The University of Texas at Austin
Director of Strategic Design 2001 - 2011

Brand Strategy and Management, Web Redesign, Creative Direction

Building a World Class Brand
As a kid growing up in New jersey I knew the popular University of Texas Hookem’ Horns hand sign from watching college football. But like most people, that’s all I knew about this leading public research university. When I arrived UT Austin they had what can only be explained as accidental branding. There were no brand guidelines, no messaging architecture, not even an official wordmark. This caused a unique brand problem – high awareness but low understanding. With my background in corporate branding and advertising I couldn’t wait to start building a structure that accurately reflected the mission and vision of this incredible organization.

Creating a New Digital Presence
The University of Texas at Austin's home page averaged about 200,000 unique visits a day and was the greatest opportunity the university had to communicate with a varied audience of faculty, staff and students, prospective students, parents, alumni and friends, corporate partners, media and the public. However, the site was internally focused and functioned primarily as an intranet. By 2001 the site was ready to evolve to the next level.

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Building a Creative Team

UT Austin’s Office of Public Affairs was built from scratch. I hired the best talent I could find with the goal of finding people capable of working in print and digital. Fortunately, Austin is a creative hub and I was able to find some extremely talented people to work with. The office quickly grew from a staff of 5 to 50 in a few years. The work speaks for itself. In my ten years as Director the creative team won over 30 national design awards.

© Dave Holston