Development Summary

The graphic identity committee was recommended by President’s Council in November of 1999 to serve in an advisory capacity regarding the potential implementation of an institutional graphic standard and included a representative group of faculty, staff and students.
Committee members included:
Jerry Oberst, Committee Chair
Julie Blissert
Saleem Cheeks (student)
Cynthia Clabough
Mike Flaherty
Joseph Grant
Linda Rae Markert
Ray O’Donnell
Walter Opello
Jody Longeill
Betsy Oberst
Yvonne Petrella
Matt Silverman (student)
Alison Finsterwalder
Richard Bush

A summary of the work of the committee, or sub-groups of the committee follows:

Phase 1: Introduction and Communications Audit

Initially the group worked with an outside agency, and subsequently with an independent designer, on this project. During the first phase of the project an audit of Oswego’s various logotypes was completed. This work clearly demonstrated the wide range of graphic identity treatments then in use on campus (over 40 were documented) — as well as the confusion and lack of institutional identification that resulted.

Phase 2: Development and Testing

In the second phase of the project, a number of logos suggestive of certain college traits as identified by committee members were developed. Initial and extensive testing of these options (focus group and interview testing with over 400 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and visitors) in April of 2000 did not provide a strong endorsement for any of the design options. Therefore, the committee recommended exploration of new design options guided by the program's original goals, testing results, and the committee’s continued input. A decision was also made to discontinue services with the agency previously selected and to employ the services of a free lance graphic designer. After reviewing designs proposed by the new designer, the committee recommended a new round of testing.

During the subsequent testing of graphic identity options feedback was gathered from some 100+ alumni, faculty, staff, and students. Clear preferences emerged from this most recent round of testing. Specifically, a preference for an option including a streamlined cupola from Oswego’s Sheldon Hall integrated with an Oswego wordmark, was found among all groups. Generally speaking, it was found that these options provided a stronger and more “integrated” look that incorporated elements of tradition with a contemporary feel.

Because of this most recent testing, and the committee's discussion, the committee recommended continuation of the program through implementation of a design option supported by this most recent research.

In a recommendation to the President, the committee also supported:

  • the process followed which has fostered a better understanding of the need for, and application of, a graphic identity program
  • the “collegiate” direction the revised graphic identity options provides
  • use of “The State University of New York” in the selected graphic identity
  • implementation of a graphic standards program, including development of a standards manual (including suggestions for specific fonts to support the graphic identity for body copy, headlines, etc.), as well as further direction and support for the campus to achieve the standard
  • consideration for use of an Oswego “college seal” for designated institutional applications (requiring design and graphic standards direction beyond the scope of the current graphic design project)
  • the rollout of institutional publications, letterhead, electronic media, advertising, etc., as soon as possible and practical to support the graphic identity program
Phase 3: Refinement and Implementation

During the 3rd phase, the logo underwent minor refinement with guidance provided by President’s Council. Ultimately, in July 2001 a final version of the logo was approved by President’s Council and was disseminated as part of a two-page identity guide to President’s Council and appropriate administrative users. Plans were also adopted to utilize the following timetable to implement the remainder of the project:

  • August/September 2001 — Distribution of the two-page identity guide to the entire campus community with a letter of endorsement from the President
  • August/September 2001 — Formalization of a three-person Graphic Standards Panel to help with continuing implementation of Oswego’s Graphic Standards program, including addressing issues of interpretation, implementation and evolution of our Graphic Standards program.
  • September 2001 — Announcements of our Graphic Standards program through appropriate campus and local media
  • Fall 2001 to Spring 2002 — Completion of a larger and more comprehensive “Graphic Standards Manual” modeled after manuals used at other universities and placement on the manual on the Web as a downloadable PDF file.
Committee Endorsement

Overall, while committee members recognized the inevitability of wide ranging opinions when conducting this type of research, they were very comfortable with the process they had followed and were clear in their support of program implementation. And it was also clear from focus group and interview research (with a total of over 500 faculty, staff, students, alumni and campus visitors) that the overall graphic identity program was widely supported by the campus community. Further, committee members felt a number of important goals could now be attained as a result of this program, including creation of a logo and graphic identity that will:

  • better identify Oswego and help the institution to better communicate with our various publics
  • rejuvenate, reinforce and unify the college’s image
  • be versatile and adaptable
  • remain effective over the long term
Perhaps most importantly, however, the committee has won the institution’s support and continues to influence the campus culture regarding recognition of the need for institutional graphic identity.