STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 03/30/2007

FEATURE | A New Look Built On a Century of Tradition

Story Patricia A. Jones
Photos Daniel Kiyoi '08

Last fall Gordon College completed a comprehensive survey of all its constituencies-current students, their parents, alumni, donors and prospective students. The results were encouraging. Among people who know Gordon best--people who have studied here and their parents--the satisfaction rate was high, with more than 80% of respondents reporting that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience or their child's experience at Gordon. These numbers would be quite enviable for any institution of higher education.

We also learned that people who did not have a personal connection to Gordon were not aware of the full dimensions of the College. There was high awareness of Gordon as a Christian college with a strong ethos of open inquiry. There was dramatically lower awareness of the quality of our academics, our global engagement and our preparation of leaders to serve in a wide array of professions. Our faculty report that students who enroll at Gordon are surprised at how much more difficult the curriculum is than they expected. Clearly, we have not presented a complete picture of ourselves.

Our first step in addressing this perception gap was to examine our materials and our graphic identity. We learned a lot about how students make decisions about colleges. Tradition matters, heritage matters and quality matters.

Focus groups with current students and discussions with faculty members confirmed that the Gordon College seal has real meaning to them in representing their time here. The symbols within it are affirmatively and unwaveringly Christian. But it also conveys our New England-based tradition of quality academics. Unlike many Christian colleges, Gordon has more than a century of history preparing young Christians--men and women of varied backgrounds and races--for service in the world. This heritage is both reassuring and meaningful.

Based on this research and our conversations, we have designed a new graphic identity that allows for a broader portrayal of the many aspects of the College. The heart of this identity is a new logo. The new mark features the seal in the tradition of the most academically rigorous institutions of higher education. It also includes a new typeface that represents a forward-thinking, global organization. The typeface has interest in and of itself. It's a relatively new one that is currently being used by the World Trade Center Memorial.

The graphics are the first step. The next is to engage in a constituency-wide conversation about the distinctives of Gordon College, particularly as it relates to our current tagline, "Freedom within a Framework of Faith." The questions we are asking this semester are: Does our tagline represent the full experience of Gordon? Is it clear in describing our ethos of openness? What is the essence of who we are? We would appreciate hearing from you as well.

Read more about the rebrand: A New Logo--Our Traditional Seal--A New Brand Emerges

Pat Jones is the director of college communications and leads the effort to revitalize Gordon's image.