St. John's Launches New Brand Identity

Produced by: Office of Marketing and Communications

June 27, 2013

Marking a transformative moment in its 143-year history, St. John’s University has unveiled a fresh branding platform and graphic identity based on the knowledge gained and stories revealed during a yearlong study of its traditions, achievements and direction.

St. John’s will begin rolling out the new graphic identity this summer across University communications and campus facilities. Over the next several months, the brand will refresh publications, the Web and environmental graphics. The rollout continues this fall, with a number of kickoff events planned to officially introduce the brand.
 “This is an exciting time to introduce a distinctive new look for St. John’s,” said Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John's. “With growing recognition for prestigious programs and a network of accomplished alumni, this institution has emerged as an academic force among leading colleges and universities in New York City and across the country.”

“The redesigned brand conveys the energy of a new era in our University history,” said Martha Hirst, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “It’s a story that deserves to be told—not only to prospective students and their families, but to our alumni, friends, peers and the broader community around us and beyond, as an institution that has worked hard to have a strong global presence.”

Central to that story is a message “platform” identifying the University’s distinctive attributes:

    “Academic prestige without attitude”—a high quality education in an environment that encourages humility and grace;
    “The power of a global city and a world campus”—locations in New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world, and across the globe;
    “Success and service”—guided by our Vincentian heritage, with personal success comes the call to help those who are in need;
    “New York City’s teams”—women and men who are champions in their sports and in the classroom, representing the largest Division I athletics program in the city;
    “An alumni network that opens doors”—the presence of 166,000 graduates who connect to each other and the University for personal and professional good.

Rising academic stature is at the core of the rebranding. St. John’s routinely appears in The Princeton Review and other top rankings of leading American colleges and universities. Students and faculty continue to garner scholarly recognition, including a record number of Fulbright scholars alone—topping out at 10 this year. Professors also merit consistent media attention for expertise in their disciplines and achievements in research.

Today’s St. John’s is a global presence with students from 48 states and 114 countries. When it opened in 1870, it was a small college in central Brooklyn. Granted university status in 1906, St. John’s eventually outgrew its original environs, moving to Queens in 1955 and adding the Staten Island campus in 1970. The University remained a distinctly New York institution until the inauguration of its Rome, Italy, campus in 1995. Four years later, the first Queens residence halls were built. Since then, campuses have opened in Manhattan and Oakdale, NY, with a study-abroad location in Paris, France.

To build a brand that is authentic, data were gathered from many constituents through a yearlong brand study. Partnering with SimpsonScarborough, the Office of Marketing and Communications executed surveys and focus groups with more than 3,000 participants that identified the University’s key characteristics. The University enlisted the aid of Creative Communication Associates to create a brand that conveys the unique features of the St. John’s experience.

The new brand captures the energy of a University on the move. “Every institution needs to identify and communicate the characteristics that set it apart from its peers,” said Hallie Sammartino, Ph.D., Vice President for Marketing and Communications. “This comprehensive brand redesign will strengthen St. John’s ability to promote the qualities that distinguish its impressive history, Vincentian mission, academic achievements and contributions to the world around us—to the benefit of current and future students, faculty and alumni.”