mark. Revitalise the school. Give it a new image, a better name than it had. I never really understood why – but she decided to change the school’s colours from red and green to blue. The colours of red and green had a local history that I was told stretched back to WWII. I never understood why she changed the colours - perhaps on a personal level she simply preferred blue to red and green. She also changed the school’s logo. People were forced to buy new uniforms – which were expensive.

With our school located next to the ocean I often enjoyed wearing sandals in the summer – though it was not officially allowed. Our school had a relaxed attitude to uniform but then suddenly our new principal came down hard. People were taken out of class – I was even removed from an important exam because of an incorrect uniform on one occasion. While our principal placed so much energy on the school’s external image – through uniform, colour and logo – inside the school, in the year 2000, we were still using text books with students names hand written and inked in them from the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

In a way I found it somewhat exciting to use these old books that carried such a long classroom history; but in the context where so much energy was being placed on the appearance of the school with little happening to its improve its actual inner workings – it was infuriating!

The colour of socks was given more importance than the content of one’s actual education.

The questions and situations we are dealing with here – through this Memefest discussion – are part of a larger, deeper cultural condition. While it may be dominant, it is by no means the only one that exists.

There are ways of wearing odd socks, of throwing stones and of writing.

12 years ago

Also Paper txt msgs from KAshmir, the e-book and video, are now online and can be found at:

Looking forward to meeting you all in Nijmegan shortly.

12 years ago

I do apologize for the late response, I am finally getting a chance while I suffer from jet-lag in Amsterdam...

The re-brading itself is rather vapid - its selling a shallow image and that is it. There is not consideration for the core values of the institution, as a designer that is the first stage in the design process - to determine the audience and intention. The intention here does not go any further than selling the modern cliche of "cool", and clearly the audience has not been overly considered, as it is a general image aimed at what young adults may consider "cool". I don't believe opening the re-design to the student community would have made it stronger though, either, as some core design fundamentals could have been overlooked (although there certainly seems to be a lot lacking as it is). I do believe there should have been some initial contact between the members within the Humanities community and the person dictating the goals of the re-brand to the designers responsible. It seems as though one person informed the designers of the "goal" - to make the institution appear attractive, to invite more applicants - and being "cool" is attractive, right?

Aesthetically, the design is amateur. There is no consideration for the placement of the random geometric shapes (why do they enhance the design at all?) in relationship the other elements of the overall design. Typographically, its a mess - which is such a shame for what comes across a typographically dominant design. I question why the designers thought it was important to emphasize "CIVILIZATION BEGAN THE" in bold serif font. Although the core message of the design is completely unconsidered, it would have had a much stronger impact if they had only emphasized "CIVILIZATION BEGAN". I do understand their intent on combining the sans serif with a serif font - however their font choices are also lacking if their intention was to contrast the old with the new. And don't get me started on the unnecessary widows...

Also, am I the only one who finds this design overly masculine and not gender equal? The colour palette, font selection, image of a male etc, seems a little gender-specific for what you think would be a gender-equal department...

12 years ago

** edit: "bold SANS serif font ** - it was late.

11 years, 9 months ago

The University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Arts website homepage speaks of a progressive approach to its teaching and learning and a desire to help shape Slovenian identity. However, it appears from the visual communication that the brand is confused in its own identity. This reflects badly on the faculty because the intended audience would undoubtedly perceive from its branding the exact opposite of what the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts wish to express in its introduction to its audience.

The brand reflects an aesthetic of corporate business and/or high-end magazine design, which seems, at the very least, a strange (and probably damaging) choice for a university Faculty of Arts. There is no passion, nor inspiration, nor imagination apparent in this visual identity. When my Visual Communication Design class discussed it, a classmate aptly remarked that it looked like GQ Magazine.

I am an Australian student at the Queensland College of Art and unfortunately I don’t know much about Slovenia or its history, but I can appreciate the plight of the arts not being given its due by those who see universities as marketable businesses only. This also happens in Australia, as Jason Grant stated above.

Design at its essence is communication. It should inform the intended audience, not confuse it. I can only conclude that the professed core values of the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Arts are not on display in its visual identity.

11 years, 9 months ago

From observing both the proposed brand and the website, I found that the visual message was mixed and unclear. Both visual styles and identity do not really match which makes whatever message the University is trying to get across confusing. It almost seems that the University is attempting to pander it's potential future students and the public through its sterile appearance and general lack of emotion. I am also unable to determine a hint of the Universities values or beliefs from ether the brand or the website.

Without the title of the article or any background knowledge about what the brand is about, it seems like it could have been used to represent anything i.e. a cologne or a radical newspaper. As I have a limited knowledge about Slovenia I cannot be to forceful with my next opinion, but from what I have researched about the University and from what I have seen both on its website and the design hosted above, it seems as though the University is trying to deviate from its traditions. I came from a school that is over 100 years old and a few months ago the previous principle attempted to re-design the image of the school. This decision caused a large amount of argument because what is most important to the people, both internal and external to the school, is a constant reinforcement of what the school is and what it stands for. If the school is old and has a good heritage, than it should be put for as so. If a school is young and ambitious, this ideal should also be clear. The University boasts a history but is putting itself forward as being fresh and Avaunt Guard. I have no problem with a University trying to re-brand itself to keep up with the times, however, the fact that the ne design is trying to pitch itself as something that it isn't is where I believe the identity lacks.

11 years, 9 months ago

There seems to be a general agreement that the visual identity proposed for the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana cannot be considered a successful outcome.

Shoaib Nabi accurately identifies that the work is more reflective of current European design trends than the uniqueness of the institution itself. While the work is technically good, it does not address the core objective of the identity task, which is to draw on the culture and history of the institution. As a result the work does come across as a thinly veiled marketing ploy.

As mentioned previously by Jason, therein lies the risk that this superficial and marketing oriented visual statement will become internalized.

The visual branding has clearly strayed too far from internal aspects of the faculty, and as a result loses all sense of it's own purpose and substance.

11 years, 9 months ago

Before I read this article, I know few about education from more politicalise become to commercialised.

After reading this article, I strongly agree the sentence you have mentioned before which is "commercial culture is the new urge for strong branding of the educational institutions”.

At school, it is really important to have a standardized factory to make it commercial and student will have chance to do the real job and get more experience. University is not only to help people to improve their aesthetic values or get more knowledge.

11 years, 9 months ago

I really agree with the issue that this article have mentioned. But i feel sad that the commercial value become more and more important in the design world. As what the article have mentioned, the knowledge we study in the university is not design itself, is more about how to make the biggest commercial value of our design. In my opinion, we should pay attention to the meaning of the design and what the sustainable way of design some stuff like that. I like the word which olive said:"Real participation is not part of marketing culture" .

11 years, 9 months ago

I understand how this is happening. It’s a quick sleek method that sells to the 18 – 20 year olds target market and for production dollars to student dollars, maybe tryed method that worked in the past. At the end of the day it is a business transaction! This global focus is contributing to this mass look-a-like approach at the expensive of valuing the uniqueness of place, community and culture and yet it is only the billboard or shop window. I believe that the ‘Y gens’ are smarter about shopping than what this method demonstrates.

I had a refreshing chat with my daughter who is in the midst of choosing a university for next year. She is looking at nursing but here are her views on choosing a university.
“What is important to you in searching for ‘the’ University?”
Her response
“I listen to people who I know and trust who are at those universities. These could be a girl I work with, friends and family. I go and check out the location and attend the open days and talk to the faculty and students. What is important to me is the community. Will I be looked after? Will I be able to succeed here? Will I be safe to share my thoughts? I also visit the websites and look at brochures to confirm what I have already heard.”

Maybe this isn’t anything new. She wants to believe that what she is investing in is true and will help her achive. The element of truth between the design and what is perceived by people already experiencing the university.

Two points, 1) The brand needs to be consistent and 2) does the community successfully fulfilled itself in place, experience and promise to live up to it's visual communication or visa versa.

I believe university marketing needs to revert back to its own localalities in order to rediscover their uniqueness. Success, therefore is to build its place in the immediate community, build partnerships with local practitioners to help strengthen pathways into industry and endeavour to create life around the university.

So I agree with Alain Bieber when he mentioned involving ‘faculty, students and professors’ but I would also add practitioners in industry to help give the continued story. Once this ‘true’ identity is established then that can feed the creative expression and evolution of identity that can be betrayed throughout the total brand experience with particular attention to remaining consistent to this.

Therefore, in critiquing the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, they need to rediscover who they are and stop trying to perform on the global stage. Truth is the future for the Y generation!

11 years, 9 months ago

Firstly, advertising is all about competition. After observing the brand identity of the Faculty of Art Web design (pdf doc), it is clear there is some mixed up conception and inconsistent use of the brand, which could actually lead to the failure of the purpose of the advertising itself. For example, from what i've learned while working in advertising agency, we were restricted to use a reversed-colour ads (black background with white text)because it is quite hard to read and has proven repeated lower response rates, which could be one of the worst advertising techniques.
The application of the brand for the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, is just simply too complicated. The use of mixed up-fonts, overlapping objects, photographs, plus random objects. are considerably failed to communicate the real meaning for such a Faculty of Art.
Again, It is ironic to see the original brand (from what is seen on the website)that arguably is quite far from what is expected from Arts Faculty. However, i, personally, as a person who do not live in Slovenia, cannot judge why they created the brand using that kind of style, since i have no basic knowledge about the history of that particular area. On the other hand, it can be seen that as an overall visual identity, it has no basic consistency that could just referring to University of Ljubljana as one unity (if we are matching up the website with the pdf document provided).
Design is actually all about communicating the purpose without having to explain the meaning behind it; and it can be seen the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana perhaps quite missed that point. The basic strategy to fix these up is perhaps to use the consistent colour, style and shape. It is because if we are comparing them together, it seems like they are going to different directions by the use of completely different design approaches; fail to communicate visual identity as a whole, as a unity.
However, the issue here, as Jason Grant stated above, that it does happen in Australia (or pretty much everywhere), the visual identity makeover of The University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Arts visual makeover seems quite not surprising. There is a predictable disconnection from the institution's culture and tradition with the message they actually want to address. I can understand how actually the tradition cannot really go along well with modern days we are living now, so they do try to give a breath of fresh air by using modern style and mixing that up with cultural value they originally have - and there are two possibilities; the result could be incredibly fantastic, or fail to deliver the message because they showing us confusion between culture vs technology.
I am not saying it is an easy fix, since culture (or history) and the technology of advertising are sometimes standing in different platforms. Culture has passion and feels into it, while technology for modern times prefer to be stony cold and rigid. Therefore the result that the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana is an example how hard it is to actually combining the culture/history with the pressure of modern times.
As an observer for the overall identity the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, I am unable to catch the meaning or the message they are trying to deliver, since it is not as dynamic as it's expected to be as a Faculty of Art, lacks of emotion and feels into it.
The fix is to step back and realise the original vision/mission of that particular faculty, and start building up the identity from it, apart from the external influence. By doing so, the brand will at least communicate the message well.

It is not about how to look cool and modern here and there, it's how to reflects themselves as one unity that matters. We control the design, not the other way around.

11 years, 9 months ago

With first sight I liked it, maybe because I found the “pay off" interesting. But I have to say that I didn’t understand who the messenger was until I read the text- and than I didn’t know what to think. I find it to cold to be for a school of art. When I think art I think colors and here it is just all black and white. And also when it comes to people holding up a signange, it is so old and used up (but that is my meaning).

Give it some colors and make the man smile. Give us a little of the fun life in art, because this is sort of depressing.

11 years, 9 months ago

For me the brand is somewhat interesting to look at, parts of it I find visually appealing. However, for the purpose of branding Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana I am not sure if this is the right way to go about it. I do not know the Faculty of Arts but if it is anything like an art school I feel that this visual identity is to dark and not connecting well to a school of art.
Oliver Vodeb wrote, ”The brand is a typical standardized commercial signifier. What a shame, this institution has such a diversity, such a big range of colourful cultures. ” this is not conveyed through the branding.
I agree with a lot of what Sandy Kaltenborn is commenting on about the visuals. He commented on the figure holding the poster, which I also noticed looking though the pdf. Is this figure part of the poster or if not why is he or she placed there?
He also commented on the cropped guy in the photo, is this a man the viewer know or should know, is he someone special to the school or the art industry?
I also thought the same about the mug, if the text is intended to be straight or if the design just did not manage to wrap the text around the mug.
If the branding is intended to brand the university I do not believe the viewer would see this as a art school, rather a campaign for some type of support group or organisation.

11 years, 9 months ago

I can not comment on this campaign as a person with a lot of insight in advertising, but I could have been one of the target groups they are trying to reach since I also go to an art school.

So my first impression of this campaign was that it did not have a clear idea on what this campaign were trying to say or who were sending this unclear message.
The layout seems quite formal and political to me, with the strict lines and the hard contrast, with no hint of creative outlet which is what i would link an art school to.
I think the wording on the ad material are interesting and a good qoute to live by but it gives me no association towards a art faculty.

It would be interesting to do a research on how the students see the school and if that is reflected in the campaign, if they even recognize a hint of how they experience the faculty, in this ad, I would think not.

Know your audience before you start designing.

11 years, 9 months ago

I concure with Oliver, I believe the tactics and message are not evident in contrast to the overall feel and "look" into the advertisment. Not only does the future take hold in the typography, color, and photo, the message relates to land before time. The original invasive species, us. What do we have to offer now that we have cast the first word, something deeper, more meaningful and a lot more in depth than a young fresh looking depressed boy on a billboard. Let's get free.

11 years, 9 months ago

Personally, I would rather see an advertisement that conveys to me what it would be like to study at the University, and where a degree from the institution could take me. This however may be an expectation that I've constructed from my exposure to such advertisements as mentioned by Jason.

Overall, I find the campaign to be too ambiguous, and lacking of any reference to the history and culture of the University, it really could be an advertisement for a University anywhere in the world. Admittedly I did find the ambiguity to be curious, and the Freud quote did engage me. However, I don't think either of these things could help me to make an informed decision about whether to study at the University.

11 years, 9 months ago

The design seems to not really show the university; although it is a visual identity it seems more of a merchandising collection without real intent on who the work is actually aimed at. It shows that the design was externally produced, the professors and students are the internal factors of the university, the heart and soul so isn’t this the right demographic to attempt to create the identity? We want to see what the university is about, what our experience will be when we go there and who will we be when we leave?
Although I appreciate the design and like it quite a bit, I would definitely not associate the visuals to be linked with an educational institute. Keeping in mind it has come to my attention after seeing a very recent and similar advertising for safe same sex relationships that kicked up a bit of discussion through the media. The use of the black and white imagery and coloured type on the front holds the same style. Other than this, the design appears to connote glamour and elegance using the black and white portrait, in addition the age of the model shown seems to be a little older than that expected of a university student. I would expect visuals like this to be in a product or event campaign?
A university is filled with youth, life, colour and inspiration. Through this visual identity, and that which is expected to be of a design/art school, I don't get this message.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree that with this article.
Nowadays the commercial level is raise rapidly.
this is the thing we really need to worry about.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree that with this article.
Nowadays the commercial level is raise rapidly.
this is the thing we really need to worry about.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree that with this article.
Nowadays the commercial level is raise rapidly.
this is the thing we really need to worry about.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree that with this article.
Nowadays the commercial level is raise rapidly.
this is the thing we really need to worry about.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree that with this article.
Nowadays the commercial level is raise rapidly.
this is the thing we really need to worry about.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree that with this article.
Nowadays the commercial level is raise rapidly.
this is the thing we really need to worry about.

11 years, 9 months ago

I strongly agree the sentence "commercial culture is the new urge for strong branding of the educational institutions”.

In a design school, it is very important to have the same system to make it commercial and student will have chance to do the real job to develop more experience. School is not only to help students to develop their aesthetic values or get more knowledge, but also to use our knowledge through the real life.

11 years, 9 months ago

i really agree this sentence
"A further effect of this commercial culture is the new urge for strong branding of the educational institutions. PR, advertising and design are now being employed to make the institutions look attractive to the market. Marketing communication is expected to solve the financial and other problems."

because in design school, as we are now. always are important to develop and chagen the culture and educational institutions.

11 years, 9 months ago

What is wrong with this type of communication?

As a student who has been looking at different universities in Europe and Australia, i can say that this kind of communication attracts me. The pay off is a little bit diffuse, but i like that. I wouldn't say that this is ground breaking, but it's clean!

11 years, 9 months ago

In my opinion, the above design is broken the traditional standard's education design. Coz in my mind,education is something belong to principle, like the "box", we cant design over the its boundary. But it happen in this design, i admitted it was nice and creative in some way but totally went wrong with the standard.

11 years, 9 months ago

I agree that commercial value is more focused on as design environment is changing gradually these days... and I agree that oliver refers that real participation is not part of marketing culture.

11 years, 8 months ago

This ad most defiantly coveys a commercial feeling to it, as it reminds me more of a modeling adjacency or clothing store rather then a deign school. I understand the fact that an institution needs a face to relate to the community, yet I think if the future of designers is in the young minds learning advanced new strategies then why not look to them to create the design or at least get their input on the institution to see how they would like to be portrayed, along with the staff as well. By using this logo and design I think it DE-credits the reputation for the school, as it is falling into the the stereotypical culture that is becoming the standard, yet not becoming any more intelligent on a social platform.

11 years, 8 months ago

On first glance, the new design for the University of Ljubljana appears trendy, modern and contemporary. But upon further research of the faculty, it's history, its people and its methods. It becomes apparent that the new identity is not an accurate portrayal of the institution. Shoaib Nabi comments on the way this university, amongst others are almost required to have 'sex appeal' in order to attract new admissions. I find that this is exactly what we are seeing with this new visual identity. The new brand seeks to appeal to a trendy and contemporary audience but in doing so lacks any real link to the history of the university, or its culture.

I find the use of the quote to be interesting, but I am unsure on how it would be implemented to the long term brand. I don't believe that this one single quotation is enough to base a whole brand identity and marketing campaign around. Both the use of this quote and also the choice of image style (trendy male model type) reinforce that there was a severe lack of conceptual thought process around this new identity; and that ultimately this design intends to be trendy, commercial and little more.

11 years, 8 months ago

Anything is becoming as a commercial business, and it's all about making profits.

Knowledge should be something to share with and everybody move to a higher level. However, it's became something you need to pay for. This is just limit people's abilities.

11 years, 8 months ago

In my opinion I too believe that it is too commercialised to a point that it doesnt really show the faculty's history.

But, being a Visual Communication designer, I feel that it at least manage to promote this brand by being 'commercial'.

whether its a good or bad it depends on our own interpretation.

11 years, 8 months ago

I agree that it's sad that the commercial value has become so important in the design world. It shouldn't be all about how to make the biggest commercial value but more about the meaning and purpose of good design, and how to use design as a tool to make a difference in the world.

As for the branding of Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana there is clearly a disconnection between what they want to say, and what they are actually communicating. As many others have mentioned the visual identity does not look like an art school, but more corporal or political.

11 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Oliver about the problem mentioned in the article. It’s sad to see the commercial value becoming so important in the design world.

I felt worried when I read Oliver saying, “Symbolically the visual identity does not connect with the content, history or vision. It is in this perspective pretty decontextualized. Same as advertising. The fact that the whole process was made without a wider involvement of students and Faculty stuff is another typical feature of marketing culture.“

This made me worried if the things we are learning in uni will reflect fully when we start working out side of uni because we focus more on what is good design, how to make it, how to use it to make difference in future design, rather than about how to make biggest commercial value. We know it is important to consider visual identity to be connected and reflecting somehow with the content, history or vision, when we are designing something and that rule should always be followed, I believe. I want design to be more admired and seen as an important factor rather than commercial value.

11 years, 8 months ago

The new visual identity is a very clear example of the above-mentioned commercialisation in action. While I do not deny that the identity is visually appealing and may produce an effective outcome for a period of time, I do believe that this effect will be very limited and will cease to gain attention quite rapidly. This is the issue with this form of communication. While effective initially, it is so short lived.
The identity is supposed to be representative of a community, which carries with it a vast range of intangible elements. History, education, communication and other forms of dialogue in action. While the new visual identity form of approach merely reduces it to a functionality. Where do these elements fit?
The visual identity needs not to try and sell the university on the premise of a modern, sex sells appeal, with little to no depth, but rather, create an identity that is representative of the institution as a whole community of dialogue in action. This does not mean that aesthetics need to be compromised, but rather, be based on robust research in conjunction with creative execution. Overall, not only should the identity ensure maximum impact (attention) but more importantly, maximum value.

11 years, 8 months ago

A couple of points –

A quick one first - I agree with Sandy in that it looks like he is being gag. It was the first thing I noticed about the billboard when I entered this webpage; you could write a decent sized essay on the semiotics of it especially considering the context in which it was designed (ie no consultation with students or faculty).

The second point that I wanted to make is that I imagine the design suits the University’s higher management’s purpose and intention. I am not saying this is necessarily good or right but we have to look at the University as being a business first and an education facility second.

Universities are essentially selling a commodity – a degree – but not a degree that you do for the sake of academic pursuit but as part of package deal. A very good social marketing plan has been built up around that and (speaking from an Australian experience) they start “selling” to you in grade ten, 3 years before actually “buy”. A degree is sold as a stepping stone to an end product almost like a buy one get one free deal – if you have a degree you will have a job. It is the thinking behind the slogan “the university for the real world” as mentioned by Jason Grant – the real world being one where you have a job. As an aside – I feel this slogan devalues learning – as if the pursuit on knowledge isn’t a real world activity but rather a means into the real world.

If you look at from this perspective and only this perspective, that the purpose of the visual identity is to “sell” degrees to potential students, then it is quite effective. It appeals to young people who want to learn the skills to get a trendy corporate job. It reflects the perceived values of the target market rather than the values of the University.

11 years, 8 months ago

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that the design of the brand is good. Sure, the aesthetic quality of it could be worked on, and it may have missed the mark of what people wanted, but for one thing it does right, it does it well. It gets people talking. Look at us here throwing words around on this one topic. The faculty has had their say in it too. That's the whole point of this all anyway. To get people talking about a brand. After all, everything is a brand now-days. That's not a bad thing at all. Brands should evolve around society, and change with them.

This brand has possibly started off on the wrong foot, but it will change. Causing an uproar over this is perfect for the Faculty of Humanities. The article stated that they were on the forefront of public voice, and what better way to do it than against their own institution?

It may not have been the intended result, and many may say it is a mistake, but the mistake that came from it is highly effective in making people talk.

11 years, 8 months ago

It is a pity that education becomes a part of business. It makes many potential students cannot continue their study as they cannot afford it. Many universities become like a companies. They are more likely looking for high profits more than educate students. They put many funds on branding themselves and lack of improving the education systems. Also, many universities are more welcoming the international students more then the local students as they can earn more money. Also, many students cannot even get a job after they graduate. All those factors, seems like affecting the society trend. It seems like the direction of the aim in universities is changing. It becomes really competitive between the universities. This problem will just lead to the quality of graduation.

11 years, 8 months ago


I don't think that universities have become more business than before. In fact, I think the marketing goes hand-in-hand with the quality of education. What I mean is, sure there are issues with on the face of things, the school wants more money. But that's because things are expensive these days. When the school gets more students, there is more income to go into funding the institution. Creating better facilities, and bringing in better teachers.

As far as students getting work after school, that really has no connection with the institution. Sure, a better "name-brand" school will help, but it's all the market that dictates where the jobs are. After all, we are a product of the education system, and they are, bottom line, a business. They need to make money.

When universities better market and brand themselves, it actually makes things better for everyone (in theory.) By having an open market where people are free to choose the best institution, it causes them to try and show that they are the best. But the kicker is – they then need to prove that they are the best. Thus, the quality of education increases (once again, in theory.)

It looks like a lot of people here are fighting the whole thing based on what they see, and they don't look deeper into the subject matter.

11 years, 8 months ago

i really agree the argument of this article.
Nowadays universities's campaigns are being more and more stereotype and commercialize just to fit into the market.

I have to agree that education is a part of business nowadays, however, I think that is not a good idea for universities to be over commercialize.





Oliver Vodeb






I am a member of Memefest communication/art/theory Kolektiv, and founder, curator and editor of Memefest Festival of Socially Responsive Communication and Art. Iam also facilitator of Memefest online social network.

I am an Academic at RMIT University, Melbourne. I teach and research mostly in the field of communication design. I approach design/communication from a critical inter/ extradisciplinary perspective and I investigate theoretical, strategic, conceptual and "hands on" practice.

I enjoy working in many different media including visual and text.

Books I have published :

This was my studio in Slovenia (2004-2012):

CV (sort of):

You can read some of my texts here:

I have joined the Memfest community becasue i am interested in

I have been here from the very beginning of Memefest. I am interested in communication/design for social and environmental change.
I name such communication socially responsive communication.

Broadly speaking I am interested in visual communication, photography, sociological aspects of communication, design and media.

Iam interested in institutionalised forms of communication like for example communication done by design/communication studios and advertising agencies as well as non institutionalised forms of communication like tactical media or broader aspects of media activism.

In a slightly more academic language:

I am interested in how critical social theory can illuminate the complex processes of production, distribution and reception of public (visual) communication in order to generate public communication as a responsible social, political, economic and cultural practice.

I am particularly interested in relations between concepts of response-ability and communication effectiveness, and the social construction of design and other forms of pubic communication as profession, practice and praxis within academia, the market environments and non-institutionalised communities.


was studiing at Faculty for social sciences University of Ljubljana


PhD in sociology of communication and design

Working place

RMIT University, School of Design, Master of Communication Design

Music I like

Flamming Lips, Pixies, The Black Crowes, Demeter, Porno for Pyros, Ry Cooder, Junior Kimbrough, Townes van Zandt, T-model Ford, The Dirty Three, Bonnie Prince Billy, Primus, Faith no More, Bob Dylan, RHCP, Alice Donut, Faith no more, Mark Lanegan, Reigning Sound, Total Control;

Books I like

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Confederacy of Dunces, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, PanikHerz...;

Films I like

The man who wasn't there, No country for old man, Genova, Zidane a 21st century portrait, There will be blood, Il Postino, Festen, Straight Story, Wild at heart, White Ribbon, Dog tooth;

Communication projects I like

I like stuff we did at Poper studio. I like posters from Inkahoots. I like the zine project 23/56 from Kevin. I like many things that were submitted to Memefest, I like stuff from Cactusnetwork, I like the work of Image-shift.

Websites I like,,,,,,,,,,,,

People I like

My dear family and my wonderful friends.