New brand launch spurs criticism

Linfield’s new brand logo. The logo emphasizes the college’s small class sizes, small student body and small campus. The acorn is from an oak tree, a symbol long associated with Linfield College. The new brand has draw some criticism from students.

The new Linfield College logo and brand were revealed April 20 in Ice Auditorium.
Bill Chiaravalle, founder and creative director of Brand Navigation, a central Oregon-based branding firm, presented a summary of the results of the branding project.
He unveiled the new tag line, “The power of small,” and the new logo, which is a maroon acorn with a leaf extending up and to the left. The acorn and leaf sit above the college’s name, which is in a serif font.
During a forum, which was held in the auditorium last month, recommendations for the new logo were showcased and critiqued by students, faculty and staff. The acorn sat above a horizon line at that stage.
The feedback given concerning this horizon line prompted its omission from the logo.
There was a leaf in the prototype, as well, but the size of the leaf shrunk to emphasizes the acorn, Chiaravalle said. The leaf is smoother and more refined, he said to the audience.
“It speaks to thriving and growing,” he said.
Chiaravalle explained the idea behind the acorn logo during the April presentation.
“The idea really is that there’s a heritage here at Linfield College,” he said. “You have this wonderful grove of oak trees — they’re very symbolic. It’s the idea of not throwing away your past. Why should you throw away this rich heritage? The acorn is a symbol of looking to a vibrant new future, new growth ahead, but connecting with the past.”
The overarching concept was to convey something small growing into something significant, Chiaravalle said. The symbol is memorable. He quoted an old English proverb: “Great oaks from little acorns grow.”
“When you think about it, an acorn makes the perfect visual representation for what we believe in, namely, transforming students into well-rounded, whole people,” he said. “It also fits nicely with our slogan, ‘The power of small.’”
Despite the audiance’s positive reception of his presentation, the student body’s perception of the new brand is the antithesis of the reaction in the auditorium.
“No one else is utilizing the idea of ‘the power of small,’” junior Taylor Avritt said. “My next question would be why aren’t other institutions utilizing that phrase? It seems as though it could scare off students just by the tag line itself. And as for the logo, the acorn doesn’t accurately represent the students, professors and staff that contribute to Linfield. We’re getting farther and farther away from the Old Oak tree.”
President Thomas Hellie explained the reason the college pursued and invested in the project.
The objective was to clarify, enhance and communicate our public identity in a crowded marketplace, he said onstage.
“We need to make the case for our college in a public way,” Hellie said. “We also need to make sure that we’re competing and communicating more broadly in the other marketplaces.”
Implementation of the college’s new image is set to begin in June of this year. At that time, or sooner, Hellie said, the updated version of the Linfield Wildcat mascot will make its debut.
The college’s identity will be introduced to external audiences in Linfield Magazine and E-Cat, the college’s electronic newsletter, he said.
An online form will also be available for ordering letterheads and business cards beginning in June.
Some integrated marketing funds are earmarked to pay for the initial order of business cards this year, a subsidy that Hellie said will ensure that the entire college transitions to the new logo.
Chiaravalle’s presentation is available on Catfiles at for viewing.
After typing in your Catnet username and password, you will have access to a folder that contains a downloadable file titled Linfield_Launch”4”20.pdf.
Jodi Kilcup, assistant vice president of college relations, said that the file would be updated with additional resources as the implementation process continues.
Septembre Russell
Copy chief Septembre Russell can be reached at

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