I was minding my own business when I came across this: “Rhode Island College has a new slogan and logo.”
…followed by: “RIC President Nancy Carriuolo says the fresh design will be part of the school's new advertising and promotional campaign.” I was snoozing along until I came across this flapping red flag: “And it was all done without spending a penny on outside consultants.”
Whaaat? No consultants? I kicked our old heating vent into silence and read on. It was noted that “there are firms that focus on images and slogans and charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop them” and that “In keeping with her theme of new leadership and vision, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo formed an 8-person branding committee using in-house staff.” The committee managed the process and selected this:
Oh friends, I wanted to love it. The story is so touching. Brassy little college eschews the ghastly, over-paid consultants and goes it alone with – a COMMITTEE! No dashing, smooth-talking brandsingers for them. We can do this IN-HOUSE. These are bad-news bears… feisty underdogs… avenging nerds. Go you little college go! Find your slogan… It’s in the dictionary... We just have to get everyone involved… have a process… piece it together… I see Inspire… it starts with an I – which goes perfectly with Island… and we’ll need a logo… so pass around the Crayolas and tablets… Okay, who is for burnt umber – hands please! We all have to feel good about it… and then… we’ll ask our committee to choose the type-face… All in favor of sans-serif!... Do we agree that it looks clean and modern? and then… we can get consensus on which word goes up-and-down and which one goes left-to-right… People, please! If you can’t decide by 3:30 we’ll have to hire a consultant!
Dear friends, I did want to love the fruits of the committee’s labor. I often despair at the high prices consultants charge for mediocre work. I wanted the gutsy guys in this little state by the sea to reach out, inspire one another and connect with the spirit of Prometheus or Athena and not with Gerald Ford or Katie Couric. But friends, try as I might to be smitten by their logo and “slogan,” as it’s called, I cannot in good conscience (sorry to lapse into cliché) say about any of it a single, solitary good word.
To prove that my scorn is not baseless, professional pride and protectionism, I give you the first two lines from RIC “about us":
RIS is “located on a 180-acre campus in the Mount Pleasant section of Providence” a “location” that “combines easy access to the benefits and resources of the metropolitan area with a suburban atmosphere.” And lo! for more inspiration read on “about us”: “Rhode Island College has undergone expansion in recent decades” ready for this? “at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”
YOU SWEET PEOPLE BY THE SEA, IT’S NOT A SLOGAN THAT YOU NEED!
You need a true understanding of who you are – beyond “located on a 180-acre campus” offering metropolitan and suburban amenities. You need to identify and express what you and only you offer the world. It is there within your hallways in the laughter of your students and the wise words of your staff. You are a unique place with eager, talented learners and caring, knowledgeable teachers. You need to throw away your logo and slogan and hire – for peanuts compared with what you will get in return – someone who can plumb the depths of your institutional soul and find words and pictures that will help you and the citizens of your tiniest of states come up with – and realize – the biggest of dreams.