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Durham University Case Study

Durham University is one the highest ranked and oldest universities in the world. Located in the United Kingdom and existing in the highly competitive higher education marketplace, the University supports a cohort of almost 20,000 students with 4,300 staff.


Higher Education


1 campus
2 international satellite offices
26 academic departments
17 colleges


United Kingdom


Departments and business units can self-serve their content needs, enabling central marketing to operate at a more strategic level, rather than managing ad-hoc requests for support.


Durham University’s central marketing team was struggling to keep up with an increasing demand from its academic departments, colleges and services for marketing collateral, while still trying to be strategic and meet the organisational and departmental KPIs and needs.


Outfit empowers the wider Durham University staff to produce their own on-brand materials, with their own strategic messaging, without being limited by central marketing.


With more time the marketing team is now a strategic partner to other department staff and is able to focus on wider university challenges. In addition, staff feel empowered to create their own content and are closer to achieving their goals without blocks from marketing.


The beauty of Outfit is that it actually allows people to self-serve easily, and create their own marketing materials without us needing to worry it’ll be off brand. This allows our team to focus on the strategic side of marketing and communications.

Rebecca Richardson — Marketing Operations Manager, Marketing and Communications Office, Durham University


Content pieces exported


Hours saved


Cost savings


Durham’s central marketing team supports numerous objectives from various different departments within the university. With a conservative budget and their own KPIs and objectives, marketing was more reactive than proactive to incoming requests for supporting collateral from departments, colleges and professional services, which made relations prickly. Be it helping with recruitment materials or general brand awareness, the marketing team were sometimes considered the brand police and “blockers” when it came to local collateral creation, leading stakeholders to become frustrated.

In addition to never ending requests and an increasing workload, the Durham marketing team had been working with an incumbent solution that promised the flexibility to develop templates they required across their organisation, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

After taking a step back, overhauling the university’s brand look and feel and positioning from a looser set of rules to a definitive set of guidelines, the team knew they needed a platform that was budget friendly, flexible and provided a self-service option to ensure the new brand was rolled out easily, and flawlessly across the university.


We needed a solution which allowed us to be able to say to people, "Sorry, we don’t have the financial resource to pay for you to have something designed, but actually, here's another solution. We have on-brand templates here; you can customise them in various ways, and it's always going to look like it's been produced by central marketing or from one of our designer partners.”

Rebecca Richardson — Marketing Operations Manager, Marketing and Communications Office , Durham University


Durham needed a solution to:

  • Have the ability for all staff to self-serve their department’s marketing needs, for example brochures, social tiles, banners, posters, leaflets, etc
  • Use flexible templates that could be utilised across multiple departments, colleges and professional services but that must always remain on-brand
  • Be easy to use and flexible enough to make changes without needing the marketing team’s help
  • Enable marketing to still have input and overview of content, but be seen as strategic partners in the process, rather than “blockers” to creation
  • Keep costs down and enable the prioritisation of when to use external design partners
  • Support to ensure users were trained, felt confident and any platform errors were resolved

After a detailed procurement tender process involving a significant group of staff stakeholders, Outfit was chosen as the solution to enable Durham University’s marketing team to roll out the new brand and help departments and staff self-serve their content needs.


Strategically it was the right time for us because we were ready to roll out the new brand. I think if we hadn't done that brand piece of work, then we might have found ourselves in a very different situation where we wouldn't really have had a comprehensive set of guidelines to build the templates and platform around and we’d have faced the same challenges, just within a system. The new, stronger positioning really was a driver to introduce Outfit.

Rebecca Richardson — Marketing Operations Manager, Marketing and Communications Office, Durham University


Durham University is experiencing many of the benefits associated with implementing a brand management and templating platform into their workflow.

Significant budget and time savings for the marketing department likely sit at the top of the list, with 4,682 hours of external and internal time to work with external design partners to produce content saved in 2 years. If this was outsourced, estimates suggest the content would have cost Durham £374,560.

With a wider team now able to self-service their content needs, central marketing has more time and head space to focus on the strategic areas of importance and brand building. And, they’re now seen by their peers as strategic advisors rather than “brand police'' and “blockers” - which makes coming to work every day a lot easier!

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