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Educating a Masterbrand

Many schools, one mission

Founded in 1919 as The New School for Social Research, The New School champions the pursuit of intellectual liberalism and artistic excellence. Cultural icons such as Jack Kerouac, Marlon Brando and Tennessee Williams have developed their talents under a distinguished faculty featuring renowned intellectuals such as Erich Fromm, Claude Levi-Strauss and Hannah Arendt.

To unify the university's eight separate colleges under a common brand, the name of the institution had been shortened to New School University. However, many of the colleges—such as Parsons, Mannes and The Actors' Studio—still boasted distinct cultural identities entirely independent of the "New School" banner. There was little sense of a collective whole.

The New School wanted to consolidate and enhance its identity in a way that did justice to its illustrious colleges, but also immediately differentiated the whole from other universities.

Listening to the audience

Siegel+Gale began with an extensive research process that tracked the attitudes of The New School's students, faculty and alumni over two years. Across all the colleges, we discovered unifying themes of challenging convention, working for meaningful change, possessing an eclectic nature and embracing integration into the urban environment.

With these ideas in mind, we developed a brand positioning and brand architecture that unifies the colleges while respecting their unique personalities. We celebrated the dual nature of the institution by combining "The New School"—the colloquial shorthand for the university—in brightly colored, urban-inspired graffiti lettering, with the names of the individual colleges set in standard boldface. This unexpected juxtaposition suggests a progressive mix of flash and class that is quintessentially New York City.

Breathing new life into The New School

The new look instantly set The New School apart from every other university in the country, and unified all the colleges into a single, powerful brand. Two years after The New School unveiled its rebranding plan, the results were unequivocal: the endowment increased 17%, applications were up 18%, SAT scores of matriculating freshmen rose 10% and the student acceptance rate soared by 25%.

According to Bob Kerrey, president of The New School: "One of my greatest accomplishments at The New School was melding the university into a cohesive brand."

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