After investigating the reception of Linfield’s new brand, President Thomas Hellie elected to abandon the proposed tagline “The Power of Small.” The college’s branding theme, “The Power of a Small College,” remains unchanged.
The theme itself was positively received, although the tagline was so reviled by some that one student, junior Craig Geffe, presented an alternate slogan to the Associated Students of Linfield College Senate meeting May 3 (“Student proposes alternate slogan for Linfield’s brand,” TLR, May 6).
Hellie said that Linfield will still brand itself with an emphasis on the small size of the student body and campus.
He said he discovered that other colleges were using perception research to create brands and made themselves more recognizable. He
decided 18 months ago to do the same for Linfield College.
“When I would talk to people about the college, they would say ‘Oh, that’s that Baptist School,’” Hellie said. “They wouldn’t know where we were or that we were a small college.”
Dean of Enrollment Services Dan Preston was one of the leaders of the rebranding program. He said that most of what the college learned, it already knew. However, he said the research was important.
“Unless you approach this process methodically and scientifically, what you have is anecdotal,” Hellie said. “I think one of the misconceptions that one of the focus groups discovered is that outsiders think our athletes to be too focused on athletics.”
Hellie said that he expected athletics to be the most important aspect in the responses, but the results surprised him. He said students were mostly focused on the size of the college.
“We asked people to prioritize what was most important to them,” he said. “It turns out, [the priority] was that Linfield was a small college.”
Hellie added that the uniqueness of the message was important to him.
“If you go to college websites, they’re all the same,” he said. “We’re preparing students for the future. We asked ourselves, ‘How can we stand out?’”
Hellie said that his research showed other small colleges were moving away from describing themselves as small.
“They’re afraid that peple are going to be put off because ‘everyone wants to go big,’” he said. “But we knew from the perception research that people liked Linfield because it was smal.”
Preston said he agreed with the branding and that Linfield should advertise the size of the college as a positive attribute.
“Small is coming back in a big way,” he said.
News editor Joshua Ensler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org