Western Gets a New Look

In the past year, a Western Carolina University Branding Project Board has been steady at work changing the current institutional and athletic logos that the University uses in printed material, media, athletics and other advertisements. Students have been watching as their campus slowly transforms buildings, roads and admissions processes all in an effort to boost the Western’s image. The latest transformation is the changing of the institutional and athletic logos. “The Branding Project is an effort to rethink how the University describes to faculty, staff, students, prospective students and alumni,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and board member Dr. Sam Miller said. According to Thomas Frazier, manager of Western’s Print Shop, this will be the first change Western has seen in its athletic and institutional logos since 1997. According to Miller, Western’s current logos have been displayed in many different aspects causing there to be a great amount of inconsistency in the image of Western. For example, logos that are used on building name signs are different from the logos that are represented on the printed material that Western sends out. “We are getting around to adopting a brand identity that is consistent and gets applied across the entire University community,” Miller said.According to Miller, current institutional logos that are being used include the mountainous image that is shown on building signs, the purple cat logo, known by some as the “Bat Wings,” which adorns business cards and other printed materials, and the school seal. The new logos that are set to be implemented will replace all of these logos except for the school seal. “Getting a consistent, professional look for the whole University is the main goal that the Branding Project is trying to accomplish by changing its logos,” Miller said. Possibly the most exciting change that is going to take place concerning Western’s logos, is the makeover of the current Catamount and the solidification of the school colors. “One of the goals is to standardize what colors we use and how we use the colors,” Miller said. Currently, Western’s colors seem to be represented by varying colors of purple, yellow and white. After the change, Western will be going “old school” and returning to its roots by going back to Western’s original school colors of dark purple and gold. By keeping with the dark purple and gold it will allow Western to gain more stability with its colors and image.”I think in a way it helps build more school spirit if we are more consistent in all those things,” Miller said when referring the changes taking place to the Catamount and the school colors.According to information received from Hunter Library special collections department, Western’s mascot, the Catamount, has been in place since 1931. Since that time, the Catamount has undergone around 15 changes, not to include the upcoming change. According to Frazier, the last two large changes that the Catamount received were in 1967 and most recently in 1997. The current Catamount that Western uses to promote athletics is what many have grown to call the “Huggy Cat.” Huggy Cat can be seen on the main page of Western’s Athletic home-page and on top of the Cullowhee Huddle House sign. Students and faculty have given Western’s current Catamount the name Huggy Cat. With a warm smile and outstretched arms, to many the Catamount looks ready to receive your affection instead of ripping you apart in athletic competition. According to Miler, members of the Branding Project board have been working with faculty, students, prospective students and alumni in trying to distinguish what type of image best represents Western Carolina University. These different groups responded to surveys that required them to answer specific questions related to Western’s atmosphere as a whole. Working with the Branding Project board in developing the new logos, Miller spoke on behalf of the company Stamats. Stamats is a National Higher Education Branding Company that works with Universities in the United States in formulating team logos and mascots. Stamats has worked with Universities such University of Kentucky and Arizona State. According to Miller, this will be the first time Western has used the company Stamats in developing its logos. Stamats operates by reviewing the surveys that the different groups filled out and then from those surveys they begin to formulate prospective logos for the University. According to Miller, the logos will continue to go through many changes before the school settles on one specific logo. Once Stamats formulates prospective logos, they are introduced to the Branding Project board as well as to three selected student groups. Of the three student groups there is a student leader’s group, a student athletes group and a small group of random students. These students are given the opportunity to view the prospective logos and give feedback as to whether or not they feel the prospective logos accurately represent Western. After hearing feedback from the student groups and members of the board, Stamats makes revisions to the logos in order to most effectively represent Western. This process will continue until the final decision on the logos is made. According to Miller, the decision as to which logos Western will be switching to should take place soon. The process of switching over, however, will not take place as quickly. Students can plan on seeing the new school colors and the new Catamount emerge by Fall Semester 2008 if all goes as planned. The Institutional logo on the other hand, will be an ongoing transitioning process that will slowly emerge as websites, building signs, and advertisements gradually switch to the new logo. “This is one of those projects that happens every so many years in the life of a University,” Miller said. “It may only happen once while a group of students are in school and it’s usually pretty exciting because it’s an effort to keep the school up to date and make everything look nicer.”