Duke University and the City of Durham have had a long and not always happy relationship. Yet underneath it all is the plain fact that they need each other. Duke is better because it is in Durham, and Durham benefits from having Duke in town. The Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs wanted to rebrand so it could capture the vision of new University and Office leadership of a better, more inclusive, more understanding, more productive relationship with Durham and the communities surrounding the Duke campus.
The work we did was focused around a new identity for The Office of Durham and Community Affairs. The current branding was traditional, and very much in keeping with the formality of Duke University.
We sought to display the adaptability of the Office along with the idea of blending or intertwining the capacity and needs of each organization to the maximum benefit of both.
The Strategy Behind the Work
There is frequently tension in the “town-gown” relationships between local communities and the universities that reside in them; few, however, become national news. The infamous “Duke Lacrosse” incident, while now many years in the past, continues to reverberate within Duke’s relationship with Durham. There are other, more recent incidents that have continued to stress the relationship.
The Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs was created to address such points of tension, and to create multiple platforms in a variety of areas to build bridges of understanding and cooperation with Durham. Both organizations desire to build a better Durham. Much progress has been made. While there are ups and downs, the overall trend is upward.
They are masters of improvisation and flexibility. Whatever they need to change or improve or meld they are willing to do so.
As we interviewed everyone involved, it the commitment to goodwill on all sides became evident. And a key strength of this Office was constantly on display: adaptability and the skill to create harmony on all sides.