Strategic Plan Update: Creating a Brand Identity for the Washington University Libraries

We’re happy to announce that we’ve fulfilled a number of objectives that were laid out in our Strategic Plan. Teams of staff members from across the Washington University Libraries have worked together to bring the objectives to fruition. We’ll be sharing updates on our progress in the weeks ahead.

Objective accomplished: Producing a cohesive system of library branding with flexible guidelines and templates to support a unified, vibrant identity across the Washington University Libraries.

When we developed our Strategic Plan in 2018–2019, visibility was identified as a key area of focus, with the goal of creating a brand for the University Libraries that would raise awareness of our services and facilitate greater connection with our users. In order to achieve that goal, we partnered with Almanac, a local marketing agency with expertise in brand development. Almanac worked with us to leverage stakeholder input from our strategic-planning process and conducted additional stakeholder research.

In fall 2019, we began to explore and refine the results of this undertaking. Key elements for the brand were identified, including the development of a “why” narrative for the University Libraries: Why are we here? Why should users turn to us for help? The answers to these questions were distilled into a set of unique attributes that center the University Libraries within the larger presence of Washington University.

New marketing tools—typography, photo assets, a color palette, and more—that aligned with the new brand were also developed, along with new messaging that communicates the University Libraries’ centrality to the university and its role as the heart of intellectual discovery on campus. The theme “Pursue What’s Possible” is part of that messaging—a succinct slogan that conveys what patrons can do at the University Libraries.

In spring 2020, the Communications & Events unit created materials featuring the new visual identity and refreshed social media channels, event promotions, email newsletters, and publications. An overhaul of our website reflecting the new brand is in the beginning stages. These new tools should strengthen our connections with users and ensure that they’re better aware of the ways in which we support teaching, learning, and research at Washington University and beyond.

The project involved communication between various sets of stakeholders: Almanac conducted three discovery sessions with all University Libraries staff, including a core team with members of the Communications & Special Events unit and the University Librarian Council. They also conducted interviews with other key stakeholders and leaders at the university.

Next Steps
• The Communications & Special Events unit will continue to create materials that adhere to the new standards/guidelines and develop tools and templates for staff as requested.

• The unit will create a plan for distributing new branded items to staff and patrons when the Washington University campus reopens.

• We’ll continue to explore new options for strengthening our identity and improving cohesion across the University Libraries’ disparate departments.

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