Image provided by WCU website.
On Oct. 25, 2021, West Chester University (WCU) of Pennsylvania charged through 150-year-old purple and gold gates to make way for something new: that Monday morning, WCU unleashed their public rebrand on its website and social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn).
Known as “Find Your Element,” the rebrand launched across various facets of WCU. Essentially, the core message is this: “Here you’re encouraged to pursue your passions and shine your brightest. Here’s where you can find your element — whatever it may be — and become the best version of yourself. If you’re ready to turn your potential into possible, you’re ready for West Chester University.”
Boasting a bold, modern sans-serif typeface and a brighter interpretation of the traditional West Chester University purple-gold color palette, the rebrand is a refreshing new look into the future WCU aims to shed its light on.
“Know that our purple and gold continues to dominate, our beloved mascot Rammy still reigns and our logo remains intact,” said President Fiorentino and the senior leaders of the University’s executive Cabinet, in an university-wide email. “It is our spirit that has been ignited. West Chester University’s refreshed brand helps us underscore our story, show the depths of our purple and gold passion and communicate about ourselves to the world.”
WCU’s official Instagram (@wcuofpa), echoes these unifying, passionate sentiments. On Oct. 25, the account posted a collection of photos on their feed that had taglines such as “Rams Climb Higher,” “Shine Your Brightest,” “Rams Charge Together” and “Charge On.”
On a technical level, the rebrand process began on Oct. 4 — aspects had started to make its way to digital and print channels, such as airing on Comcast and being published on billboards. Oct. 25, however, marks the true first phase of the rebrand.
In total, there are three phases. Phase one has already taken place; select sites and pages, particularly those with high traffic, received a revamping, complete with a new header and footer on Oct. 25, 2021. Said sites and pages included the following: WCU home page, Undergraduate Admissions home page, The Graduate School home page, Philadelphia Campus home page, Financial Aid home page, Admissions, Academics, Student Life, Faculty/Staff and Apply Now. Additionally, a new navigation bar was configured into the site, narrowing down the navigation options to four links. For the links that are no longer present, a new “menu” button was implemented as well.
Phase two will not take place until Feb. 25, 2022. The secondary phase’s page revamp includes: Colleges/Schools home pages, Divisions home pages, Program Pages, the Registrar home page and Bursar home page.
Phase three is unlike phases one and two, in which there is no set date for it to go live. Instead, phase three occurs on a rolling basis — accounting for both any remaining sites and any pages that were outside the scope of phases one and two.
The rebrand is said to have been two years in the making. According to Nancy Gainer, Assistant Vice President for University Communications and Marketing, when WCU started its launch of a strategic plan in 2019, the approach of WCU’s 150th anniversary brought about a period of reevaluation. “We recognized that the timing was right to step back and examine what truly makes us special, while we worked to define and articulate our identity,” Gainer stated. “Amidst an increasingly competitive higher education market, we realized that strengthening our brand identity in a powerful way would enable us to articulate the University’s unique strengths and convey exactly what makes us so ‘golden’ in one, consistent voice.”
WCU’s Communications and Marketing team worked alongside Philadelphia-based advertising agency 160/90, in which the process kicked off with an at-random interview process of 300+ students, alumni, parents, faculty, Council of Trustees and other stakeholders. As described on WCU’s website, the rebrand “intentionally incorporates the University’s bright past and bold future into a refreshed look, feel and tone” and “captures WCU’s spirit in an environment that takes pride in promoting excellence and inclusivity, opening doors and providing opportunities that may otherwise be inaccessible.”
It is a message aimed at current and prospective students alike. “Current students can find their individual ‘elements’ at WCU as the University provides access, promotes inclusivity, advocates excellence, opens doors, provides opportunities, and nurtures success,” Gainer said. “For prospective students, the message means that West Chester University is the place where they can truly find themselves as they, too, embark on a journey of self-discovery.”
A new marketing piece being sent to prospective students describes it best: “When you take your first step on campus, you’ll get it — that ‘this is it’ feeling. That’s because there’s something truly special about this place. A place where you will go from potential to possible on a path directly to your future. Whether you begin as a first year or transfer student, you’ll have the freedom to do what you love, the encouragement to pursue your passions and the inspiration to shine your brightest. Get ready to become the best version of yourself.”
“Renewed. Inspired. Optimistic,” stated President Fiorentino. “It is our hope that the University’s refreshed brand resonates with each of you and that the next generation of Golden Rams will find their element with us on this very campus. Our time has come.
“This is our golden moment.”
Julien Padillo is a fourth-year Media & Culture major with a minor in Digital Marketing. JP913571@wcupa.edu