Branding campaign begins work on streamlined logo

The public relations team charged with refreshing the University’s visual image presented a new “forward-thinking” vision of GW’s two-letter logo at a Board of Trustees meeting Friday.

The adjusted logo – part of a new branding campaign set to launch this fall – will streamline marketing materials, including business cards, brochures, airport advertisements, apparel and websites.

Draft images for the revised logo, still tentative and not yet released, will be unveiled at a town hall in March. The campaign will emphasize GW’s downtown location and its intensifying research focus. Lorraine Voles, vice president for external relations, declined to publicly release the images.

“We wanted to capture what was really unique about George Washington and use it to strengthen and improve our visual identity at the University,” Voles said. “For so many years we talked about location, but we never defined it.”

Last spring, GW hired two firms to begin the project with the external relations office. A 75-member student, faculty and staff committee is providing feedback, Voles said. Athletic programs will retain their current logo.

University President Steven Knapp said GW’s image will center on “coming to a place where you learn how to change the world, coming to a place where you put theory and practice together in a unique way, where you have access to these extraordinary resources.”

A major goal for logo modernizing was to retain clarity across different media, Mark Thwaites, creative director at branding consultant Futurebrand, said. Cleaner lines and fonts will replace easily pixilated serifs.

George Washington’s image, a photograph of an 1850 oil painting, is also easily distorted on mobile websites and will be swapped with a new George – a sepia-toned graphic facing the front instead of the side “to go from soft, passive, still [and] staunch to bold, active, elegant, future [and] engaging,” Thwaites said.

The University’s last logo makeover in 2002 unified GW’s image across departments. That revamp yielded the current wordmark and portrait image – meant to distinguish GW from other District schools.

Cory McCall, creative director at branding agency 160over90, said his team would highlight GW’s location to avoid college brochures’ “sea of sameness.”

He pitched slogans, such as, “You have to learn how the world runs before you learn how to run the world,” and, “You know it’s going to be a big day when the vice president wakes you up.”

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