Office of Strategic Marketing & Branding







Understanding our unit identity strategy

January 30, 2021
Brand strategy

Where's my wordmark?? It's a question we've heard many variations of in the past six months, and for good reason. We realize the shift is not a small one, but it is an important part of our brand strategy. In January we led a workshop on the topic. This blog post draws from that workshop, as does last week's post by Taylor, who shares examples of designs that don't rely on wordmarks.

I'll start with a summary of the change many people have been noticing: In the past, more than 300 unique wordmarks were issued to different units, programs, and offices. Now, for the most part, only primary academic units have wordmarks.

Reducing the number of wordmarks being used across campus is an important part of our strategy to reinforce the singular brand and logo that belong to all of us. When we rolled out the brand guidelines last July, we did a good job of stressing the importance of a unified brand and our collective power as a university, but we could have dont a better jo assuring everyone that we understand and fully support this: Units of every size still need ways to identify themselves. 

That's why we built tools and methods into the new brand that make it possible for units to identify themselves more clearly than before. The ultimate goal isn’t to take wordmarks away from units who used to have them, it’s to reduce the use of wordmarks, period – whether or not your unit has one.

Why? Because when we use the block-I logo outside of a wordmark, we can use it in larger scale while also increasing design flexibility around where the block-I is located (demonstrated in the mockup below).

When you take your unit name out of the wordmark format, you also have more flexibility to make the name larger and more central than you could with a wordmark (like in this mockup featuring the Department of Dance).

Ultimately, by increasing the visibility of the block I logo we can begin to increase immediate brand recognition in our audiences. Think about how the Nike swoosh or Target’s bullseye can independently trigger brand recognition – no words needed. That’s what we’re going for, and we can only get there together. Thanks for all you do to partner with us!