The 2016-20 communication practice replaces the branding strategy of 9 March 2011. The communication practice is aimed at ensuring greater focus on research and education in the university’s communication, the need for which was expressed in connection with the problem analysis.
The analysis also indicated that there is widespread, cross-university support for the university to be presented as a single unified organisation. For this reason, the communication practice specifies that all academic units must ensure that their communication contributes to the common university profile.
The communication practice represents a departure from several of the central principles of the branding strategy, replacing them with a more decentralised approach to communication. Unlike the 2011 branding strategy, which was prescriptive at the microlevel, the communication practice should be understood as a framework which gives individual units the scope to develop concrete action plans for external and internal communication as needed. The revised policy also opens up new possibilities with regard to the web design programme, using the logo and special profiling activities.
The focus of the branding strategy was centralised, with AU as the sole owner of the university ‘brand’. Under the branding strategy, individual units were not to be actively branded in external communication, and focus on departments, schools and faculties was to be toned down as much as possible. Only departments (Aarhus BSS, HE and ST)/schools (Arts) were allowed to include their names in the logo.
The focus of the communication practice is local: the starting point is the needs of the academic units, and profile-building activities are permitted without reference to organisational level. For example, special profile-building activities are already taking place in three academic units at different levels of the organisation: Aarhus BSS, a faculty; the Danish School of Education, a school; and ‘the engineering area’, which is is cross-organisational.
In relation to the website, the communication practice breaks with the branding strategy’s principle that the university’s external website must be organised in terms of four ‘product portals’ for the university’s four strategic core services (research, education, talent development and knowledge exchange). New design programme for au.dk
In relation to design, it is now possible for more units and programmes to use their names with the logo, in some cases at the top of the logo. The university seal has also been assigned a more prominent position. The deans in consultation with their management teams are responsible for decisions regarding the local implementation of the design programme at the faculties. Aarhus BSS has an independent profile-building strategy.
The problem analysis revealed the challenges facing internal communication at the university, particularly in relation to communication from management to employees and involvement of employees in decision-making processes. To address these problems, the communication practice includes recommendations aimed at cultivating good conditions for dialogue on the development of the university in addition to emphasising the importance of relevant, timely information as a precondition for a good work and study environment.