Petroc: Opening Eyes

Our radical rebrand elevated Petroc to a category of one.






North Devon and East Devon Colleges provide academic and vocational education to students from 16 upwards. Following a merger, the newly combined institution had no over-arching character to help differentiate it against the region’s many competing colleges.

Interbrand’s challenge was to radically rebrand the newly formed institution, raise the profile of the new college, and reposition it as a leading institution above and beyond the reach of the immediate region.

Through a series of audits and interviews, we discovered the core strength underlying both college experiences: The ability to open people’s eyes to the raft of opportunities out in the world. This insight formed the foundation for the brand – Opening Eyes.

Next we tapped into the local history to ensure that while the solution demonstrated change, it was also housed within local relevance and meaning. We established naming and language workshops to ensure that the staff, students, and stakeholders generated the new name.

Petroc was the final name selected. As the sixth Century Celtic Christian Saint, who ministered in Devon and Cornwall, the name has equity throughout the area – and yet, it also sounds contemporary. It signals one single college, and coupled with a fresh and dynamic visual identity, truly helps demonstrate radical change.

The supergraphic, which is distilled from elements of the region’s topography and colors, also redefines traditional notions of Devon, giving the landscape a warm, vibrant, contemporary feel. Never used in its entirety, the image style applies a series of active cuts, honing in on detail as opposed to full, traditional college imagery style.

A core element of the project is the unique “wordstack.” This three-word headline system is designed to identify and express the core of the subject, person, activity, or experience. The system is uniform, but the creative options are infinite. It opens people’s eyes to a new college, by playing in a very different space, with its own rules. Also, the wordstack, when used with our guidelines, is clear and easy to adopt and create internally – allowing Petroc, which has a restricted budget, to internally create new collateral on their own.

A vision that asks for radical change is never going to be easily accepted. We knew this from the start, and this was part of the reason as to why we insisted on a collaborative process, heavily involving the staff and students in the actual brand creation. The change has created quite a stir within the local community, but we don’t see this as a negative. Change isn’t change if it isn’t a little uncomfortable and challenging.

Our client is extremely happy with the work delivered and recognizes that we have delivered the message of radical change. From the start they were determined not to look like “just another college.” Petroc is in a category of one.