College and university taglines have some of the same problems I pointed out for municipality taglines. They may sound good but most are not compelling and almost all of them fail to differentiate. A university tagline should answer these questions: Why should I go here? What makes this place unique?
In my survey of hundreds of university taglines, I noticed that these words were very frequently used: leader(s), leadership, knowledge, truth, better, higher, learning, life, living, career, work(s), start, tomorrow(s), future(s). These are all admirable words, however if dozens of institutions are using them, how differentiating are they?
Here are a few taglines that are used verbatim by multiple colleges and universities:
- Higher Education Begins Here
- Tomorrow Starts Here
- The place to be
- Start Here. Go Anywhere.
- A tradition of leadership
- Education that Works
So, here is my list of the good, the bad and the ugly:
Good (succinct or well written, communicates a unique benefit):
- Liberty University: Training Champions for Christ Since 1971
- Naropa University: Transform Yourself. Transform the World.
- Paul Smith’s College: The College of the Adirondacks
- Reformed Theological Seminary: A mind for truth. A heart for God.
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: why not change the world?
Good (works because of Caltech's strong reputation):
- California Institute of Technology: There’s Only One. Caltech.
- Hampshire College: Ideas into Action
Interesting (begs inquiry):
- Dartmouth College: Vox clamantis in deserto (The voice crying in the wilderness)
- Notre Dame University: Fighting to Explore Our Universe
Differentiating but not succinct/elegant:
- Green Mountain College: Vermont's Environmental Liberal Arts College
- Hamilton College: A Liberal Arts College Focused on Writing, Research and Speaking
- North Georgia Technical College: Living and Learning in the Mountains
Just too long:
- Oberlin: Think one person can change the world? So do we. / OBERLIN Learn. Make a difference.
Sounds good but really?
- Oregon Institute of Technology: Different. Better.
- Saginaw Valley State University: Something More. Something Better.
- Baker College: You’ll Do Better With Baker!!
- California State University – Sacramento: Leadership Begins Here
Sounds good but what does it mean? (inane/vacuous):
- Angelo State University: Touching Tomorrow
- Chaparral State University: Making good things happen
- Eastern Oklahoma State College: Your Tomorrow Begins Today
- Grand Canyon University: don’t miss a day of YOUR FUTURE
- Mills College: One Destination, Many Roads.
- University of Mary Hardin-Baylor: UMHB for Life!
- University of West Alabama: Your Future. Your Life. Your University.
- Wells College: The education of an extraordinary life…
- New Mexico State University at Carlsbad: Building Brighter Futures Together
I hope so:
- Erie Community College: You’ll Love Learning Here
- Faber College: Knowledge is Good
In summary, here is what one must strive for in a tagline: