James Niedzinski

Equinox Staff


If you look around the Keene State Campus, you can see owls, dozens of different owls.  You could spot dozens of owls in all different poses: holding diplomas or perhaps a soccer ball, an owl perched upon a pedestal, an owl exposing its wings, or perhaps an owl head imposed on a notebook.  However, all these different owls will soon be extinct, and only three owl logos will remain.

The three logos that remain will have their respective places on campus: one athletics, one academic, and one campus-wide logo.

“There were so many different owl logos out there.  If you looked across campus, everybody sort of had their own one.  Any marketing class will tell you that you want consistency in your campaign,” John Ratliff, the athletics director said.

The athletic department had little choice in the athletic logo design.

“Basically, they gave us a couple [designs] and we were allowed to change the position of the wing, and do some very minor changes to it.  The overall image of the logo had to stay intact, ”Ratliff said.

After the athletics department received the logo designs, Joe Tolman was then hired to adjust and spruce up the design.

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Tolman’s company, Logo All America, has designed two previous athletic logos.  According to Logo All America’s website, they work closely with Bulldog Design, who is the exclusive seller and supplier of all KSC athletic apparel.

One minor change was having both claws of the flying owl pointed downward; the original logo had one up and one down.

“We were pretty limited with what we were able to change,” Ratliff said.

There was no vote on the decision of the athletic logo.  All of the decision and designs were done over the summer, and a new logo needed to be painted on the gymnasium floor before the athletic seasons took off.

Other athletic logos are often more animated and caricature-like, Ratliff pointed out.

Ron Butcher, the head soccer coach, also shared his views on the new logo.

“The whole branding and logo process was until the very end basically between the Athletics Director and the powers that be above.  We only really saw the finished product.  We had a little bit of input, but not as much as I would have liked,” Butcher said.

Butcher has seen many logos come and go over the years in his career.  However as a coach, all of the decision making and input was left up to the college.

“Unfortunately many times in higher education we try to reinvent the wheel, so sometimes what’s working good we don’t stay with.  Whereas what we had was working pretty well.  I’ve been here a long time and so I’ve been involved in a lot of owl creations, but not this one,” Butcher said.

Butcher stated he felt the previous “fighting owl” was his favorite.

Both Butcher and Ratliff understand the college’s decision.  Butcher stated that there is a need for branding and brand recognition.

“Athletics like fighting and things that look tough, because kids want that on their sweatshirts and t-shirts.  But for general college needs like books and publications, they wanted a unified logo, and I do understand that,” Butcher said.

However, the branding process does not just involve a simple logo change.  Eve Alintuck, the director of marketing and communications, described the decision process as collaborative and long.  She stated that several NH artists were considered, and ultimately ended up with choosing Eric Wentworth.  Wentworth owns Winter Crow Studio, which specializes in logo and design illustration.

Maryann Lindberg, the vice president for advancement, stated that it became clear that the image of the KSC was too varied.

“Potential students, legislators, funders, had very different images of the college.  In some cases the images were very outdated and wrong,” Lindberg said.

Branding is a statement, telling the community what KSC is as an institution and what KSC represents.  A branding initiative is not simply a new owl and a new tagline, but rather a comprehensive set of messages and images that describes KSC.

The college is not going to simply destroy all remnants of the old logo or brand.  The new branding processes will be gradual; as old materials with the old logos and brands are used up, new materials will be supplied.

“We want to make sure funders, alumni, legislators, and the community knows that we are authentic in what we say.  The reason ‘Wisdom to make a difference’ has been frankly, wildly popular, is that it resonates back to ‘Enter to Learn, go Forth to Serve;’ it’s all about wisdom, experience, and serving the public good,” Lindberg said.


James Niedzinski can be contacted at jneidzinski@ksc.mailcruiser.com.


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