When students return to campus this fall, chances are that the first changes they'll take note of will be the functioning elevators in High Rise North, a new fitness center and the almost-complete Huntsman Hall.
But if they look a little more carefully, they will also notice that the bold-faced and capitalized "PENN" logo that currently graces the cover of admissions brochures, t-shirts and signs will no longer be the University's signature mark.
Instead, students will have to get used to a new logo that has swapped the "PENN" with a less-obtrusive "Penn," and, in the process, has tacked on an image of the University's shield.
As part of a long-term project to create consistency among images that the University's separate schools and departments use to represent themselves, this logo will be rolled out and incorporated into everything from Penn sweatshirts and departmental letterheads to a new Web site over the next few years.
"Awareness of the Penn branding has a direct impact on the perceived value of a Penn education," Vice President for Communications Lori Doyle explained. "That's why the University's graphic identity... [is] important, because [it has] an impact on brand awareness and ultimately our reputation."
Of course, adopting this "new look" didn't happen overnight.
However, after doing some external research about how outsiders' perceive Penn, administrators realized that there would be many more hurdles in accomplishing this goal than they had originally expected.
In a nationwide survey of approximately 1,000 men and women, administrators reached a conclusion that they had been dreading -- over half of the respondents affiliated the word "Penn" with Penn State University.
Moreover, further research revealed that only 21 percent of those surveyed identified Penn as an Ivy League school, compared to the 89 percent who knew that Harvard was a part of this group.
Not surprisingly, 19 percent of respondents said that Penn State was a part of this elite group of universities, which administrators have speculated to result from confusion in names.
"After doing the research, we saw that there is significant confusion between Penn and Penn State, and most Americans do not realize that Penn is in the Ivy League," Doyle said.
But when administrators and consultants at Deutsch Advertising sat down to review the different emblems of the University's twelve different graduate and professional schools, not to mention the Health System, they made another discovery -- there was no consistency in the branding of these separate branches.
According to University President Judith Rodin, this lack of a common Penn logo is very evident throughout the Universities different components.
"None of the schools and none of the centers and athletics and admissions use anything that looks the same," Rodin said. "I see every color of red and blue imaginable, all kinds of different names and all of the schools' materials look different.
"No wonder people don't know who we are -- we don't look like we're the same organization," Doyle said. "We realized that the University needs to do a better job in this area."
In order to approach this problem, Deutsch took on the feat of developing a logo for the University into its own hands.
By pinpointing a target audience -- ranging from prospective students to donors and Trustees -- and a distinct personality that Penn embodies, Deutsch consultants were able to come up with a new image for the University that would distinguish it from peer institutions, not to mention Penn State.
"Penn has to evolve its character to reflect a stronger sense of academia, while still holding onto its edge," Doyle explained.
After designing a series of logos that they felt best reflected the essence of Penn, the people at Deutsch presented administrators with about seven choices of potential brandings.
"We considered six or seven different logo options, and put the final two out to Trustees, alumni and students," Doyle said. "Out of 400 responses, it was a dead fifty-fifty split."
So in the end, administrators let Deutsch make the final decision.
"We thought that Deutsch knew about this a lot more than we did, and they chose the one that they thought was best reflective of the University's hip, urban and intellectual image," Doyle said.
And although it is hard to really say whether this new image -- complete with the Penn shield and different lettering -- will accomplish what administrators want, Rodin thinks that the new logo will have a widespread impact.
"When you look around the campus and get materials from Penn, by the end of the year you should really all know that it's coming from the same place," Rodin said.Comments powered by Disqus
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