WSCU scrapping new logo
Back to the drawing board after critical reception
Times Staff Report
Originally published 2013-03-14
After seven months of attempting to win over prospective students with a new logo, Western State Colorado University officials are heading back to the drawing board.
In an e-mail to faculty, staff and students early this week, President Jay Helman indicated that the university is in the process of “evolving” its branding strategy.
Director of Marketing Brian Barker was tasked several weeks ago with conducting a series of focus groups in an attempt at evaluating the efficacy of WSCU’s new logo and branding efforts, Helman explained.
After surveying more than 300 people (including students, faculty, staff and 150 high school students in the Denver area), the university’s current brand name was found to be problematic.
“Our current brand name, WSCU, was widely criticized as being difficult to remember and sounding like a community college or a credit union,” Helman wrote. “Our logo was also criticized by many as being bland, not memorable, and of abandoning our Western heritage.”
Western officials clarified, however, that the initiative will not result in another name change.
“We are ‘Western,’ and we have been for most of our 100 year history,” Helman continued. “In the coming weeks and months we will roll out a branding strategy that captures our heritage, embraces our future, and helps us better assert our market position.”
After a bill was carried through the legislature last year, Western’s new name became official in August — following suit with other higher ed institutions in the state that in recent years have changed their names to include “university.”
But prior to the new name taking effect, Western had hired branding and marketing firm BFT International of Maine, which designed the new logo.
Despite university officials now taking a new direction with respect to branding, Barker said BFT’s work is still valuable.
“They conducted some really important work here on campus that involved campus conversations about what we are as a university and what it means to be a university,” he said. “They guided us through this process at a really crucial time for us. ... It just so happens that the final strategy that we landed on doesn’t poll well with our target audience, which is prospective students.”
BFT also was behind the university’s new tagline, “Learning elevated,” which Barker said is being retained.
The findings of the focus groups were presented to the Board of Trustees a few weeks ago.
University officials are now in the process of looking for a new branding firm in hopes of exploring different strategies, Barker said.