One of the many issues created for both internal and external constituencies during the process of the consolidation of two universities into one surrounds the positioning, or branding, of the new, consolidated university. The formation of a new university presents an opportunity to create a unique position in the marketplace that can redefine who and what we are, as an institution, for years to come.
Georgia Regents University, which we commonly brand as Georgia Regents University Augusta or GRU Augusta, is a new university with recognized distinction in the health sciences, a wide variety of quality educational programs in the liberal arts, humanities, sciences and mathematics, business and education, and a passionate commitment to being true innovators in education.
Our faculty, staff, students, volunteers and alumni will shape this new university ─ a university that embraces intellectual diversity and upholds an environment with unity and collaboration at its core. One that unites teaching AND practice, art AND application, humanity AND health sciences. A university community in multiple locations across the state that thrives on compassionate care AND critical thinking.
And while we have respect for our history, we have a healthy urgency for a better future, to put our university and its educational, research, and clinical expertise on the national and global map. We aspire to excellence in all facets of higher education, health sciences, research and patient care, and we’re excited to take part in creating the next great American university.
Our vision is to effect positive social change through five critical attributes we believe describe who and what we are, and which form the circumference of the university’s seal:
- Education – We offer a variety of academic programs and student services, drawing upon traditional fields with novel areas of intellectual activity, preparing students to be thoughtful and well-rounded citizens in the new global economy.
- Health – As an integrated academic health center we tackle the most pressing health issues of our time and are an exemplar of modern healthcare both in Georgia and around the world.
- Creativity – We push the boundaries of arts and sciences, challenge the conventional and find new ways to add to the richness of human fabric.
- Innovation – We aim to identify new ways of addressing new and old problems through our educational practices, co-curricular experiences and labs.
- Discovery – We look to create new knowledge and technologies focused on improving our lives and our planet through our research in and outside of the lab, clinic and classrooms, on campus, and around the world.
At the heart of our mission is a profound and unerring belief that the greatness in all of us lies in discovery. Discovering opportunities in ourselves, our classrooms, our athletic fields, our communities, and in how we are uniquely positioned to serve the world.
We are articulating a very clear vision with a specific plan of getting there, focused and optimistic, limiting the “we will do this” concepts, with more “we are this.” We really care about students and providing a practical education, including “real world” application and experience. We really care about patients and providing a patient- and family-centered environment that fosters healthy outcomes. We are philanthropic and community involved – with school spirit and pride as the “Jaguar Nation.”
By Oxford English Dictionary definition, brand is “the impression of a product in the minds of potential users or consumers.” Our process of clarifying a unified university and health system brand and value proposition was based on a synthesis of primary and secondary research that took into consideration market realities and other external brand influences. We considered the unique experiential attributes of our institutions and the functional and emotional benefits that drive stakeholder loyalty and behavior.
We want our brand to tell a story. A story of two universities and cultures coming together ─ a story of who we are as students, faculty, staff and alumni. A new kind of student-centered university. One that is based on unity, balance and collaboration.
Our efforts to identify and build a sustainable and differentiating brand position (one that is distinct from common health sciences and undergraduate university themes and tag lines) were driven by our goals to:
- Establish a unique, compelling and differentiated position through the development of consistent messages and guidelines.
- Create visual representation of the new consolidated university that will form the foundation for our communications.
- Communicate and promote our brand value to internal and external audiences consistently and comprehensively.
- Build on and directly reflect the university and clinical enterprise’s mission, vision and values.
The GRU logo is the face and signature of the brand and features a customized ligature creating a future-looking font and feel, and also features the word Augusta in the original Augusta State University font. The seal includes our founding date and incorporates legacy icons representing both Augusta State University (ASU) and Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) and a new icon, the unity flame.
Historians from both ASU and GHSU were involved in the discussions about what date to use on the seal. ASU was chartered as the Junior College of Augusta in 1925. While the Academy of Richmond County (ARC) had from time to time offered a freshman level curriculum, it was not officially a college. In ASU histories, 1925 is used as the founding date and it is often stated that ASU has roots in ARC. GHSU dates back to an original founding date of 1828 as the Medical Academy of Georgia, which was renamed the Medical Institute of Georgia one year later and in 1833 became the Medical College of Georgia.
We created customized, original artwork, and the unity flame, used in our seal, is based on the Pikorua, a Maori symbol representing the infinite partnership and eternal bond between two entities. It is inspired by the symbols of life and growth. The flame/torch is also a common symbol of both enlightenment and hope, the power of spirit, knowledge and science.
The official primary color options selected by our university community create pride, cohesiveness and recognition. The blue is from the ASU color palette and symbolizes trust, dignity, intelligence and authority. The complement silver gray color adds the symbolism of security, reliability and maturity. We engaged our university community in selecting the visual identity attributes that represent their university.
Athletics is a vital and highly visible aspect of the university’s brand identity. Working with our branding agency and Athletics Department leadership, we created athletics marks and logos that consistently, cohesively and distinctly represent the Jaguars athletics program, including all men’s and women’s teams. The classic, enduring and iconic marks use the official primary colors of the university and maintain the integrity of the typeface historically used in the ASU font for the words, “GRU,” “Augusta” and “Jaguars.” The athletics marks will be translated into sport specific marks and used in practical applications ranging from marketing and collateral material to uniforms and on playing surfaces and scoreboards.
Our faculty members, staff, students and volunteers deliver the GRU and GRHealth brand on a daily basis in Augusta and throughout the state. Individually and collectively, they represent the vision and the values of what the entire enterprise stands for. Their daily actions and attitudes form the reputation that differentiates us from other universities and academic health systems.
Our published Georgia Regents University & Health System Brand Guidelines delineates the aspects of our communications and marketing standards, as well as how we desire to use everything from typefaces to give our brand a personality and create unity, photography and videography to create powerful first impressions, editorial guidelines to create tone, impact and voice consistency, and effective web and e-communications that incorporate user centric design, strong content, usability, accessibility and a freshness that creates brand consistency and advocacy.
Together we are beginning a journey to take ownership for what we are now and what we want to be… a university for the future. What is the right metaphor to describe who we are and what we are? Discover what’s next.™ This signature line frames the uniqueness of who we are and is how we want to project ourselves and be perceived by those who come in contact with us, experience us and talk about us. Our faculty and researchers are discovering what is next in our laboratories, our students are discovering what is next in their professional and personal lives, our patient care providers are discovering what is next in patient- and family-centered care. To demonstrate our commitment to our brand, we have created a “brand essence” video that describes what we believe in. I invite you to watch this video and join us as we discover what’s next.