ACUI Advances Association with New Brand
On March 14, ACUI launched a new brand. The launch day was the culmination of nearly two years of work by volunteers and staff to ensure that this new identity would represent the Association well.
"The Future of the Brand Task Force had an important assignment," said ACUI CEO John Taylor. "I am impressed by the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the work done. The end result is a new brand that connects strongly with ACUI's values and who we want to be."
Through its work, the Future of the Brand Task Force assessed the current brand, discovered attributes of the desired future brand, and created an identity for ACUI. The sidebar on the next page provides a detailed look at the work done since July 2015.
What is ACUI's Brand?
A brand is more than the logo and tagline. While those are the most visually prominent aspects, a brand references "who" an organization is, including who it serves, what it values, and what its personality is.
Early on in the process, the Future of the Brand Task Force identified who ACUI primarily serves: professionals working in the college unions and student activities field. And ACUI's core values (unconditional human worth, joy, learning, caring community, innovation, diversity, and integrity) were already an intrinsic part of its existence.
The big question mark was about ACUI's personality. How did members describe ACUI? How did belonging to ACUI make them feel? How did they see the Association? These question were answered through surveys and interviews that determined desired brand attributes:
The task force fully embraced these attributes, letting the concepts guide the development of the final brand. This is who ACUI was to members; so this is who ACUI should embrace being.
We are a community.
What is ACUI's No. 1 member benefit? The networking opportunities available. ACUI provides a community for its members—a place where they can connect with someone who does a similar job, has similar aspirations or interests, or fits into a similar demographic.
We are innovative.
Through ACUI, members can find out the about the latest trends, technology, and best practices, whether by reading a Bulletin article or attending an educational session. Relationships with corporate partners also allow ACUI to provide access to the newest products available to help members do their jobs better.
We are inclusive.
It doesn't matter what specific role an individual plays within the union and activities realm—or even on campus. ACUI can be a professional home for all those who desire to build community on campus, from a student working a few hours a week at the information desk to the vice president who oversees all student affairs operations.
We are leading.
Not only does ACUI desire to be the professional association of choice for those working with the college unions and student activities field, but also the Association develops future leaders within the profession and beyond through its signature leadership programs and volunteer opportunities.
We are welcoming.
When asked to describe ACUI, many members desired a word that could communicate the feeling of the "ACUI hug." ACUI members, volunteers, and staff are dedicated to ensuring the Association provides a welcoming environment to all those who wish to belong.
We are collaborative.
ACUI members enjoy learning from one another. The Association provides ample opportunities for collaboration, including communities of practice, volunteering, virtual roundtables, and networking sessions during in-person events.
Bringing the Brand to Life
The goal of the logo and tagline are to be a visual and contextual representation of the brand. When taken together, these concepts convey ACUI's complete brand identity, each part touching on different brand attributes.
ACUI (Word Mark)
An initial recommendation of the task force was to leverage the strength of the acronym. The full name of the Association was maintained; however, it will not be represented within the logo. The acronym has been adopted widely and is more often used than the formal name.
The Museo font family was designed to be friendly and easy to read. ACUI's use of this font combines the bold, eye-catching Museo Slab (ACUI) with the lighter, more approachable Museo Sans (tagline) to create the logo's typography. The font choice identifies ACUI as welcoming and leading. And its readability at any size helps ensure the logo is inclusive of all who may see it.
Purple was introduced as part of ACUI's previous logo, created in 1995. Survey results indicated that while there may not have been a particular attachment to the logo, purple resonated with many as representing ACUI; it was desired that new logo to retain this color scheme.
When considering the concepts that purple represents (i.e., prestigious, creative, visionary), a distinct connection to two brand attributes can be made: innovative and leading.
Meandros (Logo Mark)
The Meandros was the most important symbol in Ancient Greece. One concept represented by the Meandros is unity, which connects strongly to ACUI's brand attribute "community." Both represent the coming together of more than one entity. Abstractly, ACUI's take on the Meandros can be seen as two hands joining, the larger symbolism of which touches on even more attributes—welcoming, collaborative, and inclusive.
While "Advancing Campus Community" was not a concept presented at focus groups, individual aspects of the phrase were included in other options.
The term "advancing" immediately stood out to focus group participants. It gave the sensation of progress, innovation, and being a leader. Combining this with "campus community," which describes all those who are impacted by ACUI members' work, provides a concise, active description of what ACUI helps its members do.
The tagline represents each of the brand attributes through just three words. "Advancing" shows ACUI as being innovative and leading. "Campus" depicts ACUI as being inclusive and collaborative—even beyond union and activities departments. And "Community" connects to ACUI being welcoming and a community for its members.
With the new logo and tagline in place, the task force took time to consider the importance of consistency. Previous survey information showed that each ACUI program and service logo having its own visual identity caused brand confusion. The launch of a new logo was the perfect time to roll out new standards regarding sub-brand logos. The task force determined that to help ACUI's brand remain strong, all program and service logos would be standardized and retain aspects of the primary logo. The only exceptions are the annual conference and regional conferences.
Launching ACUI's New Identity
When the Future of the Brand Task Force presented the final brand recommendation to the Board of Trustees on Dec. 21, 2016, it was approved unanimously.
"This is an exciting time for the Association," said President J. Scott Derrick. "The task force's primary goal was to help ensure ACUI's brand could attract new and retain current members. To do this, we had to know who we are. And I think the task force hit it right on the mark."
A Brand Implementation Team was created within the Central Office to assist the task force in executing the new brand. With only a few months until the launch, team members worked to design new promotional items, order new apparel, work with an outside vendor to redesign the website, and more.
A key outcome of the rebranding process was the development of new, more in-depth branding guidelines. The guidelines and marketing processes put in place will be used by the Central Office staff and volunteers when creating any collateral related to ACUI events and services.
On March 14, ACUI officially launched its new brand, complete with a redesigned, mobile-friendly website. Throughout the day, information was shared about the brand, including a video explaining its foundation, trivia, and giveaways.
"I am thrilled with the outcome of the task force's work and glad I was able to be part of the team," said ACUI President-Elect and Future of the Brand Task Force Member Jeff Pelletier. "I can't wait to see this new brand help advance ACUI in the future."