An Update on the Evolution of Wheaton’s Brand

We all have a stake in the way that Wheaton presents itself to the world. As students, faculty and staff, the college’s image reflects us, just as we—through what we do and say—shape the view that others have of this amazing institution. Each of us cares deeply about this place and this community.

The preview that the college offered in March of Wheaton’s new brand strategy demonstrates the passion that we all share for the college. That sneak peek has inspired enthusiasm for the ways we can highlight our amazing college, questions about exactly when and how this updated identity will be introduced to the world and a request to reconsider the new wordmark. The Wire has written several articles on the subject, so it seemed appropriate for me to offer an update on where we stand today and our plans for the future.

In mid-April, someone who wishes to remain anonymous presented a petition concerning the new wordmark. We have carefully reviewed the comments in that petition and many of the points that were made reflect the need for more background on the strategy. We clearly need to do more to ensure that the community is better informed.

For example, many people incorrectly assumed that the college’s seal, to which all of us feel a special and strong affinity, would no longer be used. Rest assured, the seal will not be going away. It has been, and always will be, an expression of our Wheaton pride, tradition and history. In fact, with input from many of you, we will use it more frequently within our own community, for students and alumnae/i, for instance. However, the fine detail of the seal’s artwork, as well as some of its other features, continues to lead to ongoing confusion when shared with the wider world.

Additionally, the attention on the wordmark—not the “super fan” t-shirt shared at the soft launch—has distracted from the broader strategy to better communicate Wheaton’s current strengths and aspirations. Wheaton’s brand essence is about igniting the spark of possibility within every student through our commitment to a progressive and personal liberal arts education in a diverse and supportive community. These ideas were identified in our engagement with thousands of alumnae/i, students, parents, faculty and staff. And these concepts form the bedrock of our strategic plan and guide much of what we do, in marketing the college and in operating it.

When viewed as a whole, the changes that we are making support these ideas. The video that was shown in March, and can be viewed online, does a great job of demonstrating how this strategy will unfold. In fact, external audiences who viewed the wordmark as part of an overall presentation describe it as having similar attributes to what our own community identified for Wheaton: inviting, forward-thinking, inclusive and innovative.

We will work on additional ways to better communicate the brand strategy in the coming months before it launches in August with an updated web site. Community members who have read the background research, or have engaged with us directly, generally appreciate how effectively the new brand strategy supports our shared goals. We have appreciated both the positive and negative feedback along the way, and we will take all of it into consideration as part of this ongoing initiative.

Wheaton is an amazing place. We have a great blueprint for making that clear to others, for making even more people aware of who we are, and for achieving the goals that we have set as a community.

Thank you for your commitment, your passion and your ongoing advocacy for our institution. As we have strived to do since this strategic planning and brand discovery process began nearly two years ago, we will continue to listen and shape our approach with your input.


Dennis Hanno