We talk a lot about the importance of branding at this university. We’ve introduced a style guide and created a whole new website dedicated to logos, colors and more. This website–the Communications Toolkit–is meant to be just that–a toolkit that provides a starting point to build your website, print piece and more. A starting point that makes it easy to adhere to a university brand.
I’ve been asked things like:
Can I remove the box from the logo?
Can I use the new University seal even though it’s only for official use?
I’ve even been told:
I don’t like the logo.
Guess what? The logo doesn’t care whether you like it or not.
What’s important to note is that we all realize the logo is the logo. It symbolizes this University. It is part of our brand.
I just finished reading a great piece from Tim Nekritz called The trouble with personal branding. Tim is director of web communication and associate director of public affairs at SUNY Oswego. In this piece, he talks about personal brand vs. institutional brand. One of the things that stuck with me was this:
Often departments will contact us to say they’ve hired an art student to “redesign their page” (we have a CMS and an aim for a common look and experience across oswego.edu), and ask how they get started. Besides training, we tell them to start with content. An awkward silence tends to follow. Signing up an art student to “make a website pop” without a content strategy is like repainting a restaurant without giving any thought to what’s on the menu. I don’t go to a restaurant because of its design, I go because I want a good meal.
I also feel like the “any art student can build a professional website” is demeaning to the industry. I wouldn’t tell the art department to just hire an English major to teach their courses because he must be good with words. This isn’t a dig against art students but a statement: Web communication is about subject matter and knowing how to tell your story, not merely making pretty pictures.