Emerson debuts new brand

by Max Reyes / Beacon Staff • July 20, 2017

Update: This article originally stated that only current students could access the branding website with an Emerson log-in. The site is now open to the public.

The college updated its website and social media to reflect its new brand on Wednesday. Campus signs and marketing campaigns for the school are set to reflect the change by the beginning of the fall semester. 

The changes were announced in an email sent to the Emerson community on Tuesday morning. The email included a link to the college’s new Brand Center website, which initially required Emerson log-in credentials to access. According to Michael Sarra, associate vice president for marketing, this is meant to protect content on the site yet to be trademarked.

Marketing material on the website emphasized that both the college and its students are forces that shape society and the world through creativity and communication. The site also introduced a new logo, a new color scheme, and a new unofficial tagline, “Become a creative force.”

The college hired two firms to assist with its first major rebranding since 2004: SimpsonScarborough, a higher education consulting firm, and Ologie, an ad agency.

According to Sarra, SimpsonScarborough collected information from approximately 2,700 members of the Emerson community through market research, including the rebranding survey it issued in November 2015.

Sarra said Ologie had a hand in designing visual elements, including the flourish, a purple, stylized letter e that serves as a supplemental graphic meant to highlight the college’s creativity rather than as a logo.

The flourish was first introduced in the Spring of 2016 during a town hall-style meeting with the Emerson community. After its introduction, the flourish received backlash from members of the community who felt it did not properly represent the school or its academics.

Sarra said the Office of Marketing had taken such feedback into consideration.

“We have significantly deemphasized the presence of the flourish in the system,” he said. “Instead, focus will be placed on the new logo, which Sarra described as an evolution of its predecessor.

“I’m very excited about the rebrand,” said Paige Niler, an Emerson alumnus who studied marketing communications. “I think it’s a lot more fresh and modern.” Niler compared the flourish to the Nike logo.

Senior journalism major Jon Sheley House said he thinks the rebranding was a good idea, but that there was nothing he particularly liked about it.

“[The new brand] is just very, very bland, which is ironic coming from the least bland school I could imagine,” he said. He also said the flourish reminded him both of a crayon and the “W” in the ESPNW logo.

“Everyone I know hates the flourish with a burning passion,” sophomore business of creative enterprises major Liam Hefferman said. “It feels so simple as to be obtuse.”

Sarra said that the new brand will continue to change, and feedback from the entire Emerson community would continue to be an important part of it. He also said that accepting student submissions for marketing material could be possible in the future.

“We’re going to reinforce and double down on the things that work well, and then we’ll fix the things people think don’t work well,” Sarra said. “This is a brand that’s gonna change, and we’re not gonna wait years to do that.”