Developing an Identity

Logo of the Mid-Michigan Spartans

I recently had the privilege of working on the new identity for the Michigan State University Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan. The identity includes the creative elements (graphics, logos, fonts, colors, etc.) that support your brand (what your organization represents). Here is a peek at the process that the communications team used in developing the new brand identity.

Our first step was to evaluate our current brand with a SWOT analysis, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In our case, the old brand identity did not use the new MSU fonts or colors that Michigan State University uses. It was also dated in appearance according to current design trends. For example, the outline of Beaumont Tower, a significant landmark on our campus, is not a commonly used style any more. We also noted that we were inconsistent with the name of our club, sometimes going by “Michigan State University Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan,” sometimes “MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan,” sometimes “Mid-Michigan Spartans” (which evolved from our increased presence on social media), and occasionally “MSUACMM.” We noted that one of our strengths was our location – we are the only geographic MSU alumni club located in our university’s county.

Our next step was to look at what other alumni clubs were doing. We noted that many clubs used the shorter name of “geographic reference + Spartans,” which would correspond to our “Mid-Michigan Spartans” name. Most clubs also used the MSU helmet logo as a part of their club identity. We then looked at the MSU brand standards guide to see what elements were recommended to be included in university-related branding efforts.

After all this, our list of brand identity “needs” was developed, and brainstorming sessions led to our first concept. We developed this version with several iterations to show how it could be used, and included mock-ups of potential Facebook pages and letterhead designs. The problem was, none of our mock-ups included the upper peninsula. Oops! Our final version fixed that, and we’re very happy with how it turned out.

It’s More Than Just Art

For our final steps, we made sure everything was legal. We had the final version of the logo approved by the Michigan State University trademark office and the MSU Communications and Brand Standards office to be sure we weren’t infringing on any existing policies. We submitted legal paperwork so that we could officially be referred to as the “Mid-Michigan Spartans.” These are very important steps to do before launching your brand. You don’t want to have to make changes later, or worse – face legal consequences! Once everything was approved, we applied the brand to our website and social media pages, created letterhead and transferred existing forms to the new template, and publicly launched the new identity.

This slideshow reveals some of the research that was done, and the early and final stages of the new identity.