Winthrop University: University Communications and Marketing - Project Summary
Contact Information
Communications & Marketing
200 Tillman Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2236
803/328-4002 (fax)

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Rebranding Project Summary

The rebranding initiative focused on three key pieces — starting with brand perception research, followed by the development and rollout of refocused brand messaging and visual identity, and a complete redesign of our university website.

Research

During the research phase, a variety of methods were used to understand how Winthrop is currently perceived in the higher education landscape, with feedback from a number of internal and external audiences, including:

  • Current Students
  • Prospective Students & Parents
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Alumni
  • Donors
  • Board Members
  • Community Leaders

The Findings

The feedback we received affirmed much of what we already knew about Winthrop — that we are a family. Winthrop is a place that feels like home — where students are welcomed, supported, cared for, and accepted. Winthrop is a student-centered community of learners that challenges students with national caliber academics and personal attention from world-class faculty.

Prospective students consistently commented that when making a decision about college, top influencing factors include a sense of community, whether they feel at home, ethnic diversity, the faculty, and student life. We knew these would be important things to focus on in our messaging.

"I am looking to just feel at home, like having it as a second home. And like everyone else has been saying, making it feel like a community, so you know that you are around people who are going to help you out." ~ prospective student focus group participant

"Anyone and everyone can find their place at Winthrop." ~ current student survey respondent

Winthrop consistently ranked highest among competitors in areas of personal attention from faculty, small class sizes, diversity, and a welcoming and friendly atmosphere on campus.

What I Like About Winthrop Charts

"We genuinely KNOW our students. We know their stories — where they came from, what they are interested in, their academic ambitions, their future goals. We listen to them on hard days and celebrate with them in their successes. We have relationships with our students at Winthrop that are UNIQUE and not happening other places" ~ Faculty/staff survey respondent

"Family-focused university in that you feel like you are a part of the Winthrop family. We hear that from our students. I hear it from the folks that work there and those in the community that are involved at the university." ~ Board member/donor interview respondent

Messaging & Visual Identity

From our research findings, we knew it would be important moving forward to focus on the community aspect of Winthrop — in a setting dedicated to the highest standards of learning, our Winthrop family welcomes and embraces new faces into the fold, accepted and supported by both their peers and faculty/staff mentors.

We then turned our attention to refreshing our visual identity — specifically our official Winthrop logo. After months of the creative process and user testing with over 110 participants, we arrived at our new logo:

New 2018 Logos

On February 22, 2018, an event was held to unveil the new logo and kickoff a phased rollout across campus.  

The new symbol features a bold yet elegant eagle, representing our school mascot and inspired by the golden Winthrop Eagle statue that stands at the front of campus, backed by the shield found within our official university seal. Through our user testing, we heard consistently that there is still a strong affinity for our custom Winthrop wordmark and that it represents our university well, so we maintained this element within the new logo. The word "University" increased in size with a slight font change to address some usability issues with the web and small format printing, as well as enhance the importance of the word itself in the mark. The colors, while darker and bolder, reflect our historic garnet and gold.

The clock tower logo and the WU mark have been retired to our collection of vintage marks.

Website Redesign

As part of the rebranding, we redesigned and made responsive our university website, www.winthrop.edu. We completed user testing on our new design, and development began on the interior pages of the site.  Not only is the new look and feel of the site dramatically different, the site architecture and navigation were revamped to enhance usability for all visitors to the site.

In addition to a new design, we also converted our site to a new Content Management System, Omni Update, which has allowed our site to be responsive to various devices and browser types, vastly improving the user experience.

The new site went live on May 31, 2019.

Last Updated: 7/9/20