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Bucks New University

AR Prospectus

It’s not often you get a brief headed up: Be brave! But that’s exactly what this client told us – followed by instructions to ‘rethink the traditional prospectus’; find ‘an exciting approach that will appeal to design-savvy Millennials/Generation Z, as well as differentiating us as a niche University’; and ‘give us a clear creative direction for our student-facing collateral, whilst also staying true to our core general brand’.

Fundamentally our challenge was to make Bucks New University’s printed prospectus work harder for less. The information was all there but it was difficult to navigate and based on a design that no longer reflected the positive and progressive nature of the University’s newly developed ‘Build a Brighter Future’ brand. We needed to reduce the size and overall cost of the prospectus, while maximising engagement and still providing a clear and thorough overview of courses and faculties.


Tasked with effecting a ground-up redesign, we set out to make the most of the new brand (which was actually still in development) and to use its various elements in a purposeful, co-ordinated and cohesive way to enable a seamless connection with the digital user experience, particularly on mobile.

We created a bold new prospectus design with an eye-catching cover. But it was inside where things got really interesting.

Until then a colour-coded polygon graphic device had been used purely as a design element. Now we developed the device to create identities for each faculty, making it easier for students to navigate the wealth of information within the prospectus. Another navigation aid was the use of varying weights of stock to differentiate sections, including a thicker ‘bookmark’ divider at the beginning of ‘Courses and Guides’, which we knew students would refer to most.

More exciting still was the introduction of augmented reality (AR) to bring the content to life and create a direct connection with the University’s online content. As well as incorporating the AR links, we advised on the kind of features it should lead to if candidates were to get the most out of the experience. Our advice was based on discussions with students from Bucks New who we’d invited to spend time with us at Penna for some real world experience and an insight into the nature of our work. This helped us develop a really thorough understanding of our audience, which of course we can also feed into future campaigns for this client.


With quality controls embedded in all Penna processes, the prospectus underwent multiple stages of checking including being proof-read by members of the creative team at every stage of its development and regular referrals to the brand guidelines, followed by final sign-off and approval from our client.  

To ensure the successful integration of digital and print, testing was vital. So our Digital Development team worked hand in hand with the third party AR provider to ensure everything worked on all devices and met the necessary penetration testing requirements, thereby guaranteeing a seamless, on-brand experience for potential students.

Mixing digital and print enabled us to drastically cut the volume of printed information without reducing valuable content overall. With pre-existing content continually being updated in real time, it remained relevant and of consistent value throughout the application cycle, ensuring greater return on investment on something whose relatively short shelf-life had always been considered an expensive, loss-making item by Bucks New University.

Equally important, we gave readers a much more immersive experience than any traditional prospectus, with 360° tours of halls, campus video guides and filmed interviews with students, alumni and academics all bringing stories to life in a compelling way.

In fact, it proved so successful in terms of engagement, delivering the information and reducing production costs, it was nominated in the category for Best Prospectus at that year’s Heist Awards.