CofC Logo

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a brand?
Why are we “branding” the College of Charleston?
How do we select the elements of the College of Charleston brand?
What is a visual identity and style guide?
Why does the College need visual identity and style guidelines?
What role do I have in the College of Charleston brand?
How do we build a strong public image?
Can I continue to use an existing logo, mark or graphic for my department, office or unit?
How does the visual identity and style guide help each unit?

What is a brand?

A brand is a statement of shared beliefs about who we are, how we’re different and why we’re special. We use that statement of shared beliefs to form the basis for all of our marketing and communications. A strong brand helps us demonstrate our common purpose and identity. It enhances the College of Charleston’s reputation, sets us apart from our competitors, creates awareness and establishes relevance with our audiences. It is not just what we say about the College, it is also what other people say, feel and believe about the College. At its heart, our brand is our promise to our constituents and stakeholders about the complete experience they will have when they engage with the College of Charleston. Each of us is responsible for keeping and strengthening the promises we make to our current and prospective students, alumni, parents, community, donors and our many other constituents.

Why are we “branding” the College of Charleston?

Branding is the process of using marketing and communications to influence attitudes toward, and perceptions of, our brand. Every day, thousands of people see communications and marketing materials from the College of Charleston: business cards, correspondence, brochures, admissions materials, reports, magazines, websites, presentations, event invitations, posters, forms and applications, building and vehicle signs, apparel and gift items. Each and every one of these items represents the College of Charleston and forms the basis for people’s long-lasting attitudes and opinions about the College. These opinions affect actions – whether an excellent prospective student chooses us, whether a world-class scholar decides to join the faculty, whether a foundation awards a major grant or whether a donor funds a facility or endows a scholarship. A strong brand and visual identity unifies our communications and helps them create positive attitudes and opinions. The consistent application of our brand, visual identity and style differentiates the College of Charleston from similar organizations and expresses the College’s unique qualities in a way that creates a clear, positive and memorable impression. No matter what part of the College we represent, our primary brand is always the College of Charleston.

How do we select the elements of the College of Charleston Brand?

The elements of the College of Charleston brand and visual identity were not selected arbitrarily. The wordmark, brand story, key attributes, colors, fonts and visual identity derive from a rigorous, campuswide process of research, discussion and collaboration. A task force composed of more than 35 faculty, staff and students reviewed new and existing research and, based upon the research findings, made decisions regarding the College of Charleston’s desired institutional image and reputation, key messages and graphic identity. For information about this process, please visit the Integrated Marketing and Communications Task Force website at marketing.cofc.edu/taskforce.

What is a visual identity and style guide?

A visual identity and style guide provides clear procedures for achieving an effective, high-quality and consistent presentation of College of Charleston print and electronic materials, publications, advertising and websites. These standards encompass proper use of the College wordmark, the College’s official fonts and colors, and best-practice design standards for College marketing and communications. The elements of the brand story and visual identity will appear in publications, advertising, stationery, business cards, press releases, photography and other visual communications, websites and licensed and trademarked products.

Why does the College need visual identity and style guidelines?

All of the marketing and communications materials the College generates provide particular information. At the same time, each piece also projects an overall image of the College. Visual identity and style guidelines unify our communications and help make this image clear, consistent and intentional. These standards also increase the overall quality of printed pieces and make the production of marketing items easier, faster and less costly.

What role do I have in the College of Charleston brand?

Whenever you communicate with others as a member of the College of Charleston community, your materials, and your words, either strengthen or weaken the College of Charleston’s public image. This is an effect of both the specific information you provide as well as the clarity, tone, style and professionalism with which the information is presented. If the College of Charleston is to be recognized as a first-class university, our marketing and communications materials must be of the highest quality. Thus each of us is responsible for maintaining the high standards of our brand promise.

How do we build a strong public image?

The key to a strong image is clarity and consistency. When our communications are clearly conveying the same overall message, they work in concert – communications and marketing projects from different units reinforce each other. When our communications are visually integrated, they present our diverse institution as a well-organized, singularly focused whole. And when our communications are of a high caliber, they convey that the College of Charleston provides students an educational experience that also is high caliber.

Can I continue to use an existing logo, mark or graphic for my department, office or unit?

As noted in the previous question, one very important key to a strong brand is consistency. If everyone at the College of Charleston uses a different mark or symbol to represent their department, office or unit, then that consistency is lost. Departments, offices and units are therefore not permitted to develop visual identity systems, marks, logos or graphics that are divergent from the College’s core visual identity, which includes the College wordmark and visual identity, as well as the athletics marks.

How does the visual identity and style guide help each unit?

If everyone at the College of Charleston communicates clearly and consistently, the College becomes more recognizable, which strengthens not just the institution as a whole, but individual programs within the College. This recognition and positive public image benefits us all.