By Janice Tieperman
A new page has been turned for ESU as the university embarks on a visual and visionary rework.
On Jan. 17, students and faculty alike gathered in the University Commons to witness the revealing of two logos: one for the general university, and the latter for the Athletics programs.
“The team worked carefully to craft a visual identity that embodies the mission, vision and values of ESU,” stated University President Marcia G. Welsh; “The new visual identity, in addition to our brand tag line ‘Where Warriors Belong’, enables us to represent the real ESU as bold, confident and aspirational.”
Welsh noted the age of ESU’s previous logo, which was initially branded in 1993.
“Since we live in a digital age, our new logo has strong lines and a bold design that function across all media platforms,” Welsh added.
Following a short video, the new university logo was officially presented, featuring a red, black, and grey color scheme with sharp geometric properties, contrasting the rounded, scenic qualities of its predecessor.
“Having a cohesive visual identity enhances our already strong feelings of community, which is already a major component of our strategic plans,” continued Welsh.
The event continued with the presentation of the new athletic logo, which following along with the same color scheme, contained an avatar attired in a gladiator helmet, along with the prominent initials of ESU.
“Our team has been known as the Warriors since 1932, and over the past two decades they have been represented by just a wordmark rather than an actual identity,” Welsh explained.
“Our new athletic logo marks give our warriors an identity that is confident, bold and eager to champion ESU.”
Shortly thereafter, ESU Athletics Director Josh Looney described his feelings on the new athletic logo.
“From an athletic perspective, this mark right here—it’s a game changer for us,” he stated. “For our student-athletes, for our coaches, for our prospective student-athletes, it will usher in an era of athletics and a new era of ESU in the next generation of students that will come and represent ESU here.”
This new age of representation was the primary goal of the university’s rebranding process.
“This whole brand identity is one little piece of an overarching marketing and branding initiative that we started back in 2015,” explained Brenda Friday, Director of University Relations, “so this has been something that the university has never really done before.”
The early stages of the project commenced with the hiring of Joe Basack & Co., who broke down some of the marketing and branding work further in order to begin the research process for the new logos, Friday continued.
Throughout the process, the top priority was getting the opinions of the student population.
“We were really heavy on research for about a year, and we did some focus groups, some in-depth interviews, and some surveys out on the web with all of our different constituents, including students that didn’t come to ESU but were accepted,” she elaborated.
After plenty of data collection, a recurring theme emerged from the various research methods.
“We didn’t really have a great identity and we didn’t really have a good awareness of what ESU was all about,” Friday continued.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Kenneth Long shared similar sentiments.
“When you start going out and saying ‘Why ESU?’, some will say the price, others will say the academic programs,” he began, “but what we’re trying to do is say, ‘Hey, who are we as an institution?’. What our research showed was that people knew who we used to be, but no one knows who we really are today.”
This process has been a small step in response to a much bigger issue.
“The gist of this is to really get out there,” Long continued. “We’re in a much more competitive market now where everyone is recruiting everywhere, and we can’t just rely on that being from the Stroudsburg area will mean that you’ll automatically come here. Those days are gone.”
It was this reality that spurned much of the initiative to rebrand.
“We can’t afford to sit here and say that everyone knows who we are,” Long added. “Yeah, they know who we were, but let’s make sure they know who we are.”
It was in this development process that demonstrated the feasibility of older advertising and communication methods.
“We have to change the way we do things,” Friday asserted, “and it’s not just newspaper or advertising, it’s not being on billboards on the way to the Lehigh Valley. We really have to switch it up.”
Naturally, this switch is occurring on a full-blown scale.
On Jan. 24, a week after the initial reveal, hundreds of students gathered in the Koehler Fieldhouse to witness the widely advertised presentation of the university’s new mascot.
Following the performances of many student groups, including the Musical Theatre Organization; Xplosion, the university step team; the University Dance Team; the University Marching Band; and Vocal Variations, the a capella group.
At long last, the mascot took center stage, revealing itself to be a Roman-esque warrior clad in gladiatorial armor, bearing a stark resemblance to the figure characterized in the new athletic logo.
As the event came to a close, he posed for pictures with many students and faculty.
Friday stresses that such activeness among the student population is essential to the university as the project continues.
“Social media is going to be playing a great role in we’re going to be asking the students to help us name our new mascot,” she affirmed.
This attitude is backed up by Long.
“This is not a cheap endeavor,” he stated. “We’re going into the third year, with about $350,000 per year, so this is something we really take seriously.”
“It’s a long-term commitment,” added Public Relation Manager Elizabeth Richardson. “We want to make sure that you have something to be proud of. We want to know that in ten years, there are still students within that hour and a half drive that know who we are.”
Regardless of the university’s present transitioning stage, it can be certain that ESU has cemented itself on breaking away from images of the past and embarking on a path to the future, whatever it may bring.
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