A little over a year ago the Marketing and Communications Office began working on updating and revitalizing the St. Olaf brand. This new brand identity includes a new logo and a redesign of the St. Olaf website. The new website is being designed specifically to create a better mobile experience and to better meet today’s accessibility standards. While the new website has not yet launched, the new logo has been implemented and appears on the current website.
According to Associate Director for Media Relations, Kari VanDerVeen, the previous logo has been in use since 1999. It didn’t work well on mobile devices or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The college needed a fresh logo that could offer greater flexibility for conveying the brand identity on digital platforms.
The Marketing and Communications Office staff started the rebranding process by gathering input from the St. Olaf community. They held focus groups with current students, prospective students, faculty and staff. In addi- tion, they consulted with St. Olaf alumni and parents who are experts in the agency and branding field. A new Brand Advisory Group, consisting of faculty members and other stakeholders across campus, regularly provided thoughts and feedback.
The shield in the new logo originates from the St. Olaf seal, which in turn is derived from the Norwegian coat of arms. As the website explains, “the shape presents the strength to be a citizen of substance, the freedom to strive and learn, and the courage to shape the world.”
The shield also incorporates the “Ole swoosh,” which is the top of the O from the St. Olaf wordmark. The archway within the shield is a symbol for the Hill as well as a pathway to achievement and forward movement. The words “St. Olaf” in the logo utilize a square serif font to look “forged” and “powerful.” The word “College” in the logo utilizes a sans serif face to create a “youthful, forward- looking foundation.”
VanDerVeen acknowledged that launching a new brand identity always presents challenges. The Marketing and Communications Office knew that they wouldn’t be able to please everyone. As expected, they heard from many people who love the new look, and many who are reluctant to let go of the old one. Many alumni feared that the college was removing the St. Olaf lion during the launch of the new brand; however, their concerns were unfounded.
“The St. Olaf lion will remain a prominent – and important – element of our branding materials,” VanDerVeen said.
Furthermore, some members of the St. Olaf community have compared the new logo to others, such as the Ducati logo.
“We realize people will make comparisons to other logos with shields, but we believe our mark is unique in many important ways, and is grounded in our history as well as our school colors of black and gold,” VanDerVeen said. “Overall, we’re happy with how the new brand has been received on campus and with how willing students and faculty have been to adapt to this change.”
“We develop individuals of action and substance through a strong community that both challenges and empowers us to form citizens who will shape the world,” VanDerVeen said.
A concise catchphrase for describing the St. Olaf com- munity is also arriving: “Oles Can. Oles Will.” These branding changes to the new website will arrive soon.
Information on the new brand materials and insights into the rebranding process can be found at stolaf.edu/ brand.