Ithaca College officially launched a rebranding and advertising campaign today to better market the college locally and nationwide.
The campaign started with the launch of the college’s updated website and logo yesterday, but Rachel Reuben, associate vice president at the Office of Marketing Communications, said the initial changes are just the beginning of a set of marketing standards the college will implement across campus as part of a strategic advertising effort.
Reuben said the college initiated the rebranding campaign last August to find clear, consistent messages and visuals to use throughout the college. The college also wanted the initiative to coincide with the IC 20/20 vision plan and address the issue of increasing competition among universities.
Though the site’s navigation and content did not change, Reuben describes the updates as a “fresh coat of paint.”
The website features two stories of students whose college experiences made them “Ready” for the future. The “micro-site,” ithaca.edu/ready, includes 12 additional “Ready” student stories, photos and videos, which will cycle throughout the year.
Reuben said the brand identity and logo have come a long way since last spring. She describes the “Ready” brand identity as a fill-in-the-blank where students can fill in a short description of how the college has prepared them for life after school.
The college’s logo has also undergone many major changes from the institution’s previous signage, which displayed “Ithaca” in uppercase letters. In March, students had the option of choosing one of two designs.
After gathering feedback, Reuben said, the college decided to alter the options. The new logo displays the full “Ithaca College” name in navy blue uppercase letters, with an interlocked “I” and “C” in the middle of a shield to the left of the college name.
Bonny Griffith, director for recruitment marketing at the Office of Marketing Communications, said the new logo clears up confusion that audience members have between the Ithaca area and the college.
“It brings the word ‘college’ back into our logo,” she said. “That’s been a challenge for us in recent years because Ithaca is a city and it’s an entity that people know not just as a college.”
Though the college has done some advertising in the past, Reuben said beginning tomorrow, the marketing office will roll out a comprehensive strategic advertising campaign by placing advertisements in Google searches, The New York Times and Facebook, in addition to publications in the Finger Lakes region. She said the college will focus on New York City and the Northeast region later this fall and spring.
When the rebranding initiative began last August, the college partnered with marketing firm SimpsonScarborough to perform market research with prospective students.
“In small pockets we were known for a fantastic music school and a state-of-the-art communications school, but it wasn’t largely known,” Reuben said. “Many people have heard of the ‘Ithaca College’ name, but we really aren’t known for any one — or a number of — particular things in the marketplace.”
Last March, the Office of Marketing Communications distributed a survey to current and prospective students, alumni and faculty to gain feedback.
The original idea featured three options — “Ready” with a check mark, “Ready or not,” with “not” crossed out and simply “Ready.” Reuben said the college ultimately altered the “Ready” slogan after reviewing feedback from the survey and additional focus groups.
Though Reuben said time will ultimately show the campaign’s success, feedback has already been positive — more so than during the college’s failed mascot search, which was discontinued over the summer.
Scott Hamula, associate professor and chair of the strategic communications department, said he is excited to use the college’s new visuals in his PowerPoint presentation for the college’s open house event, a task that will be easier with a clear brand.
“Now that we have a consistent logo, name treatment, font and color, hopefully it will create a stronger Ithaca for messaging, which represents who we are and what we do,” he said.
Last Thursday, faculty and staff saw the updated logo and “Ready” campaign for the first time.
Diane Rogers, a risk management assistant in the Division of Legal Affairs, said she enjoyed the “Ready” stories, which showcased students and their experiences.
“Those stories will speak volumes as far as getting us out into the world,” she said.
Along with the new logo, the college also instituted a licensing and trademark policy that protects other unauthorized businesses or institutions from selling merchandise using the college’s name. Vendors are required to go through an approval process to sell products with the college’s name or logo.
For now, Reuben said the logo and name can only be displayed in navy blue, gold, gray, white or black, which means the colorful tie-dye or purple shirts students see in the bookstore are no longer allowed by the college’s licensing plan.
Reuben said the college will consider bringing back college merchandise in other colors during a marketing meeting in September.
Hamula said the college has developed a message that captures an experience distinct to the college.
“We’re very fortunate that they were able to bring that down to one word which I think the overwhelming majority of students, faculty, staff, parents and various stakeholders agree with — ‘Ready,’” he said.