Sunday, May 08, 2005

Slogans--Even Universities Have Them

I was amused when I came across a story about brand identity in higher education. A quick click or two of the mouse took me to the Stamat page linked in this story, where 575 slogans used by colleges and universites are listed.

Stamat is a consulting company that specializes in higher education. Their tagline is Promises Kept. I'm not sure what it means, but it sounds nice. No one would hire a consulting firm that had the slogan Promises Unkept.

Once I started looking at the list of slogans, I immediately found one I liked. Mississippi College's tagline is A Christian University. In three short words I know a lot about that college. Not all Christian schools do as well. Philadelphia Biblical University, which I assume must be Christian, uses the tagline A Distinctive Approach. That's too vague for my taste. It could mean anything. Do they combine devil worship with their Bible studies? That would be a distinctive approach. Maybe they should change it to read A Distinctive Approach to Christian Values, or something like that.

Some schools emphasize a foundations approach in their slogans. A Firm Foundation for a Life of Opportunities is the tagline at Eastern College in Pennsylvania. Berry College in Georgia takes a similar tack, claiming A Foundation for Life. I guess the word "firm" is implied in the Berry College slogan, since no one would want a soft foundation or an unsound foundation for life. I wonder why Eastern College found it necessary to include the word "firm" explicitly. I think that word could go. It would make the slogan easier to fit on a bumper sticker.

Other schools lay out a vision of the future. A Distinguished Past and A Bold Future is how the University of Georgia Law School brands itself. I didn't know that law professors were psychic. How else would they know that the school has a bold future? Troy University in Alabama keeps it simple with A Future of Opportunities. There's that word "opportunities" that Eastern College uses. I'm beginning to suspect that schools select from the same short list of words to create their taglines.

The school where I work uses the tagline Come Here, Go Far. A search of the Stamat database didn't turn up my school. I guess the slogan is too simple for Stamat to include. None of the big words that so often appear in university slogans are present. I think our students like the slogan, though. After a semester or two here many of them do seem to go far. As far away as they can get from here. Maybe we should change the slogan to read Come Here, Stay Here. That could help solve our retention problem. Or how about Come Here, You'll Want to Stay. You see what I'm getting at.

I'm learning so much about different schools just from seeing their slogans. Most of the schools I've never even heard of. I've only gone as far as the second page on the Stamat list. I'll look at the rest of the slogans later. So, which is my favorite slogan of the 40 that I've seen so far? . . . Shout for joy. That's what Hope College in Michigan says to do. I'd go along with that if I were one of their students. A person's college years ought to be a happy time, in spite of the exams and grades that go along with getting an education. Of course, I'll bet that Hope students, like all other college students, shout for joy the most when spring break rolls around. See why I like that slogan the best? It's universal. Any school could use it and it would be true.



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