All campus picnic Wednesday Aug. 29, 2018.

Our Brand, Story, and Messaging

Why Brand Matters

Grinnell College’s institutional character took root in rich Iowa soil in 1846 with a mission to serve students as a teaching and learning community that provides an education in the liberal arts through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas. Our mission has stayed true, and our character has grown, through every individual who has chosen to be a Grinnellian in the years since that founding.

How can we best share that story in a 21st-century world where communications norms and channels change daily? The answer: We must communicate about our College’s character in the most consistent and authentic ways possible.

Those efforts are now supported by a strategic positioning plan developed with input from engaged faculty, staff, trustees, and Grinnellians, present and past. This plan helps advance how we communicate the values and qualities that are hallmarks of Grinnellian character.

Each of us plays a role in creating and telling the Grinnell story. The guide you are reading was developed as a resource to help all of us better understand the power of truthful, compelling, consistent messages and imagery. That is how we can best tell the story of why the world needs more Grinnellians. Ultimately, that story will ensure we advance our core mission: to educate and serve our students.

What is a Brand? 

Our brand is more than a logo, a font, or a set of colors. It defines who we are, what we say, and how we act. It represents how we see ourselves as a college, and how we want other people to see and know us, too.

  • Students chat at the all campus picnic

    Our Goals

    We seek to tell a consistent, authentic story for Grinnell College: one that enhances reputation, shifts perceptions of the college, heightens pride and engagement, and elevates awareness of the college’s differentiators. More specifically, we want to broaden our appeal to attract best-fit students who will thrive in our Grinnellian community.

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    Our Brand's Foundation

    Our brand is how we express the essence of our College to our audiences. Before we do that, we need to have a consistent understanding of who we are. The elements within this guide set our foundation, serving as the starting point from which we build our brand.

Brand Strategy

Our strategy is made up of four key elements, which together serve as the foundation for our creative platform.

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    What we stand for

    Our positioning puts a stake in the ground, defining how we want to be thought of in the minds of our most important audiences.

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    What we say

    Our messaging organizes our key ideas into a story to ensure clear, compelling, and consistent communications.

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    Who we’re engaging

    By defining our key audiences, we can better target them with the right messaging.

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    How we look, feel, and sound

    Our personality captures our character traits and defines our brand tone.

Creative Platform

The visual elements of our brand exist along a spectrum — one that’s flexible enough to tell our myriad stories memorably and uniquely, but rigid enough to make any communication recognizable as Grinnell’s.


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    Our Visual Language

    As artists and designers, we know that first impressions matter. Our visual language—type, photos, graphic elements, and color—sets the tone for how people initially see Grinnell and how they recognize or remember us in the future. When these pieces work together well, they strengthen our overall brand and distinguish us from everyone else.

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