The UB signature
The UB signature reflects the University's strong connection to the city of Baltimore and its ongoing commitment to urban engagement.
The UB logo
The logo and symbol work together as one unit and will always be seen in this arrangement. The space both in and above the U creates an arrow that moves upward. The symbol and logo together imply the ideas of movement forward, growth, change, next steps, diversity and the 21st century. The unit as whole supports the fundamental messages in the University's mission statement and ideally reflects both the University's current role and its exciting future.
For the University of Baltimore (as well as every other university, college and school, both public and private, accredited or not), the promise of the institution’s brand is closely tied to its mission of teaching, scholarship and service. It’s a promise that, in all of these areas, the needs of the “client” (a student, but also faculty, staff, alumni, friends and newcomers) will be met. The promise is both tangible (quality courses, development of applicable skills) and intangible (networking, lifelong connections, the “college experience). Finally, a well-established brand can represent different things to different people, but all of those things are demonstrable, believable and relevant.
Until about a decade ago, the idea of branding a university was considered offbeat and somewhat ludicrous. Even leaders of major research institutions, with close ties to business, science, politics and the arts, considered a brand for their campuses to be somehow beneath them.
“See those ivy-covered walls and university pennants on homecoming day? That’s all the brand we need,” they would argue.
But starting in the mid- to late 1980s, right around the same time that the concept of strategic planning made its way out of corporate boardrooms and into those same ivy-covered walls, the branding approach began to take hold in higher education. Institutions recognized that not only could they trade on their well-established names—affirmed by the huge proliferation of t-shirts, mugs, and thousands of other licensed products bearing institutional graphics—but they could also actively market that name as part of an “experience.” To fail to establish a brand, or to let an organically created brand go to seed, was suddenly seen as deeply risky.
It’s debatable how these ideas got off the ground, but the nation’s changing demographics in the ’90s led to a tipping point: millions of college-ready students (the “baby boom echo”), millions more adults seeking to broaden their educations, and a sharp increase in the numbers of minorities both young and older desiring a degree. But there’s a problem.
The lead paragraph of a June 17, 2005, article in The Chronicle of Higher Education on the future of college marketing sums it up:
“The competition among colleges for students is growing just as quickly as the number of high school graduates and adults returning to school, and institutions need to be more nimble and to better promote themselves if they expect to snag those new recruits….”
This message was delivered last summer to hundreds of higher-education leaders during a conference on the future of college recruiting. That was the good news. The bad news, according to the Chronicle: Students have more choices of where and how they will go to college, thanks to the proliferation of for-profit and online schools.
Out of that competition … comes branding.
What Does a New Logo Mean for Me?
UB has had its current graphic identity for more than a decade. In branding terms, that’s not a long time to go without a change. But it is long enough, if the UB brand is not flourishing under the identity.
Most campus veterans believe there has been upward momentum since the logo and slogan were introduced, but until recently, enrollment numbers having been trending down. Much has changed in the interim—the rise of online learning, for example, and the rapid renewal of many neighborhoods around the city. In addition, graphic looks go in and out of style, and UB’s look, some say, is past its prime.
A new logo is being planned as part of the re-branding effort, Toran explained. Along with a new slogan, it will better reflect the University’s urban location and will help convey the fact that UB is an institution that comprises three different schools.
“We want to have a graphic identity that expresses what we are now, one that reflects the energy, change and forward momentum that is obvious on campus,” Toran said.
UB employees will have their own reactions to the new look, but regardless of their preferences, it is undeniable that a refurbished graphic identity could do much to instill pride in the University.
William H. Cole, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, said the re-branding effort will help UB in its drive toward forging strong relationships with alumni.
“We have focused much of our energy in recent years on reconnecting with our alumni. Successful institutional fundraising, in particular, happens only when you have a relationship with your donor,” Cole said. “A new Student Center, a new logo, a new tagline—those topics provide our office with plenty to talk about when reconnecting with our graduates. It allows us the unique opportunity to redefine who we are to our most valuable population—our graduates. Most importantly, it gives us a chance to rekindle those positive feelings about their alma mater and, hopefully, that translates into increased financial support.”
Pride—it all comes down to that. If the UB brand holds a promise, then that promise is that its students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends will be able to take pride in the university name and all that it represents. In 2005, that impression does not come about by accident, but rather by purpose—by talking to dozens and dozens of people in focus groups, classrooms and alumni gatherings; by developing sophisticated marketing campaigns backed up by good customer service; by being innovative where it counts. As the brand develops, it’s a promise that builds on itself in many ways. It’s a success when the UB name is not only well recognized, but also highly valued.