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Rosenblum: Graphic identity enhances recognition

The College has adopted a new logo as part of the transformation of its visual identity in an attempt to make the overall appeal of the school more distinctive and to help gain national recognition.

“The College has a wonderful reputation in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and parts of New York,” Jesse Rosenblum, associate vice president for College Relations, said, “but we would like the institution to become more nationally recognized.”

According to Rosenblum, two years ago, Lipman Hearne, a marketing and communications firm, was hired to give the College recommendations of how to do this.

Lipman Hearne, along with a group of students, faculty, staff, legislators, board members, corporate executives, alumni, prospective students and other constituencies submitted suggestions in the form of a “strategic position platform.”

One recommendation, Rosenblum said, was to derive a more distinctive visual identity.

“We don’t like calling it a logo because it’s so more than just that,” Cathy Friedman, assistant director of College Relations said.

Rosenblum used the term “branding the institution” to convey the College’s desire to become more distinctive. “It’s like the Kellogg’s brand,” he said. “You look at it and, boom, you know that it’s worth something.”

The new identity was developed by The North Charles Street Design Organization of Baltimore, Maryland, which was in the process of assisting the College with marketing initiatives.

“This is a top class organization with some of the best designers,” Rosenblum said. Friedman agreed. “In the Kaplan ‘Hot’ Schools in 2002, three of the top nine were North Charles Street clients,” she said.

“They really capture the personality of a school,” Friedman added. “So many colleges have clock tower logos,” Rosenblum said.

Friedman cited several colleges, among them Montclair State University, Drew University and Rowan University, which have clock tower logos.

“Our student profile is comparable to that of the University of Chicago,” Rosenblum said. “We want to position ourselves to be the finest public undergraduate college in the nation that can compete with the best private institutions. Therefore we need a visual identity that is distinct and unique.”

Some students, however, feel as if our institution has not yet reached such a level of prestige. “I feel like the College is trying to conform to look better than we are,” Christine Pinto, freshman secondary English education major, said. “It’s like we’re losing our sense of identity, not gaining one,” she added.

According to Rosenblum, in 1983 the College, as Trenton State College, did not have a logo. “It was just people doing their own thing,” Rosenblum said.

In 1996, one week before the College made its name change, Rosenblum’s office derived the first logo, the clock tower.

“We didn’t have time to go into the same process like we do now,” he said. Friedman said an existing piece of art depicting the clock tower was used.

“We just took some letters and slapped it on,” Rosenblum said. “So (the clock tower logo) doesn’t have the great significance some students may think,” he added.

Friedman said that the old logo was also not very functional. “The bookstore was also unhappy because the logo was an odd shape and, therefore, not easy to work with,” she said.

The clock tower logo, unlike the College’s new mark, also lacks a graphics standards manual that describes correct usage. “We need a consistent image for the public face of the institution,” Rosenblum said.

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein wrote of a similar concept in her e-mail to the campus. “Used correctly and consistently, this visual identity will, over time, help to build a strong, coherent brand for the entire College,” she said.

Friedman said that there was concern about the use of “TCNJ” in the logo. “So many people use TCNJ that we don’t think it will ever go away,” she said. “The idea is to make people associate TCNJ with the College.”

The wordmark contains the letters “TC” accompanied by a larger “NJ.”

“New Jersey is the heart of the name of the institution, which we want to own,” Rosenblum said of the larger letters.

According to a Web site containing parts of the style manual, the symbol “takes advantage of the four letters’ visual harmony.”

In President Gitenstein’s letter on the Web site, she says the new identity, “makes reference to the Georgian Colonial style of the campus.”

Rosenblum said that when groups across campus were presented with the idea of a new image, the reaction was supportive.

In addition to presenting the idea to several important campus leaders, Rosenblum said that he also described the plans at an open public meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Both Rosenblum and Friedman said that they have received several e-mails from concerned students.

“I have invited students to speak with me, and I’d be happy to meet with any groups or individuals to explain that this is a thoughtful process,” Rosenblum said.

Some students voiced their opinion of the similarity between the new logo and Princeton’s shield. “It’s like we’re a wanna-be Princeton,” Laura Gianella, freshman secondary English education major, said.

According to Rosenblum, “Princeton uses their seal, which is not at all copied from or anything like the new logo.”

Friedman also said there will be a page outlining frequently asked questions on the College’s Web site.

She said that she is aware of the Internet petition circulating, which asks President Gitenstein to remove the new logo and reinstate the old symbol. Those who signed the petition, which now contains almost 2,000 names, feel the new logo “does not represent our College community.”

Rosenblum said that he is aware of the rumors circulating, and that his office is planning to ask the petitioners to include a link to the FAQ page, so before signing the petition, students will be able to “get more in depth information on the topic,” he said.

Rosenblum, however, sees student concern as a compliment. “It shows they care and are passionate about this institution,” he said. Friedman agreed. “It would be almost disappointing if we implemented the new logo and no one talked about it,” she said.

Other concerns voiced by students included the impact the $15,000 spent in remaking the College’s image will have on school’s financial situation in light of the recent budget cuts.

“It doesn’t make sense to do this with the lack of money right now,” Kristina Dunne, freshman open options major, said.

Rosenblum, however, said that the new design with cause the College no financial strain. “The money was allotted before the budget cuts,” he said. “We are not going to spend one penny more on the new logo than on the old one.”

Rosenblum also said that if there had been news of the budget cuts before they had begun to put the new logo into practice, they would have not moved forward with the process.

Friedman said that money will not be spent to replace existing materials with the old logo. Instead, she said, materials will be ordered with the new logo after they expire.

For more information on the College’s new visual identity, go to http://www.tcnj.edu/~cr/gsg. html.


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