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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Administration strives towards graphic unity

Published: April 4, 2014
Section: News

Over the past year, Andrew Flagel, senior vice president of students and enrollment, and Ellen de Graffenreid, senior vice president for Communications, have eagerly begun planning a new graphic identity for Brandeis.

In an email to The Hoot, Flagel reported, “There isn’t any plan to change the institutional ‘brand’—the effort focuses on our graphic images and recruitment messages.”

De Graffenreid was able to expand upon the subject over the course of this week in an interview with The Hoot. “Most universities update their graphic identity—the look and feel of university materials, web sites, logos, etc.—about every 10 years. Brandeis does not have a history of doing this, unlike all of our peer institutions,” she said. According to Graffenreid, the timing for this venture is finally right.

“It is a great time to create a research-based graphic identity and a set of messages to test with our key audiences, because the university is starting to implement the strategic plan. The strategic plan provides a fantastic definition of what Brandeis aspires to be, what our current strengths are and does so in a highly inclusive way that involved faculty, staff and students in the process,” she said.

De Graffenreid thinks new, unified graphic messages would be a great vehicle to help promote the strategic plan. “These graphic identity and messaging efforts build on Brandeis’ identity and will help us express this distinctiveness to audiences who aren’t as familiar with our great history and culture,” she said.

Many different fonts and colors can be seen on display at Brandeis, from the giant banner on the bridge overlooking South Street to the logos on sweatshirts in the Brandeis bookstore. This disunity in appearance is what has prompted the need for a new graphic identity.

“Brandeis has a great deal of variety in how we present ourselves, and studies and experience show that a more unified ‘look and feel’ can help increase recognition of universities among their key target audiences, including prospective students,” said de Graffenreid.

This even applies to the Brandeis mascot. Officially, Brandeis represents itself as the Judges, and the university has the honor of being the only institution with that particular mascot. But the owl, seen on campus at places like the Hoot Market and Ollie’s, is another sort of mascot that other students connect with.

“The owl is an unofficial ‘spirit mark’ or symbol of the university and is important to many students and alumni,” said de Graffenreid. Flagel even has a collection of owl statues and figurines inside his office.

“While the owl is not our official/athletics mascot, there are lots of ways that it might be used in student and alumni communications, and we are exploring how this might be done in a more consistent way,” said de Graffenreid.

The final goal in revitalizing Brandeis’ graphic identity is to reach consistency and unity. “The current situation at Brandeis has evolved over the years, and the goal of updating how it presents itself is to assist various parts of the university with tools for presenting their work and accomplishments in a way that is both recognizable as Brandeis, and that helps highlight their distinctive achievements,” said de Graffenreid.

Brandeis will soon welcome students into helping create this newfound identity. “We are holding three town hall meetings for students, faculty and staff to hear from our research partners and our graphic identity team. There will be opportunities to provide feedback on a few different concepts for how we talk about ourselves and for an updated ‘look and feel,’” said de Graffenreid.

The meetings will be held on Thursday, April 24 both in the afternoon and evening and on Friday, April 25. All students are invited to voice their opinion.