30th Jun 2018
CompSoc at UoL
As president of the University of Leicester's Computing Society in 2017/18, I led a multi-award winning transformation of a growing academic student group.
As the University of Leicester Computing Society's 2016 committee announced elections for the next committee, I began to draw up my vision of what the society could become with a new approach and a motivated team.
I encouraged some talented friends to join me on my mission, and in the space of an academic year we turned CompSoc from zero to hero in the student group world, winning the University's Student Group Innovator of the Year (2018) award, and reaching the shortlist for Student Group of the Year (2018).
As well as leading the strategy for this turnaround, I also contributed heavily to the marketing materials and social media management for CompSoc, as well as collaborating with Jan Faracik on the creation and maintenance of a modern, secure website for the group.
The first step in re-inventing the Computing Society was to give it a new identity, so we started with designing a brand new logo. Coined the "Node", this new iconic graphic was designed to be used as a single identifier for a group which was previously referred to as many names and was hardly recognisable.
Usable in black or white over any colour or image, the Node is versatile, instantly recognisable and looks great as a standalone logo or as an identifying stamp on marketing graphics.
The Node design is inspired by common usage of nodes and paths to represent big data and artificial intelligence, two modern and fast-growing fields in technology. Additionally, it represents the society's goal of connecting its members in a variety of ways and aims to give those members a sense of belonging in the group.
As the beginning of CompSoc's first academic year after the rebrand loomed, the CompSoc Is For Everyone campaign was born. Designed to capture the attention of the society's entire audience, the campaign focused on sharing a series of varied messages on social media, at least one of which should be relatable to every audience member.
Using slogans starting with "CompSoc is for..." and following with identifying words like "hackers", "fun", and "women", the campaign brought together the society's traditional audience as well as groups traditionally under-represented both in the society and wider industry.
The most successful post (by social media engagement) was this one, using imagery and a lighthearted pun to highlight CompSoc's dedication to breaking down traditional gender-based barriers in the industry.
In order for CompSoc's relaunch to stand out from all the other opportunities crowding social media at the start of the academic year, CompSoc led the way for UoL's student groups by using video to introduce itself.
Making the most of limited photo and video media from previous events, and overlaying bold graphics to catch the viewer's eye, I produced a 90 second summary of what the society offers, which was ultimately viewed by hundreds of potential members.
As a group focussed on technology, it was key that CompSoc had a smart and modern web presence. Working with Jan Faracik, a fellow student with a fantastic eye for design, we co-developed a brand new website for the society, and open-sourced the code that runs it.
Jan's design work provided us with a simple, slick and maintainable website, and the design patterns used went on to shape the society's brand guidelines in greater detail.
In order to boost the society's marketing efforts and its brand as a modern, well-managed society, I implemented TLS support and security headers, and set up redirect links to other tools and services we used to run the society throughout the year.
The website was a successful part of the society's rebrand and has been tweaked and maintained by the subsequent society committee.
As CompSoc's new brand became more familiar to its wider campus audience, it built up the opportunity to be more playful and friendly. This was an approach that worked particularly well with those who were unsure about joining the society or attending their first event - as we made efforts to show that the people running the group were just friendly fellow students.
Examples of this marketing strategy included posts like this one - Pardon the pun for our table at Refreshers Fair. The image allowed us to make a topical joke, whilst showing what our stand would look like and some friendly faces they could look out for on the day.
The annual Multi-Science Bar Crawl is a highlight in Leicester's student group calendar, and in 2018 CompSoc took the lead on organising and marketing the event, alongside a collection of other great student groups.
Word about the event needed to reach far and wide across campus, and it needed to make an impression. I produced a simple and bold brand for the event which was in-keeping with modern styles for university social events, and with that created a short teaser video in both landscape and portrait formats, ready for societies to share across their array of modern social media profiles.
The event was a great success, pulling in students from all the sciences subject groups, as well as friends and fellow students from beyond. CompSoc gained a great deal of recognition for its marketing of the event.
Student groups are about developing communities and having fun. In efforts to publicise the society to future members and offer old members something to remember their experience with (in equal measure), I led the production of a 2-minute highlights reel of CompSoc's activities in the 2017/18 academic year.
Featuring plenty of point-of-view video footage, the reel gives the viewer a real insight into membership of the society, and provides a positive, friendly summary of the year's events and activities.
To bring a fantastic year for the Computing Society to a close, CompSoc was thrilled to receive the University of Leicester's Student Group Innovator of the Year award.
Pictured here with Students' Union staff members, the committee was over the moon to find that our collective hard work to reinvent the society for the future of technology in academia had been successful enough to earn us an award for it.