Every day, the editorial staff at the UK wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? A weekly look behind the scenes.

There are a lot of fancy words for it: format strategy, visual identity, or, even more elegantly: corporate identity.

But we just call it a ‘house style’. That might sound old-fashioned and stale, but at the same time it’s kind of comforting and warm. Pleasant. So, house style it is. In other words: how do you present yourself? How do you show yourself? What do you want to project?

A proper, well-made house style is subtle. You don’t notice it, but it does leave a lasting impression. You’re walking around and see a pink square with a T in it and immediately think: Hey, I need to call my mum… Or: Whoa, a shell. How much gas do I still have?

I think it’s quite clever, that kind of branding. It’s a term that works both in English and in Dutch.


We don’t spend hundreds of thousands of euros on it. But the UK also has a house style, and relies on branding. Up until a few months ago, our logo consisted of the letters UK on a red background. Now, they are on a black background. No one really noticed, which is exactly how we want it.

The essence remained the same, and that’s what counts. Or maybe nobody cares. But that’s just a theory…

One of the tenets of branding is that the house style is consistently applied. The logo on Coca-Cola’s buildings is the exact same as the one on the business cards, the letterhead, the uniforms, the labels and (of course!) the Coca-Cola University.

That is something we kind of failed at at the UK. Our videos still had the old logo with the red background. Had, past tense. We changed that this week. The videos have a new ‘look’: more modern, fresh, more animated, and with a black background – nothing too flashy, but subtle. The way it should be done.

The new house style has been implemented. Entirely. Completely. Errr… I just realised while writing this week’s ‘At the UK’ that we did miss a little something. I’m not gonna tell you, but if you catch it, feel free to tweet or facebook about it.

Nonsensical slogans

Slogans are also part of a house style. Dutch universities’ slogans came under fire a year ago in the ‘stupidity rankings’ by the Platform for the Reform of Dutch Universities (H.NU). The platform posited that universities compete with each other with nonsensical slogans (thought up by extremely expensive agencies) such as ‘Excelling in freedom’, ‘We are U’, ‘Challenge the future’ and ‘Born leaders reach for infinity’.

That last slogan, by the way, was ranked as the worst one. It’s the RUG’s slogan.

The slogan at the top of the UK newsletter – ’Independent. Critical. Trustworthy.’ – will not be changing. Because we will always be those things.

Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief



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