University of Warwick brand story

of Warwick —
case study

Positioning, story & values


The way ahead for universities


Warwick is in the top 10 of UK universities and number 64 in the world. Part of the Russell Group of research-focused universities, Warwick combines knowledge creation and higher education with a track record of innovation and industry partnership. Their campus community of over 30,000 students and around 7,000 staff and annual turnover of more than £800 million also makes them one of the biggest businesses and employers in the Midlands. 


In a challenging economic and cultural climate, and with their 60th birthday on the horizon, Warwick’s leadership wanted to reaffirm their ambitions for the future. They asked Undivided to work on a new positioning, story and values that could help set Warwick apart from the competition, attract the best talent and lead the sector. 

Time to step up

Over the past 20 years, student fees and marketisation have disrupted higher education in the UK. Brexit, Covid and rising cost are making it harder to plan ahead and the changing political landscape has put universities in the cross-fire of the culture wars. While the world is crying out for credible hope and answers to the challenges we’re all facing, the sector is often framed as distant, disconnected and elitist; with commercial pressures making universities feel more like degree factories and less like beacons of light.


We saw an opportunity for Warwick to step up and lead a different conversation, to go back to their challenger roots and reframe the role of universities and a university education for the future. To show that instrumental and intrinsic value are not mutually exclusive.

Going back to go forward

The university of Warwick was founded in 1965, one of a set of brand-new universities built to help get Britain back on its feet after the war. The country needed more graduates, so Warwick opened its doors wider, bringing young people from different parts of society into higher education for the first time. The economy needed a competitive boost, so Warwick worked closely with industry to drive innovation and growth. 


From that radical start, and with a rock-solid commitment to the highest academic standards, Warwick rose quickly to the top of the UK university rankings, establishing itself as a respected research institute and teaching centre. Now it was time to rediscover their founding spirit and reboot it for the 21st century, to stimulate new energy and innovation and set Warwick apart from the competition. 

What we discovered

We worked hands-on with over 500 students, alumni, academics, professional services and campus staff to understand what makes Warwick special, what was great and what needed to change. We talked to community leaders, politicians and business partners. We explored the competitive sector and researched how people outside perceived the university and higher education in general. What we found was an organisation that had made it from launch to the top of its sector in barely two generations, fuelled by youthful idealism and ambition, an organisation that was now looking for a new story to inspire the next 60 years.


Times have changed, the economic climate is more risky and today’s Warwick is a much bigger, more established and complex organisation than it was when it made its name as an entrepreneurial young upstart. But we could see that Warwick’s founding principles were still alive and well. Their continued dedication to widening participation exemplified by the Warwick Scholars programme that works with schools to make university accessible for young people from all backgrounds. The same hands-on, no-nonsense relationship with industry. The same commitment to world-class research and education. 


Students told us how important idealism still was for them, in a world obsessed with targets, results and starting salaries, and we could see the sector needed a brave, progressive voice. All we had to do was find the words that could reignite that Warwick spirit of innovation and challenge and aim it at the future 


We point the way ahead


We all have it in us to make a better world

In a nutshell

We are the University of Warwick. Born in the 60s, we’ve always been a forward facing organisation. Today is no different, we’re still here to point the way ahead.


As the world faces a future of faster, more profound change, with all the possibilities, pressures and uncertainty that brings, we know the role of higher education will be more vital than ever. We do what we do at Warwick because, even in the face of all this uncertainty, we believe we humans all have it in us to find the answers and make a better world. Especially when we’re powered by knowledge, curiosity, creativity and compassion.  


We wrote a Warwick story as a manifesto for change and as a challenge to the sector. Each of the 10 chapters explores a different aspect of ‘the way ahead’ and sets out the university’s ambitions and principles. 


And we worked with employees and the university leadership team to create a new set of values and behaviours that could help inspire and underpin the kind of working culture Warwick will need to bring their purpose and belief to life. 

“This is the second time I’ve had the pleasure of working with Undivided. In both instances, I observed their unparalleled ability to listen deeply, which enables them to get to the essence of an organisation. This, combined with their lyrical use of language, means that our purpose, belief and values are unique to Warwick and deeply resonant with every corner of the University. They've given us a narrative to talk about our past and how it inspires and sustains our future.”

— Rachel Sandby-Thomas, Registrar, University of Warwick