Wednesday, December 3, 2014

College and University Taglines

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

Animal House:
  • Faber College: Knowledge is Good

In summary, here is what one must strive for in a tagline:
  • Unique/differentiating
  • Compelling
  • Believable
  • Succinct/elegant


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