Project update

There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes activity since the last update. Last fall, a task force was formed to review brand platforms for William & Mary. The goal was to understand how our community and others perceive the university. Two key tools were planned for this review – focus groups and a broad survey to all of William & Mary’s constituents.

And, although the visual identity project has been underway for some time, it was important to take advantage of the opportunity to test the seal and cypher along with the message platforms to gain quantitative data to support the ultimate selection of a logo.

The broad survey results are undergoing data analysis and we should be planning a logo roll out before too long.

Stay tuned.

Slow and steady wins the race

We’re here and the visual identity project steadily moves along, promise!

So, let’s recap just a bit…the approved design roadmap included the following recommendations:

  • create a single logo that would include a historic element (seal or cypher) + a William & Mary wordmark
  • retain the seal and cypher (one for the logo, one for formal uses)
  • continue using the current William & Mary wordmark for now (revisit design for logo)
  • retain the use of the Tribe and Griffin logos for all things athletic
  • retain some “acceptable marks” for flexibility (those in use on buildings, vehicles, etc.)
  • retire marks of little historic significance to William & Mary

The first task was to identify which historic element (seal or cypher) should be included in the logo. After examining the advantages and disadvantages of both, the Visual Identity Design Subcommittee presented a recommendation that supported the cypher (pdf). This was approved by the Visual Identity Committee, Communications Working Group and the President’s Communication Committee.

What about the seal? It is a significant historic mark and it will live on. It will be used less frequently, possibly in more formal uses but the exact recommendations will be made as the project and style guide develop.

Next, the design subcommittee got to work on logo concepts. Each member of the committee contributed designs, they tweaked and then they tweaked some more. At the end of the process, they were ready with four concepts to present to the oversight groups as well as the College Communications Council. All were well received and the Visual Identity Committee received approval to move forward. And that brings us to the present. The next step will include creating mockups of the four concepts incorporating sub-brands and then presenting those to the administration and school deans. The goal is to select the concept that will work best as a primary logo for the university but also for graduate schools and departments.

After a concept has been selected, it will serve as a foundation for a family of marks that will be created to support the wide variety of needs across campus (merchandise, print publications, letterhead, business cards, etc.). And while the Tribe and Griffin logos will remain in use, we will work with Athletics to identify ways they can communicate the William & Mary brand on uniforms and other materials.

Simultaneously, we’ll begin development of a visual identity style guide that will provide direction on the use of marks, colors, etc. This will be an evolving guide as the family of marks grows.

Tina Coleman

We’re back!

The Visual Identity Committee took time during the fall semester to regroup after the departure of Susan Evans and focus on regaining the momentum achieved by the Committee last year. Cindy Baker, Associate Director of Creative Services and Carolyn K. Davis, Director of Auxiliary Services, were appointed co-chairs of the Committee.

We held our first meeting on December 5 to assess where we were and how best to move forward. The consensus was to divide the work ahead in two phases. Phase one will be to take the recommendations approved in the Design Roadmap for Visual Identity (pdf) and build a website accordingly. The second phase will be to delve into the first two recommendations concerning a single logo that includes a historic graphic element and wordmark along with further discussion of the use of the coat of arms and cypher. The design subcommittee has been convened to address these issues.

The Visual Identity Committee will continue to keep you posted. Thank you for following us!

Carolyn K. Davis

Audiences tested.

Visual identity work is moving along. We are fortunate to have many within the William &  Mary community who are interested in our work. We have officially completed our current round of focus group testing. Although, I expect we are not done done. Future decisions and recommendations will need an audience testing phase and we’re not likely to be out of practice when it’s time for more focus groups.

Here’s some summary info about the focus groups we used for audience testing:

  • 9 focus groups were conducted during the period of April 15 – May 24, 2011
  • A total of 84 people participated in the focus group meetings
  • 44 of the 84 participants (more than half) were alumni of William & Mary (Note: 3 of the 44 currently work at W&M.)
  • Each focus group session lasted between 30 – 45 minutes
  • The total number of participants for each audience category:
    • Law School Alumni Association Board – 18
    • Faculty – 7 (two groups)
    • Staff – 9
    • Professionals and Professional Faculty – 13
    • Students – 11 (two groups)
    • W&M Foundation Board of Directors – 11
    • Tribe Club Board – 15

The next step is to take our tested recommendations to various campus communication committees that meet in June including the College Communications Council, the Communications Working Group, and the President’s Communication Council.

- Susan T. Evans

Focus group invitations out.

Over the past several days, I’ve been scheduling small focus group sessions related to the visual identity project. We want to audience test some of the ideas we have included in a design road map for William & Mary. So far, we have 8 more sessions on the books and we’ve invited about 90 to participate.

  • Faculty groups – April 25, May 2 and May 3
  • Student groups – May 3 and May 6
  • Staff group – April 27
  • Professional faculty group – May 3
  • Tribe Club board meeting – May 24

A few members of the visual identity committee will join me as we facilitate these sessions. Thank you to Kate Slevin, Suzanne Seurattan, and Joel Pattison.

- Susan T. Evans

We held our first focus group.

Last Friday, the visual identity committee held a focus group session at the Law School. Thanks to Jaime Welch-Donahue and Sally Kellam for allocating a bit of time on the busy agenda of the Law School Association board meeting. The visual identity committee has talked a lot about getting feedback from a broad range of stakeholders and this session at the Law School was our first.

We began the focus group meeting by asking the 18 participants (all lawyers!) to complete a nine-question paper survey. We wanted to gauge their initial impressions about several marks currently in use at William & Mary. Providing this list of words, we asked them to indicate what two impressions each mark evoked:

  • academic excellence
  • athletic
  • historic
  • innovative
  • majestic
  • modern
  • open
  • prestigious
  • revolutionary
  • tradition

During the next several weeks, we’ll be doing a whole series of these focus groups. We’ll meet with faculty members, students, staff, and more alumni.

- Susan T. Evans

Visual Identity = a history lesson

“You can’t buy a legacy of this sort. You have to live it.”
William & Mary President Taylor Reveley

William & Mary celebrated its 318th birthday last month. The second-oldest college in the U.S. is the only American college or university granted a coat of arms by the College of Arms in London. The work of the visual identity committee is characterized by our respect for William & Mary’s most historic marks.

We are especially grateful to the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library. University Archivist Amy Schindler is a tremendous resource to us. The history of W&M seals and logos is fascinating and I think we all feel grateful that the university is represented by marks of such historical significance.

This 1976 study of the coat of arms (PDF) is great reading for the history-inclined among you.

- Susan T. Evans

Small focus groups.

During the last meeting of the Visual Identity Committee, we decided to use small focus groups to support our commitment to broadly engaging the campus in our work. Additionally, we would like to use feedback from these small group meetings to test and confirm some of the decisions we are making. Our design subcommittee has done some great work and we’d like the chance to share it more broadly.

I have already contacted the executive committees of several stakeholder groups. We are soliciting names of individuals to include in focus groups from:

  • Faculty Assembly
  • Professional Faculty Assembly
  • Staff Assembly
  • Student Assembly

We are also planning to put together some alumni focus groups. Several of us on the Visual Identity Committee work with boards and advisory groups whose members include local alumni.

If you are out there reading this blog and would like to participate, say so!

- Susan T. Evans

Should I be worried?

During the past several weeks, I was the guest speaker at a number of meetings and had the chance to offer an update about the W&M visual identity project. Should I be worried that the topic of fewer logos and marks for William & Mary is apparently not controversial?

Attendance at my campus presentations included a wide range of individuals – staff, administrators, and faculty. I talk about the fact that we have too many logos at William & Mary. I even state that in order to have fewer, we’ll have to retire some. So far, people are nodding in agreement.

Perhaps I owe a debt of gratitude to popular culture. In recent years, there is a better understanding of brand. People seem more aware that a consistent impression about your organization matters. Is this all because so many of us watch Mad Men?

Regardless, I’m relieved. Now, on to the next phase. We’ll be putting together small focus groups with current students and alumni. We plan to use the focus groups to confirm early recommendations about the William & Mary wordmark and logo.

- Susan T. Evans