Case Western Reserve University by any other name does not smell as sweet

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 02/27/2007 - 02:07.

 

I just found on Case Management Professor Sandy Piderit's blog, concerning the branding of Case, AKA Case Western Reserve University, that acting President Eastwood has declared that "that Case Western Reserve University by any other name does not smell as sweet to many people". Several years ago the university hired an out of state identity firm to remake the brand, which included shortening the name to Case and adopting a new logo that is described as a fat man carrying a surfboard. They spent $ millions, including for new signage, letterhead and brochures, cards, and all the other identity stuff out there in the local and global community - a bigger thing than it seems at first. The response was from indifferent to hostile - especially about shortening the name, as many alumni went to Western Reserve and loved that brand. See below the relevant excerpt from President Eastwood's letter to alumni announcing that "The University's official self-identification program should acknowledge Western Reserve as an equal partner with Case and formally represent itself in the market as Case Western Reserve University." Also in the letter, "In the coming days, the university will form an implementation group which will be charged with developing and implementing a process for recreating and adapting the university's graphic identity guidelines at minimal cost."

Report of the Brand Task Group

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Wm. Shakespeare

What Mr. Shakespeare did not anticipate was that Case Western Reserve University by any other name does not smell as sweet to many people, some of whom no doubt are reading this letter now.

The Brand Task Group (BTG), formed last summer under the leadership of Trustees Tim Callahan and Ted Schroeder, provided its final report to the Board of Trustees February 23. The Board of Trustees reaffirmed "that there has been no change to the name of the University, which remains Case Western Reserve University" and ratified and supported the recommendations of the BTG. The key recommendation is that "The University's official self-identification program should acknowledge Western Reserve as an equal partner with Case and formally represent itself in the market as Case Western Reserve University." The BTG also recommended that "the University should revise or recreate a logo and graphic identity" but continue with branding guidelines that "sustain and reinforce a comprehensive, consistent and recognizable university identity."

In arriving at its recommendations, the BTG received input from alumni, students, staff, students, and others, with the assistance of the consulting firm Lipman Hearne. A summary of the alumni and campus surveys is available on the BTG webpage at http://www.case.edu/president/btg/

In the coming days, the university will form an implementation group which will be charged with developing and implementing a process for recreating and adapting the university's graphic identity guidelines at minimal cost.

 

Good thing Case recycles

Me and my alma mater are both in the process of a name change. For both of us the name change is a positive thing. But, As I am learning, name changes are also costly, time consuming and create waste.  As I lament the obsolescence of my monogramed aprons, monogramed cake and candy gift boxes and half full box of business cards,  at least I know that changing my "brand" will cost a lot less than $500,000.

In an online news story I read today $500, 000 was the estimate for Case Western Reserve University's gradual  transition back to the name "Case Western Reserve" from the unpopular "Case". That number does not strike me as being terribly high considering how many pieces of paper carry the logo. Its a good thing Case recycles. Unfortunately I can't seem to find this statement now, it seems to have mysteriously disappeared.

What CWRU didn't do

Case Western Reserve University apparently did not ask a spectrum of alumni about the Case name before they put it into place to the tune of millions of dollars. Nor is it apparent they realized early on a basic tenent of non-glitz in the academic world. According to the Plain Dealer "school seniors in a Chicago focus group astutely noted that a school's title does not confer status; it must be won through achievement."