For much of its history, Emory has clung proudly to its decentralized
nature. Graphically speaking, however, that tradition often resulted
in barely constrained chaos—a mish-mash of logos and wordmarks,
letterheads and signage, joined under a common umbrella in name
But five years ago the University launched a graphic identity program that sought
to pull together under a single set of graphic standards as much of the Emory
enterprise as possible, and the results are now apparent: The Emory wordmark—consisting
of the torch-and-trumpet shield supporting the word “Emory” colored
in Pantone 280 blue—is instantly recognizable. It is, for all intents and
purposes, Emory’s logo.
The University’s success in translating graphic form into graphic identity
earned the program recognition in a major industry trade journal, American Corporate
which in October will hail Emory’s program as
one of the best in the country. It may seem as though Emory’s graphic
identity has arrived, but for those charged with monitoring and implementing
the program, it is a constant struggle.
“This was a need I saw from the very beginning when I came to Emory; our
graphics were all over the place,” said Curt Carlson, vice president for
public affairs, who oversees the identity program. “In the main, I’m
very happy with the way it’s rolled out. I knew it would be a matter
of years, and really, an identity program like this never ends. As long as
the University keeps growing and changing, as long as new people come on board,
there always will be applications that need attention.”
The wordmark is only one aspect of the program. Another is the dictum that the
presidential seal (which before the identity program was used by many departments
across campus) is now used only in official communications from the Office of
Detailed in a website (www.emory.edu/identity), the identity program provides
a set of typefaces, colors, graphic elements and combinations of all elements
that allow for individual units (schools, centers, etc.) to establish a unique “look” while
still relating graphically to the overall University identity.
All forms of graphic communication—from signage to business cards, letterhead
to T-shirts—are expected to conform to these guidelines.
Behind all this effort is the goal of advancing the Emory “brand” in
the world, and capitalizing on recognition of Emory as a whole to promote each
individual unit; for example, Goizueta Business School as an entity is recognizable
to a certain worldwide audience, but Goizueta Business School of Emory University
is recognizable to a much larger audience, and so on.
For all its strictures, the identity program has not been written into University
policy; participation is strongly encouraged but ultimately voluntarily. Though
virtually all units of the University have come on board, there are still some
holdouts, and Carlson said that is perfectly understandable.
“When you start tampering with people’s letterhead or business cards
or logo, it’s a very personal thing, but it’s also very important,” he
said. “The reason is precisely because we do have so many units and so
many audiences, if we can get a handle on our graphics, we may be decentralized,
but at least we give the impression that we’re one institution.”
“There’s a fair amount of diplomacy involved,” said David McClurkin,
assistant director for University Publications, who works with campus units to
implement the identity program in their printed materials. “Probably the
trickiest thing is convincing people they can’t create a new logo for their
department. They should use an Emory identifier and derive strength from the
University’s increasingly recognizable graphic system.”
Degree-granting institutions and major centers are permitted to have their own
logo, which is exactly what some schools have done; Oxford College, for example,
has designed its own distinct shield that strongly reflects the University wordmark.
The identity program also allows for exceptions for entities with long-established
graphic trademarks; the logo for the Woodruff Health Sciences Center is one such
Finally, Carlson said, for certain entities, it is advantageous not to link themselves
as intimately to Emory as do others. He cited the Yerkes National Primate Research
Center, and another example is the Schwartz Center; both units have designed
shields that are unique yet still reminiscent of the Emory identity.
Responsible for creating those shields and other elements of the program is the
creative team of Malcolm Grear Design (based in Providence, R.I.) and Knapp Inc.
of Atlanta. Grear’s firm, which provides a range of graphic design services,
will be the named recipient of the award from American Corporate Identity,
but the honor is directed toward the company’s work with Emory.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done with Emory; when you design an
identity, you want something that’s memorable, unique and as timeless as
possible,” Grear said. “Emory’s not so different from a corporation—you
have to take advantage of every piece of promotion that comes out.”