East Carolina University’s nationally recognized work impressed Cecil Staton as he pursued the chancellor’s job there. It also made him wonder why the university is not better known, even within North Carolina.
So after Staton was named chancellor in June 2016, he recommended updating the university’s brand – reworking its logos, signage and website – to bring it up to par with other prominent universities. The school recently announced plans to boost its identity, including a push to become known as ECU instead of East Carolina.
“There’s some amount of frustration that people west of I-95 don’t know that ECU enrollment is close to 30,000 students, with faculty and several colleges gaining national attention for their work,” ECU spokesman Tom Eppes said in an emailed statement.
Eppes, the former chief communications officer at Ole Miss, was hired to the same position at ECU in June to “lead a team of marketing and communications professionals focused on increasing awareness of the university’s national leadership in academics, research and service.”
The university has plenty of academic bragging points. It leads the state in business majors and in producing educators. It also graduates more nurses and health care workers than any other four-year college in North Carolina.
It is also home to the Brody School of Medicine, known for its research, for producing doctors who stay in North Carolina and for its affordability.
Communicating the university’s stature was complicated by branding that promoted “East Carolina University” while a majority of people seemed to refer to the school as “ECU,” Eppes said.
“A study of branding by other national universities followed a survey of faculty, staff, alumni and students, as well as focus groups and discussions generated through social media, to determine whether there was support for a change in graphics and in the way the university was commonly described,” Eppes said.
The new logo features “ECU” next to a more detailed version of the university’s iconic cupola than what was included on the old graphic. For marketing purposes, the logo will include the text “Capture Your Horizon.”
The university plans to launch a redesigned website in September. It also plans to use its new look in commercials that will air during football games this fall and other TV programming.
“The goal is to ensure North Carolinians, from the mountains to the coast, know that ECU has become one of the state’s great national universities,” Eppes said.