“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” –Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon
by Johanna Snow
In the fall of 2015, Westminster began working with Salt Lake City-based creative agency Struck to establish the school’s brand identity. This endeavor was not the first of its kind. Like many higher education institutions throughout the world, Westminster has gone through transformations in the way of logos, mascots, and campaign messaging since its inception in 1875. This process is necessary for institutions to keep up with the evolution of higher education. The 2015 brand project was different, however, because the college took a holistic approach by including the entire campus in the process. Struck and campus members involved with the project sought to look beyond campaign messaging, logos, and mascots. Instead, they looked at the college itself, diving into the rich history of the college by meeting with faculty, students, and alumni to discover what makes Westminster so special. What are people saying behind the college’s back?
One year’s worth of research, data testing, surveying, and many, many conversations later, Struck uncovered answers to that very question. While there is no doubt that Westminster is loved and valued by those who are a part of its community, the data showed that the perception of those who are not familiar with the college is a bit skewed. This information allowed Struck the opportunity to help establish Westminster’s voice, tone, and identity through the experiences of its community members.
The result is clarification on how to tell the stories of those who have experienced transformation by working closely with their faculty mentors and fellow students. With every student who walks across the stage to accept his or her diploma, the history of Westminster becomes richer: Westminster is its students. It is its faculty. It is its alumni. It is shaped by the ambition of students who want to build a meaningful life through education. It is fashioned by the challenges individuals face and conquer as they evolve into people who make a difference.
In the following information, provided to Westminster by Struck, you will find explanations of the Westminster brand as well as how to talk about the college. Color palettes and logo design aside, the most important aspect of the brand is knowing that, above all else, Westminster is you.
Jazmin May (’19)
Longevity of Learning
Jazmin is a first-generation college student. She came to Westminster because she wanted to attend a college that afforded her opportunities to be involved in campus life and explore alternate perspectives. She is a sophomore studying communication and anthropology.
“Everything that I’m learning at Westminster makes me well-rounded. I’ve learned so much and to look at problems from many different angles and perspectives—I’m pushed to be my best.”
Brody Leven (’10)
Power of Place
Brody Leven is a professional all-seasons athlete and climate advocate. Each year he trades in his outdoor gear for a suit and tie to meet with Congress about climate change. In 2015, he attended the United Nations Paris Climate Conference (COP21). An Ohio native who graduated from the Honors program with a degree in economics, Brody chose Westminster for its academic rigor and distinctive location.
“Location was as important to me as academic programs. I wanted to live in a place with a robust public transit system, a nearby international airport, a thriving outdoors industry, a diverse and progressive populous, close proximity to mountains, and a bike-friendly infrastructure.”
Tristan Johnson (’19)
Devotion of Educators
When Tristan was applying to colleges, Westminster quickly rose to the top of his priority list because of the welcoming and encouraging environment he found in the Theatre Department during his very first visit. He is a sophomore majoring in theatre and is engaged in many facets of campus life.
“Westminster professors genuinely want you to succeed and will do anything to make that happen.”
The Westminster Preview
As we shift the conversation about Westminster, we will roll out a new recruiting strategy that engages prospective students with an approach that feels more like storytelling and less like advertising. The new viewbook (pictured here) takes the form of a magazine, and the college’s narrative is revealed through a series of authentic student stories.
Westminster’s brand is our reputation: what people say and feel about the college.
Research found that overall awareness about Westminster is lower than we’d like. What people do know about the college is often vague, misdirected, or incorrect. And perceptions do not always align with the experiences our students and alumni can attest to. A desire to improve awareness and better communicate what makes us special was the genesis of this initiative. Ultimately, this was not as much a rebrand as it was an uncovering of our authentic story.
Do other reputable colleges and universities do the same with rebranding?
Westminster is not the first or the last college or university to re-evaluate brand. While it may not necessarily be considered a trend, many higher education institutions, including the University of Utah, have undergone rebrands in recent years. Like any type of organization, colleges and universities need to adjust to changing times and shifts in what motivate their audiences.
When the new logo was developed, was there any consideration given to the fact that Weber already has a W logo?
The short answer is yes, but we felt that this was a minor consideration. Weber is not a competitor, as it offers a very different educational experience than we do. Additionally, many universities and colleges have a W logo. That should not exclude us from having one too, but it did influence the design of our logo. Struck made sure that our W is different from other college and university logos—and gave us guidelines regarding how we use it to ensure it is not confused with the logos of other colleges such as Weber.
Over time, our W will become a powerful symbol of what makes Westminster special—a vessel for our brand narrative.
Will the athletic branding change?
No. The athletic branding and visual identity will remain the same.
What does the brand have to do with me?
You and your story are building blocks of Westminster’s brand. By sharing your Westminster experience you are helping to make our brand more powerful.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.