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New ACG Identity System: Memo from President David G. Horner

To: ACG Community

Anyone familiar with institutional/educational logos, shields, seals etc. understands that changing such symbols inevitably provokes some discomfort and controversy. Typically, these feelings dissipate over time. The ACG community is currently experiencing and expressing this dynamic. As president of the College, my core responsibility is to move ACG forward. I hope this memo will help the ACG community process this change by clarifying both the issues and the process behind the change.

Why change? Institutional/educational logos, shields, seals etc. are tools of communication intended for both internal and external audiences. Ideally, they reflect an institution’s history, clarify an institution’s identity and point towards a promising future. This is a very “tall order”, especially in a rapidly changing global communication context, which is why educational institutions today, contrary to popular belief and former practice, rather frequently adjust their communication tools.

In ACG’s case, a series of independent marketing studies as well as consistent experience over the last several years made it abundantly clear that external audiences, both local and distant, lacked a clear understanding of ACG, its three divisions (Pierce, Deree, Alba) and the relationship of the three divisions to ACG and to each other. The evidence was compelling that this condition represented a major communication problem/opportunity, which ACG needed to address.

Process. In November 2014, the ACG Office of Integrated Marketing and Communication (IMC) commissioned one of Europe’s leading design and communication firms, Beetroot, to propose a solution. (The Beetroot design team included experienced professionals who are Deree alumni.) Over the past 14 months, initial designs were proposed, discussed, revised, and reviewed. The process was led by ACG Vice President, Marketing, Niki Boutari, a Pierce alumna with three decades’ experience as a leader in the Greek advertising/communication arena. Niki worked closely with Nikos Koumettis, a Deree alumnus and former Deree marketing faculty member for 11 years, who currently is President of the Central and Southern European Business Unit of Coca-Cola and chairs the Enrollment and Marketing Committee of the ACG board of trustees. (The logo proposal was discussed last spring and this fall by both the Enrollment and Marketing Committee and the full ACG board.) This fall, we solicited feedback on the proposed design as well as color options from 676 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community leaders.

New logo and logic in historical context. The previous ACG logos, seals etc. with which current students are familiar, have existed only since 2009. They were developed as ACG was launching its first major advertising campaign in the Athens market and needed to shift from a complex set of symbols (five different shields) that had evolved continuously between the late 1970s and early 2000s to a more coherent approach. Prior to the 1970s a different set of logos, seals etc. were used; in fact, even the College name changed multiple times between 1875 and the 1970s. The current logo incorporates several elements of ACG history, including: founding date (1875); circular wreath (the College’s earlier symbols were circular, not Anglo Saxon shields); the three current divisions: Pierce, Deree, Alba. The logic of the new logo is always to connect ACG to its three divisions, thereby clarifying ACG’s identity and promoting all three divisions even when one is highlighted (e.g. Pierce and Deree logos).

Expected adaptations. We expect adaptation over time will occur as the new logo is deployed in its multiple applications. The IMC staff will record feedback from campus constituents on applications that may require adjustment and will factor these considerations into their logo use guidelines going forward.

Pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, observed that change is the ultimate characteristic of reality. Change is never easy, but it is necessary for individuals and institutions to grow and to flourish. The current ACG logo change is made in that spirit, hope and confidence.

David G. Horner, PhD
The American College of Greece