Madeleine Danusiar|Staff Writer
This August, Whitworth University announced its new logo to replace the old logo of torch and flame. Starting last fall, a team in University Communications began creating new options and asking for response from a variety of Whitworth community members.
“We don’t refer to this as rebrand,” communications director Nancy Hines said. “The purpose in why we did the work was how can we tell the existing Whitworth story in a deeper, more meaningful and compelling way? We call it a Brand Refresh because we were looking for elements that no matter who we are talking to, or who we are telling our story to, whether it’s prospective students or current students or alums, what are those golden threads that we can weave through that really capture the essence of what Whitworth is.”
The process was a budget-neutral project, meaning no new funds outside of the allocated yearly budget were used. A variety of community members were included in the process of creating the new logo: staff, alumni, prospective students, current students and focus groups in Seattle. The groups were asked for their stories on what it meant to be a Whitworthian and how the Refresh project could represent Whitworth’s changing culture.
Whitworth’s Christian foundation and intrinsic characteristics of flexibility and progress are meant to be represented in the new logo.
This is an attempt to “speak to prospective students and break through the clutter that is in the world today,” Hines said.
Hines also mentioned that the refreshed brand has better technological mobility.
The previous logo “has been difficult to read and see the details in this ever-increasingly used [digital] environment. So that has been a huge challenge for us,” Hines said.
Elizabeth Strauch, assistant director of marketing, discussed how common icons make up many logos from other universities.
“When we looked at the elements of our last logo—we have the flame—the torch, the flame—and you look at simplifying those elements and you start to look at other college universities, I can’t tell you how many of those use torches or flames. So when we are trying to set ourselves apart, what are the things that are distinctive to Whitworth? We couldn’t land on anything of that traditional iconography that really made a lot of sense moving forward,” Strauch said.
Over the years, moving from a three-color logo to a two-color logo will save the university a great deal of printing money, she said.
Although the new logo announcement surprised many Whitworth students, the marketing department stressed that the project was well-thought out.
“We began with a survey sent to 19,000 students, alums, faculty, employees, parents and community members and had an excellent response rate of 16.8 percent,” Hines said. “We also worked with a committee called the Brand Insight Group made up of about 35 students, faculty and staff from across campus where each step of the process was vetted and discussed.”
In addition to the responses, a presentation was given to all students working on campus this summer.
“We held input meetings with ASWU, University Council, Faculty Assembly, Cabinet and the President’s Office. We also held focus groups with current students, prospective students, alums, faculty and employees,” Hines said.
Senior Keenan Marianno was one of the students who attended the promotional luncheon and thought positively of the presentation.
“They had a presentation of showing a recap of how far the logo has come thus far, and further back story,” Marianno said. “They started showing other college universities, like WSU, U of O, UW with that simplistic nature, and then ended up giving two logo options, saying, ‘between these two—not saying we are going to go with either one or any of these—what do you think?’”
After this presentation, the hosts opened the floor for all students to voice any opinion and criticism.
“They were writing down everything. They seemed to really want any input,” Marianno said.
Hines said she was impressed by the sentiment of the groups of students, saying that they noted “the openness,” and the connection to life at Whitworth.
Whitworth also commented on the meaning of the new logo in the Brand Refresh press release to the public.
“The red lines of the new logo along with the white space ‘create a ‘U’ within the ‘W’’ and symbolize the Holy Trinity and ‘towering pines of our campus.’”
However, many other ideas have been generated on the meaning behind the new logo.
Hines commented on the many responses they received, and noted that “one of the things people have criticized us for initially, but then amended, is that they have to look at it and think about it. We are intrigued by the possibilities of the logo, and we think that is representative of who we are as an institution. It is, what is the meaning behind this, and what does it mean for my life?”
The previous logo of the torch and book will still be used on diplomas and transcripts, but the new design will eventually be present all throughout campus.
Change is difficult, but as Hines remarked, “the logo does not represent who Whitworth is. Whitworth tells its story, and the logo comes along with it.”