Southwestern Develops New Branding Standards

Southwestern Develops New Branding Standards

During the fall semester of the 2009-2010 school year, Southwestern’s marketing team, working with the marketing and public relations advisory committee, developed new branding standards.

The purpose of a branding standards guide covers three areas:
1. Strategy—to strengthen the identity and brand recognition of Southwestern;
2. Design—to provide a clear and concise guide of how the logo, wordmarks, and tagline should be used in a variety of media;
3. Management—to provide templates on layout and design for documents.
The advisory committee asked Elia King, graphic design manager, to present the new Branding Standards Guide to faculty and staff. This was done at an all-University meeting. The response was very positive. The Branding Standards Guide was also presented, in draft form, to the Southwestern Board of Trustees. The Board was enthusiastic in their support of the new guidelines and voted unanimously to support them.

Two significant changes have come from this. First, in both verbal and written communication, faculty and staff are encouraged to refer to the University as Southwestern, rather than SWAU (often pronounced “Swa-oo”).

“SWAU is not something to market and take seriously,” says Jessica Lozano, director of marketing and public relations. “It’s more of an internal code. If we practice the change internally, then the change is more likely to happen.”

“Some may find this a little difficult, as we have referred to our school as SWAU for a number of years,” says Gary Temple, vice president for university advancement. “But we are asking that faculty and staff, as they write letters, add copy to the website, or talk in public, remember to refer to Southwestern, rather than SWAU.”

The second, perhaps more visible change has come with the school’s new logo. King feels strongly that the change to a simpler, stronger design of the library’s clock tower will help the school’s image. One big reason why he felt the need for change is that the old logo was used in a variety of forms by different departments. Another was that the old logo was “technology driven, rather than idea driven.”

“The old logo had details that were inconsistent,” says King. “The face of the clock was abstract, and when moving the logo from one medium to another, it was hard to keep all the elements consistent.”

But branding is more than just a logo. “Branding is as much what you do as who you say you are,” says Lozano. “If you practice something different, it just weakens the brand.”

Branding includes the school and those who work here using more professional-looking stationery and business cards. It’s appearing professional in public, with a renewed focus on what and how the school communicates.

Another example of the new branding can be seen at the revamped University website (http://swau.edu). Lozano sees the site and the department pages as a critical point for a unified message. “Whatever we say there creates the University,” she says.
King agrees. “The things we practice become who we are. We want to be seen, not as a collection of separate departments, but moving together toward a singular vision.”

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