In the adoption of a combination of colors peculiarly her own, Bucknell has added another of the bonds which help make the University family one in spirit as in name. We have many reasons to be proud of our institution. We need not be ashamed to flaunt her 'orange and blue' in the face of any one. — The University Mirror, January 1888
Bucknell had already begun carving out a distinct identity for itself by January 1888, when the Bucknell University Board of Trustees voted to make orange and blue the University's official colors, responding to a student-led initiative to unite the University under a common banner. Today, University leaders are proud to unveil the next step in expressing to the world the unique value Bucknell offers as a national university where liberal arts and professional programs complement each other.
"With this comprehensive branding initiative — our first such campaign in recent history — we seek to elevate our already-distinctive presence and reputation around the country and beyond, through a bold assertion of who we are and all that we do," said University President John Bravman.
The initiative provides a cohesive look for all University publications — rooted in the orange and blue color scheme selected by the student body more than a century ago — as well as a more focused approach to sharing the Bucknell story. Weaving the threads together is the important and recurring role Bucknell plays in the journey of its students and alumni on their paths to meaningful success — however they choose to define it. They arrive where they want to be by way of Bucknell.
"People at Bucknell don't feel the need to follow predefined pathways — journeys lead to more journeys rather than to a pre-established destination," said Kelly Ruoff, chief creative officer of Ologie, Bucknell's partner in the branding initiative. "We want to capture that spirit in the stories we tell and in our visual language."
Over an 18-month discovery and design process, Ologie, a Columbus, Ohio-based firm specializing in higher education communications, received input from more than 1,300 University stakeholders, including students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff, through one-on-one discussions, small focus groups and surveys. Key decisions about brand direction were made by representatives from all facets of the University, including the dean of students, provost, athletics, admissions and alumni relations, as well as a small advisory committee of trustees and alumni.
"It was really important for us to seek input from across the Bucknell community, and to do so throughout the different phases of this project," said Andy Hirsch, Bucknell's chief communications officer. "We didn't ask Ologie to tell us who we should be, but rather to discover for themselves who we are, and to help us present an authentic vision of that identity in ways that resonate with all of our various audiences."
That vision, encapsulated in the brand theme By Way of Bucknell, more deliberately highlights the assets that enable Bucknell to stand out among its peers, especially its diverse academic mix of professional and liberal arts programs offered within a residential, highly personalized environment where learning extends far beyond the classroom.
University communications will also more explicitly celebrate Bucknell's size — offering the resources of a large school but the intimacy of a small college — and location, not only in noting its proximity to major East Coast cities, but also in relating the unique opportunities afforded by the University's presence in and outreach to its surrounding region. Through the eyes of its students, Bucknell will strive to present the fabric of that region.
"Lewisburg and the surrounding area are unique to Bucknell, and we want to do a better job expressing our location as an asset," said Bill Conley, vice president for enrollment management. "Potential students need to view Central Pennsylvania, with its rich cultural and natural resources, as a great place to spend their pivotal four years of college."
Visual communications that accompany these narratives will emphasize the branching and intersecting paths forged by Bucknellians, such as the pathways that led alumnus Leslie Moonves '71 from Bucknell Spanish classes to the boardroom of CBS; David Scadden '75, an English major, to co-found the Harvard Stem Cell Institute; or Antoinette Klatzky '08 from the study of geography to empowering young women around the world.
"Often your degree doesn't align with your career path — people with particular majors go on to be successful in very different fields," Ruoff said. "That's why you see arrows, curves, lines and intersections in the design. It suggests loose and organic but beautiful flow."
Implementation of the new brand has already begun with the redesign of various admissions communications, and it will continue in stages for the next several months. As it has since installation of the orange and blue more than a century ago, this story of Bucknell will continue to evolve well into the future.
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