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.
- Although the school colors have not changed, we have developed a set of secondary colors.
- We are instituting guidelines for logo and graphic identity creation. Go here for graphics guidelines for student clubs and organization.
- Letterhead and business card templates have been redesigned.
- We are updating our guidelines for inclusive language.
- We’ve added guidelines and best practices for social media and for video.
- The University seal design has changed to match the logo, but its usage restrictions have not: it is still limited to diplomas, certificates, select merchandise sold in the bookstore, and to use for ceremonial occasions, such as Commencement and Convocation.
What’s not changing?
- Our school colors –– black and gold all the way! (However, the specs for some of the colors have changed slightly.)
- The Retriever athletics logo.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.)
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 email@example.com 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.
Is there a hashtag to go with the branding?
When promoting the brand and the UMBC community on social media, #RetrieverNation represents the ultimate expression of that sense of community. It integrates easily with the greater institutional message of excellence and pride, and can be used with communications to alumni and the campus community, as well as in recruitment materials and on social media, for building our Retriever community online.
Have other questions or comments? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.