Forward-thinking, inclusive and personal—those are the qualities that people who know Wheaton best associate with the college.
That finding comes from the most recent survey conducted as part of the college’s yearlong brand discovery project, which has included numerous opportunities for alumnae/i, students, parents, faculty and staff to offer their ideas and perspectives on Wheaton’s identity, strengths and aspirations.
More than 800 alumnae/i, students, faculty and staff responded to the survey, which also offered respondents the opportunity to share their thoughts on Wheaton’s unique attributes and characteristics through open-ended questions.
“Starting with direction from the college community’s Strategic Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in February 2016, we have spent the past year exploring how we can most effectively represent the strengths of Wheaton of today and our direction for the future,” said Gene Begin, vice president for Marketing and Communications.
President Dennis M. Hanno said the brand discovery and development project is a critical step toward achieving the goals that the community outlined in the strategic plan.
“Wheaton is an amazing institution and community,” Hanno said. “The brand project is all about developing the most effective way to share what makes this college a truly unique institution and one that creates meaningful change by offering students an outstanding liberal arts education.”
The outreach to the Wheaton community engaged more than 1,500 alumnae/i, faculty, parents, staff, students, and trustees through focus groups, one-on-one interviews, online surveys and workshops. It followed an external research effort that surveyed nearly 1,200 prospective students, prospective parents, and guidance counselors.
Overall, the majority of alumnae/i and students described themselves as highly likely to recommend Wheaton to others. However, many also admitted to having experienced instances where others confused their alma mater with the Wheaton College located in Illinois.
Beyond the surveys, interviews and group discussions, the project has included supplemental socioeconomic and demographic research, competitive benchmarking and a campus-wide communications audit.
“What comes across very clearly in all of our conversations with alumnae/i is that graduates see Wheaton as offering a strong and personal academic experience in a unique, transformative and inclusive culture,” Begin said. “As we go forward, they want the college to be bold, energetic and vibrant while maintaining the engaging, connected and deeply personal nature of our liberal arts programs.”
Wheaton’s updated brand identity will carry forward those ideas, expressed in part by the idea that the college strives to “ignite the spark of possibility” in students who go on to contribute to the world through their personal and professional lives. The brand initiative also will introduce new graphic elements and approaches, including a more visible inclusion of the institution’s Massachusetts location. The college’s seal and athletics identities will remain the same.
The integrated launch of the new brand, including a redesigned web presence, is slated to take place in August 2017.
Brand Initiative Timeline
- Wheaton Community Strategic Planning Process
(December 2014–December 2015)
- Prospective Audiences Market Research
(November 2015–January 2016)
- Strategic Plan Approved by Board of Trustees
- Brand Discovery with Wheaton Community
(April 2016–July 2016)
- Brand Cultivation with Wheaton Community
(September 2016–December 2016)
- Brand Testing with Prospective Audiences
(December 2016–January 2017)
- On-Campus Brand Celebration
- Integrated Brand Launch