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Durham University

Marketing and Communications

Working with partners on the Communications Framework

We want to produce you with the right level of marketing support and guidance. So, when you first contact us it would be helpful if you have looked at and completed our Creative Brief template. It breaks down the important information our design partners need into manageable chunks, helping you to communicate exactly what it is you are looking to achieve. It would be useful to know a few key facts, such as your budget, target audience, human resource available to deliver your project, and any important deadlines.

Processes, hints and tips

Approval process

  • Establish your internal approval process for the project; who in your department/college/function needs to approve the document/copy, and who has final sign off of the project?
  • Your internal approver has the responsibility to ensure that they are happy with the quality, content and tone of voice of the material and how it represents the University. We are happy to help and advise on tone of voice.

Writing the brief

Before approaching a framework partner with a project requiring a design element, please complete a creative brief and send it to for review. At this point we will help you to identify a Marketing and Communication lead who will be able to provide help and guidance throughout the duration of your project.

  • The brief should provide our design partners with a detailed description and clear aims and objectives for what you want to commission
  • In addition you might want to provide ideas of imagery and if using our Image Management System include photo ID numbers
  • The brief should also clearly state a budget (wherever possible) and delivery date for your materials.

If you have any questions or need help in completing the creative brief, please contact

Once the brief is agreed with you, we’ll suggest suitable creative partners to you to work with. A unique code will be added to the brief which helps us keep track of your project.

This approach will reduce the number of editorial changes required later in the process and speed up the production of your marketing materials


  • Plot a schedule working backwards from your overall deadline. Consider things such as your staff resource, business continuity and of course known busy periods in the academic year, eg Induction Week, Congregation and exams
  • Use your final deadline to draft a clear timeline, plotting key dates and when the first visuals are needed by. Agree the timeline with your internal approver, design agency and printer from the framework
  • Flag any deadline slips with all involved and identify where time can be recovered to bring the project back on track or if possible look to revise the final deadline.


  • Proof read your copy and have sign off from your internal approver before sending to your design agency. Only submit final copy. It is not the role of your partner agency or to check copy for accuracy or consistency
  • Remember to always check University Facts and Figures as these change regularly throughout the year
  • Check against best practice guidance on the University’s house style and further guidance is available on The Guardian style guide.


  • Use the first stage PDF to pass the design style through your internal approver.
  • It is more cost effective to make design ‘tweaks’ earlier in the process than to alter at a later stage. All creatives supplied by our framework partners will follow our brand guidelines
  • Any amendments which need to be made to the copy or design once the process has started are the responsibility of the internal approver to request and check once a revised PDF has been supplied
  • Please don’t assume that all requested changes have been made; the very nature of design allows room for human error, therefore we strongly advise that you keep a documented record of changes requested to make the checking process easier.

Marketing and Communications Office – our involvement in the process

  • Our framework partners/design agency copy in the email address in correspondence with you. We have sight of all design work produced by partners on our framework and any print work directed through them. This helps us to ensure objectives are met and items are on brand
  • We’ll have sight of items at an early stage in the process; we use this opportunity to look over the document from a brand perspective ensuring that the design fits within guidelines and that the tone of voice has been considered. We do not offer a proofreading function; it is the responsibility of the internal approver in your department/college/function to ensure copy is checked for spelling/grammatical errors, as well as for factual accuracy, before supplying copy to your design partner
  • When signed off by all approvers, a code is issued by Marketing and Communications and is placed discretely on the artwork, for example: WARM/02/13/050. We record these numbers which speeds up the retrieval of artwork for future reprints/revisions
  • The email address is checked at least once in a 24-hour period. If you need urgent assistance please get in touch with us via telephone. We will then try our best to check this as soon as possible for you. (The is not monitored over weekends, bank holidays or whilst the University is closed).

Need an image?

A growing number of images from across the University are now available to download via our Image Management System. Please be sure to familiarise yourself with the user guide prior to use to get the most from the system.