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Brand FAQs

Why is UMBC changing its branding now?

What’s changing?

What’s not changing?

Is anything happening to the Retriever logo?

I need a business card and/or letterhead. Where do I go?

What if I need a graphic treatment for my department that I don’t see in the graphics section of the guide?

What if I need a logo for my department, program, office, or initiative?

What happened to “An Honors University in Maryland”?

Is there a replacement tagline? Are the themes taglines? I’m confused.

What about signs and other places on campus or online that still have the old logo?

Are we still following AP style?

Who developed the branding?

Why is UMBC changing its branding now?

Our last major branding initiative – “An Honors University in Maryland” – was adopted in 1995. Since then, UMBC has transformed in many ways – in terms of recruitment, enrollment, degree completion, research activity and funding, employer partnerships, philanthropy, and others. UMBC is now a nationally recognized university with a large residential population, robust graduate programs, and a rapidly growing research enterprise. And the ways in which our audiences consume information have changed dramatically since then as well.

What’s changing?

What’s not changing?

Is anything happening to the Retriever logo?

No, we’re loyal to True Grit. Go here for information on using the Retriever athletics logo.

I need a business card and/or letterhead. Where do I go?

For letterhead, you can 1) download the electronic template here or 2) go here to order from our contracted vendor. 

For business cards, go here to order from our vendor. (Please do not order from other companies, with whom UMBC does not have a contract.)

If you have questions, please contact brand@umbc.edu.

What if I need a graphic treatment for my department that I don’t see in the graphics section of the guide?

It’s important to keep graphics within the system we’ve developed, and we can work with you to come up with a solution to accommodate most needs. Rather than using elements to develop on your own, please email us at brand@umbc.edu.

What if I need a logo for my department, program, office, or initiative?

Since multiple logos tend to dilute the brand, we are discouraging the creation and use of additional logos and instead are moving toward adapting graphic identities for groups within the UMBC graphics system. If you have questions, please contact brand@umbc.edu.

What happened to “An Honors University in Maryland”?

While the new primary logo has no tagline, a version with “An Honors University” was developed as a secondary option for those who feel it will help achieve their goals. And the idea of an honors university does not go away – see the replacement tagline question that follows.

Is there a replacement tagline? Are the themes taglines? I’m confused.

We found that no single phrase captured UMBC in a distinctive way, and chose instead to develop four brand themes. (For more information about the theme development go here. For tips on using the themes in your writing, go here.) They are not a replacement for “An Honors University in Maryland” so much as tools for describing to outside audiences what that (somewhat difficult to define) phrase actually means. Using the themes as you write will not only help you bring UMBC’s best attributes to the forefront, but also help you make decisions about what needs to be included.

Think of the brand themes as an invitation for the reader to engage with our community. As you begin writing, ask yourself where your subject might most naturally fit. (You may see elements of multiple themes – that’s okay! Choose the one that feels best for your situation.)

You may also occasionally see the themes used in marketing or advertising campaigns – taglines for the campaign but not for the University as a whole.

What about signs and other places on campus or online that still have the old logo?

We will be phasing in the new branding as time and funding allow. However, you may know of instances that we’re not aware of, so we’d appreciate your emailing brand@umbc.edu to let us know.

Are we still following AP style?

We have adopted the style of The Chicago Manual of Style, which uses the serial, or Oxford, comma and tends to lowercase items. Our one exception is to capitalize the word University when it refers specifically to UMBC.

Who developed the branding?

The Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA) convened a group of University leaders involved in recruitment and resource development immediately after the 50th anniversary year (2016) to review UMBC’s branding; recommend refinements to sustain an authentic, contemporary brand identity; and articulate an institutional marketing plan to continue to advance inclusive excellence and position UMBC as a campus and partner of choice.

To develop how to build and express the brand, OIA worked with consultants and campus partners to conduct a competitive and positioning analysis comparing UMBC with top competitors and aspirational peers in undergraduate and graduate education. The team also conducted market research with current students to understand their motivations to enroll in college and choose UMBC, and spoke with faculty and staff to gain their perspectives. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni gave feedback on logos designed by Jim Lord ’99, UMBC creative director, in several online surveys, and all creative and design work was done in-house.

Have other questions or comments? Email us at brand@umbc.edu.