In late August, as the fall semester was about to begin, GW revealed a new visual identity designed to more accurately represent the vision, spirit, and energy of the GW community. The debut coincides with the university's 100th anniversary in Foggy Bottom, as well as a reorganized strategic plan that will guide GW's trajectory for the next 10 years, culminating with the university's 2021 bicentennial.
Lorraine Voles, BA '81, GW's vice president for external relations and GW alumna, says that the new visual identity is "more representative of the university we are today."
The road to a new look began in 2010, when a committee of students, faculty members, staff members, and alumni developed a message strategy that conveys GW's unique qualities. The university then hired consulting firms to both refresh the university's core identity elements and create the new look and feel for marketing and communications materials. (Existing identity elements, created in 2002, were no longer translating well to current digital applications, particularly mobile devices.)
Jessica McConnell Burt
The essence of this new identity is a more accurate and distinct definition of GW's core attributes. Specifically, an unrivaled location in the heart of the nation's capital, rigorous academics, and the "only at GW" opportunities that help define our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. As part of the new launch, the university unveiled its signature system for schools and administrative departments. The athletics logo suite did not change.
"Our new identity is bold, passionate, and forward-looking," Ms. Voles says. "GW, in the heart of the nation's capital, offers a university experience that no other institution can offer. We want our materials to highlight our academics and research, as well as extracurricular activities and internship opportunities. The new dynamic look more accurately describes how our students, faculty, and staff make a difference in the world through their research, public service, and connections to important institutions in D.C. and around the world."
Jessica McConnell Burt
The new portrait of GW's namesake reflects this forward-looking vision and was created by Columbian College of Arts and Sciences alumnus and GW staff member John McGlasson, BA '00, MFA '03. Mr. McGlasson based his custom image on Jean Antoine Houdon's sculpture, which is known as the most accurate representation of our first president. The university worked closely with the curator of Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens to ensure the historical integrity of the portrait. A replica of this sculpture is in the University Yard; the original is located at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond.
Another alumnus, Christopher Nurko, BA '84, MA '87, global chairman of the consulting branding firm FutureBrand, was actively involved in the project. FutureBrand, along with Philadelphia-based firm 160over90 were the two firms employed to assist GW with the new look. Mr. Nurko received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Elliott School of International Affairs.
GW President Steven Knapp said the identity change is "a true reflection of our institution and its transformation over the next decade," and that the update is "an important opportunity to communicate the GW story with striking, bold visual elements."
Promotion for the identity launch began in August with a "takeover" at the Foggy Bottom Metro station and continued with an Aug. 26 celebration in the Marvin Center Ballroom. Promotion is currently ongoing via the Making History campaign, which allows students, faculty members, staff members, and alumni to record their GW stories and share them on the campaign's website, YouTube, or Flickr.
All alumni are invited to contribute by sharing their stories at gwu.edu/makinghistory.
—The original version of this story appeared in the Colonial Cable.
Jessica McConnell Burt
The university has launched a new campaign to demonstrate how members of its community have made an impact on the world using the knowledge and relationships developed while at GW. The heart of the campaign is a website (makinghistory.gwu.edu) that features stories of the GW community and how they have made history in big and small ways. To make it convenient for members of the GW community to share their stories, this mobile television studio was on campus at various times in August, September, and October.
You can submit your story (video, photo, or text) at makinghistory.gwu.edu/submit-your-story. If you have any questions about Making History and the submission process, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A logo change is a typical process for organizations. Here are GW logos throughout the years.