Nov 13, 2012
By Colleen Carow
Engineering and technology at Ohio University may seem to be getting a new look, but it's more than surface deep – it's for good. After almost six months of research, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology is unveiling today a new creative identity to help tell its story in a clearer, more compelling way.
Partnering with Columbus, Ohio, marketing agency Ologie, the faculty, staff, students, leadership and alumni of the Russ College have collaborated since spring on individual interviews, group discussions, surveys, team meetings, video and photo shoots, design critiques, and focus groups to delve into "who" the Russ College is and how to authentically convey that.
"We've all heard and discovered through personal experience – and through the knowledge that our graduates become leaders in industry and government – that the Russ College is a special place to learn and work. But we've never identified why," said Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin. "Our work with Ologie, and especially their work discovering, from an outside perspective, what we actually do rather than what we ‘think' we do, was a turning point."
Additional research included a communications audit and analysis of competitors and aspirational peers in higher education, as well as intensive core team workshops with leaders from the Russ College, Enrollment, University Communications and Marketing (UCM) and Enrollment Management, who served to review and hone the strategy.
The outcome was a defined direction regarding not only what the Russ College and Ohio University offer but what the benefits are to all of the college's audiences – primarily, prospective students. It's
all summarized with the phrase "Create for Good."
Valerie Young, chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a participant on the core team, noted that the phrase is a double entendre that speaks to both the idea of bettering society as well as the idea of leaving one's mark on the world.
"When I talk to our current students or to prospective freshmen, many of them choose engineering because they want to use science and technology in a way that makes a positive, long-lasting difference," Young said. "'Create for Good' captures in words that desire to invent and produce something new, not just because you can, but because you should."
OHIO's UCM team served as brand consultant throughout the project and provided design for several key communications tools to ensure their fit within the university's master brand.
"A strong visual identity system that is part of a targeted marketing approach can be an effective way to demonstrate distinction in the marketplace," said Renea Morris, executive director of UCM and a
core team member. "The Russ College's new creative identity speaks to target audiences in a way that tells them the college is listening and understand their needs."
"Create for Good" also comes to life in a video developed with Ologie that uses student narrators to ignite initial energy and serve as a precursor for what will come over the coming months and years.
The video can be viewed at www.ohio.edu/engineering/createforgood.
Doug Lawrence, professor of electrical engineering and graduate chair in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said he thought the video was inspirational.
"I was caught by surprise at how moved I was," Lawrence said. "I think that infusing this message into our offerings will pay dividends. I'll be happy to spread the word at every opportunity."
As another checkpoint, Irwin and Russ College communications staff presented the work to members of the college advisory board at a special meeting convened in October at Ologie's offices.
"I've been waiting a long time for someone to articulate how I feel about my college, and this does it," said board member Debbie Burke, a 1985 chemical engineering graduate who also served on the
college's multicultural advisory board and chair of OHIO's Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Engineering Ambassador Colton Moran, a first-generation college student from Troy, Ohio, agreed, saying he thinks the strategy communicates what's unique about OHIO.
"The best thing is the underlying message. Ohio University makes individuals. You don't go here and run the same path as everyone else. You create who you are, and Ohio University encourages that,"
Moran said, a junior chemical and biomolecular engineering major.
The Russ College's communications toolkit includes a refreshed e-newsletter and student blog, an email signature, two-sided business card design, PowerPoint template, flyer templates, banners, an identity booklet and style guidelines.
Tools on the horizon include a PowerPoint template, a suite of new videos, refreshed Web sites and an online photo library, with undergraduate program print materials to follow.
"I finally think we have it right," Irwin said. "We're excited about telling a powerful and compelling story of all that is the Russ College."