How Wentworth’s New Logo Evolved

The new brand, tagline, and logo have been launched. The process for getting there took more than a year and, from the beginning, relied heavily on feedback from one of Wentworth’s most important audiences–prospective students and parents. This was a deliberative effort, with research, feedback, starts and stops, and lots of creative brainpower from inside and outside of the Institute.

Relying on Stakeholders

The university turned to two leading Boston creative agencies—Small Army and Stoltze—and stakeholders from across the Wentworth community, including accepted and current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Ultimately, through extensive conversations, testing and iteration, the following brand positioning statement or “moral of the story” emerged: “The sooner you take action, the sooner you improve your world.”

This statement, based on a distinguishing Wentworth trait, can be summarized as follows:

It’s what you do right now that defines our future—that’s the code we live by at Wentworth. It’s why we dive into our work, headfirst. When others see a setback, we see an opportunity. We have a relentless impatience with the world’s problems, never waiting to take action and create anew. It’s a mindset that sets us apart and drives us forward. And when it comes to improving our world, the University of Now is where it all begins.

Many factors convinced us that the university needed to hone its brand to focus on key attributes like its hallmark co-operative and active learning models and the hands-on ethos of our community.

For direction and insight, we looked back at Wentworth survey data about brand awareness—conducted in 2012 and then again in 2016—that reached more than 1,700 prospective students, current students, graduate students, alumni, faculty, and staff. We then used a design-thinking, agile and frequent testing approach to gain insights into our brand and what needed to change. We found that Wentworth had an awareness problem nationally and knew we needed to change that.

The Need to Modify

We started with two brand sprints, which determined that our current 5-factors brand was neither memorable nor on point in regard to Wentworth’s strengths. Students, faculty, and staff were involved in this process. We spent an hour on the phone with 20 prospective students and students who considered Wentworth and chose another school, as well as parents, to learn more about their decision making. Over and again, active learning came to the top of Wentworth’s desirable traits but was not captured in the existing brand. Survey respondents were supportive of the current logos, which is why the shield and the leopard were kept, while the 5-factors W was replaced with a more current W.

A cross-disciplinary team of students, faculty, and staff narrowed down seven creative agencies to two. We hired Small Army to do a secondary discovery process and review our brand, and we engaged the agency who created our previous logo to update our current graphic identity.

We surveyed all incoming students as to the direction of the brand and received 750 responses. Findings included:

  • 90% viewed themselves as go-getters validating the “urgency of taking action” direction we were heading in, and
  • 98% agreed that hands-on learning is the best way to learn.

Driven by Data

This data helped to shape the direction for the logo—most importantly we wanted it to build on the current graphic identity but to also convey positive action and movement.

We had three agencies developing logos in a competitive/collaborative format—a highly demanding and creative process that challenged everyone to do their best. More than 80 logos were developed and considered. We conducted a review of our competitors and checked to make sure that the final selections weren’t already in use.

We did small fan-out tests (20 to 40 people) four times with our students during the development of the brand and logo. The brand positioning was positively received with some adjustments. We tested the logos twice with small groups of our students. While the response was positive, we eliminated two finalists based on the feedback and developed two more logo options that reflected what we needed to communicate.

We did one final test through an online testing service of non-Wentworth potential students and generated 238 results. The “onward and upward” logo received the most votes.

Throughout the entire process, we kept our focus on recruiting students from across the country to Wentworth based on what would most attract their attention.