A new brand for Binghamton University

By Katie Ellis

Binghamton University BWho are we? We’ve been known by many names over the past nearly seven decades – Triple Cities College, Harpur College, SUNY-Binghamton, SUNY-B, University Center at Binghamton and Binghamton University to name a few. Trying to establish a brand and an identity isn’t easy.

Yet, with the competitive environment that is higher education, presenting a single, succinct and compelling story is essential for Binghamton University to move forward along its Road Map to Premier.

“To accomplish this, we must create and maintain a single brand identity,” said President Harvey Stenger. “Our brand is a promise of educational excellence, a way for us to connect emotionally with our audience and a means to creating lifelong relationships with our stakeholders.”

The visual aspect of the brand and the consistency of its use are key, said Stenger, and so the University is rolling out a new ‘B’ icon, as well as placing a stronger focus on the guidelines that address the use of the University’s logos, colors, fonts and seal.

“Think about it,” Stenger said. “Think about your name, your visual identity and your nicknames. The word university always comes after the name of a city if the city’s name is part of the school’s name. We’re Binghamton University. And that gets abbreviated to Binghamton, like Syracuse University becomes Syracuse, or even ’cuse. 

“Next, it goes to the acronym of BU or SU, but that doesn’t work well for us or for many others. Brown University just goes by Brown, not BU,” he added. “So, the nickname as initials isn’t really that common. Think Cornell, Pitt. If someone asked me, ‘What’s your nickname?” I’d say Binghamton.”

Stenger admits that the University will never lose the BU acronym, but he doesn’t use it himself.

“What gets us here is SUNY Binghamton,” he said. “It’s not a bad name. It shows our relationship to the university centers, and has history and a strength in its name. I accept that as a praise and don’t try to correct it.”

But the icon, he said, has to be one letter. Pointing to the Bruins, Red Sox, Rutgers and Michigan as examples, Stenger said you see the single letter everywhere. “We’re young, learning these things and catching up,” he said. “We needed a single iconic letter. Our athletics marketing team and the University’s Office of Communications and Marketing both recognize having a single mark as important.”

Patrick Elliott, director of athletics, agrees. “The single letter is much more powerful,” he said. “And people will see it everywhere.”

Adapted from an existing athletics mark, the new ‘B’ appears to be in motion, Stenger said. “It’s flying, fast and could represent the fact that we are moving. We’re not standing still; we’re standing tall on our past history. It’s modern. It’s cool!”

“The University was looking for an icon that stood out from the crowd,” said Gregory Delviscio, associate vice president for communications and marketing. “After working with some members of the Student Association on ideas, we realized that the Athletics Department had used an icon for some time and it was already very well established. After looking at the options, we decided the ‘B’ was bolder without the ‘U.’

Already appearing in campus publications as well as on parking stickers and hang tags, IDs, pole banners and lapels around campus, the new ‘B’ is being phased into merchandise at the University Bookstore as well. There is currently some merchandise sporting the new ‘B’, but once the holiday season is over, the new look will fully replace the former BU, said Heather Sheffer, bookstore manager. “Holiday merchandise was ordered during the summer, before the new brand was released,” she said. “We order on a monthly basis, so will make the change based on the new, official brand licensing art sheet that has just become available.”

Elliott credits Stenger’s vision for the new emphasis on a single iconic mark and consistency in its use. “Much of this goes back to Harvey’s vision of school spirit,” he said. “We have such curb appeal that when we recruit a lot of athletes, they can’t believe how good we look. All of the details – the little things – matter. So we reinforce the brand and they know where we are … at Binghamton, with the best facilities in our conference.”

Building pride takes many different points of recognition and contact, Elliott added, and the new ‘B’ can be one of many things that help people feel more proud. “Now there’s this kind of subconscious feeling of pride because it will be associated with this speedy, strong, forward-leaning, modern, distinctive look that provides visual confirmation that it’s Binghamton,” he said. “It will be recognizable everywhere and nobody will confuse us with anybody else.”

Stenger is looking for the campus to embrace and support maintenance of a clear, unified brand identity. “After all,” he said. “Our brand is one of our most important assets.”


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Last Updated: 9/26/16