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With just a few hours left in their junior year, the high school students sat in a guidance office conference room and examined the images projected onto the wall. A dozen Albright College logos, rendered in red and gray, most including the number “1856,” offered themselves for the students’ review.


“WOW,” SAID ONE OF THEM. “I THOUGHT ALBRIGHT HAS ONLY BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 70s.”


He meant the 1970s, not the 1870s, and in that startling misconception one can understand why the College was testing new logo options in the first place.

When Albright surveyed potential students and their families as part of the larger market research project it conducted last year, “lack of awareness” was cited as one of the College’s primary weaknesses. That a student at Exeter Township Senior High School, practically in our backyard, didn’t realize that Albright College traces its founding to 1856 would seem to validate this finding—and compel action in response. As the College’s strategic plan states, “In a crowded and noisy marketplace, Albright must tell its story and promote its distinctive mission, vision and values with clarity and consistency.”

Using the data gleaned from the research, Albright and its partner, SimpsonScarborough, developed a new brand strategy to assist the College in clarifying its messaging and making it more genuine and credible. In some ways, that’s when the real work began: Strengthening an institution’s brand identity through creative expression—words and pictures, headlines and fonts, storylines and colors—is no small undertaking.

On top of that, the research revealed that the institutional logo—that familiar word mark, the one with “Albright” in a stylized red font and “College” in small, gray, capital letters underneath—struck every stakeholder group surveyed as indistinct and weak. When given a series of antonyms and asked to place the logo on a spectrum between them, respondents plopped it right in the middle.

The College Relations office set about bringing Albright’s brand strategy to life by developing a new visual identity along two fronts. The first was a new strategic marketing campaign; the second was a new logo. In each case, College Relations grounded its work in the brand strategy, which was itself based on the data from the research project. Writers and designers collaborated to create numerous options, which were vetted by a task force comprising faculty members, administrators and a couple of vice presidents.

After a process of considerable refinement, College Relations tested the finalists—three marketing concepts and 12 logos— with faculty members, current students, alumni groups, the board of trustees, administrators and prospective students, including the Exeter group. President Lex McMillan and his five vice presidents factored in their feedback in making the final choice.

The theme of the College’s new marketing campaign is “Discovery.” Many prospective students had identified college as a place both to explore the world around them and to learn more about themselves; many alumni, current students, faculty members and staff saw Albright as a place where such discernment happens. Visually, the theme is represented through photography that centers students amidst kinetic backgrounds ablaze with energy. Font treatments are bold and modern, the better to capture eyes prone to distraction in our media-drenched age.

When it came to the logo, tradition carried the day. The winning mark’s shield resonated with many who saw it as a symbol of academic strength and gravitas. The archways inside the shield reflect one of the campus’s most notable architectural features, most readily apparent at Selwyn Hall but also seen elsewhere. The word “Albright” is rendered in serif capital letters, connoting legacy and dignity.


AND, OF COURSE, THERE’S THAT NUMBER. 1856.


The response to inclusion of the College’s founding year was almost unanimously positive. For those not  connected to Albright, it conveyed history and stability. For internal stakeholders, it was a point of pride.

Beginning last summer, we began rolling out our new identity in Admission publications, ADP ads, Fund for Albright materials, and on the College’s website. In the weeks and months to come, we’ll convert campus signage, install new street banners and more.

Please visit www.albright.edu and check out the new look. Our goal is to have more people discover who and what we are—to learn what Albright College is really all about. And that counts for those in Exeter, Pa., as much as it does those in Exeter, Calif.

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