This Q+A responds to questions in two areas:
WHY – About the Visual Identity Institutional Imperative
Q: Why did Whitman change the visual identity?
A: For an over-arching reason – to unify the visual representation of the College. The visual identity of an organization – whether educational, non-profit, corporate, etc. – is best presented in a uniform and consistent way.
Q: Why now, in 2010?
A: This is an opportune moment to unify a College-wide visual identity, as we are planning the next generation of admission communications; we are engaged in an ongoing effort to evaluate and enhance the effectiveness of our Web presence; and we are looking ahead to a comprehensive fundraising effort intended to strengthen support for Whitman’s programs and people. At this intersection of events, the timing provides a unique opportunity to coordinate and improve our communications.
In recent years the variety of representations of the name of the college has widened. With the increased national visibility of the college comes an imperative to be consistent in how the college presents itself visually. Additionally, a new design of admission and development materials in underway, and the Web site design will be modified as well.
Q: Why is it important to have such standards and a unified look?
A: The reason aligns with the way we consistently speak about Whitman, whether referring to the academic program, the faculty and staff, our campus setting or the energy and intellect that characterize our students. We speak with pride and unity about the value and character of the college. A unified look will reinforce the public perception of Whitman College.
Q: How was the new look selected?
A: A task force of staff, faculty and students and worked with a consultant, North Charles Street Design Organization (NCSDO). While NCDSO already knew Whitman well from its five years of previous work with our admission team, they helped the task force implement a survey of impressions and perceptions about Whitman to gather responses that would inform the design. Using that input, they developed several options. The task force reviewed the options and made recommendations to President Bridges.
Q: What is the significance of the graphic elements?
A: The blue color and yellow accent relate to the long-standing Whitman reference to the sky and wheat. The clock tower icon reflects the overwhelming input about the memories and traditions invoked by this landmark architecture and its place in the hearts of generations of alumni. The clock tower extending from the circle seems to represent the emergence of Whitman into a new era. And the circle shape itself is often associated with collegiate looks, given most colleges have an official seal. The Whitman College wordmark no longer has lines above and below it, which to some may represent a change from a contained Whitman to an unconstrained, open Whitman.
Q: What’s the difference in the Whitman word mark, other than the lines above and below?
A: The difference is the font used. The previous one was named Goudy. The new one is named Whitman. Yes, Whitman! It is an actual font – in existence, not created new – that bears the name of the college.
HOW – About the Campus Operational Transition
Q: When will all this happen?
A: The May 17, 2010 “reveal” to the campus community is just the beginning of a transition process that may take a year or so. Members of the Task Force and several campus departments have gathered cost estimates, and the transition will be prioritized based on factors of both cost and timing of urgency of a communications need. For example, the Commencement canopy will not be transitioned until 2011.
Q: What all will be included in the transition?
A: Virtually everything that currently visually identifies Whitman College, from our letterhead and business cards to building and vehicle signage.
Q: What do I need to do?
A: The most important step individual campus community members should take is to inventory your own job/program area to see what you use that will need to be transitioned to the new look. Task Force members are working with their budget officers to help inventory what needs to be changes and manage the transition. You also will need to review the printing on such items as letterhead, envelopes and business cards, to see if you need to make any changes to the text.
Q: How do I get new stationery, envelopes and business cards?
A: You or your department administrative assistant will order them – an online order form is coming soon. Printing Services staff will work with individuals and departments to transition stationery materials – much like what happens every year when they help departments with their annual bulk order. The bulk ordering process contributed to developing the transition schedule, given that this is an annual effort for most programs and departments. There will be easy-to-use order forms, and the staff will help you.
Q: Will my department be charged for this?
A; Individual department/program budgets will be responsible for such items as stationery pieces, business cards and publications that you normally would be printing anyway to replenish supplies.
Q: What about Whitman ID cards?
A: Plans for issuing new Whitman ID cards to all campus community members are underway. Details will be announced pending availability of the Security Office to issue new cards. Costs for ID cards will be absorbed by the college, not individual departments. Old ID cards will be collected for shredding.
Q: What do I do with my stocks of materials with the old wordmark?
A: Members of the Conservation Committee are creating recycling programs and activities that will maximize re-use of old stationery materials. Those efforts will begin over the summer. Because this Visual Identity effort is focused on unification, all old materials should be recycled. You may choose do it on your own, but materials with the previous look should no longer be used externally. Printing Services will be available to make scratch note pads for you if you choose, at no charge. You are welcome to preserve envelopes to use for inter-campus mail; be sure to mark through the old logo.
Q: Should I use up old letterhead paper?
A: Use your existing stock only until the new stock arrives; it is expected to arrive mid-July. You should not plan to “use it up.” You should plan to recycle it in the campus effort or keep it for your own scratch paper use.
Q: Do I need to buy/use the new Whitman new font?
A: No. The font used in the wordmark and various design applications is a design element, not an “official, standardized” font for correspondence, publications, Web site, etc. The Style Guide offers some suggestions for which fonts work best in various situations, but these are guidelines as opposed to standards.
Q: What if I want to create something using the graphic elements, or if I’m working with a vendor who needs the art?
A: Either contact the Design Services staff or use the elements available in the Visual Style Guide Graphics Toolbox.