With a new president and a new strategic plan, Wheaton College, a private liberal arts school in Norton, Massachusetts, was eager to engage staff, faculty and alumni in shaping the college’s future. While the school prided itself on its passionate faculty, inclusive community and individual education, it faced strong competition, struggling to differentiate itself from other New England liberal arts schools and from Wheaton College in Illinois, a similarly small liberal arts school with a vastly different philosophy. Poor name recognition as well as a lack of clarity about the school’s value proposition added to the challenge. Minelli was engaged to help Wheaton build a brand that would increase visibility, drive differentiation and spur engagement.
With a strong understanding of the higher education landscape and experience working with complex organizations, we worked with senior administrators at the college to quickly implement a comprehensive research phase to capture the voices of the school’s diverse audiences and gain a deeper understanding of the school’s primary competitors. Influenced by the experiences of students, faculty, staff and board members, we developed a new brand and identity that celebrates the school’s inspiring environment, the opportunities and possibilities enjoyed by students, and the unconditional support and encouragement students receive from the Wheaton community. The new brand, summed up in the phrase “Igniting the spark of possibility,” has energized the school community, reinforced an already strong culture and reshaped their public-facing materials.
The school’s new visual identity is simple, modern, memorable and forward looking while remaining connected to the rich history of the college. The new logo stands out among peer colleges and clearly distinguishes the school from the Wheaton College in Illinois. Expressed with an energetic visual and verbal vocabulary that is passionate, conversational and deeply optimistic, the new brand reflects the school’s inclusive culture. Unveiled to the college community in March 2017 and to the public at large in August 2017, Wheaton’s new brand embraces and amplifies the school’s unique strengths and sets them on a path rich with possibilities.