The Olive Tree
In today’s changing world, it is not surprising to learn that library public relations is changing as well. Long insulated from the need to think in terms of marketing and branding, libraries are now faced with many of the same challenges as private sector enterprises.
Faced with the task of finding innovative ways to revitalize Fogler’s outreach efforts, the Library’s Marketing Committee decided to borrow directly from the private sector and to design a formal marketing campaign.
The goal of the campaign was to promote awareness of the library and to convey a message about the library. The campaign needed to be a visually arresting, transmutable design that remained distinct from other library branding. It needed to lend itself to multiple permutations.
Marketing campaigns as such are new to libraries. In preparing for this project, the marketing team considered several key questions: What role does branding play in mass communication? What importance does visual identity have to an institution or company? How can a visual campaign change people’s perceptions and/or alter behavior?
One of the key goals of the campaign was to counter the increasingly popular notion that Google is a surrogate for librarians. So, the group asked, what is the essence of patron/librarian interaction? From this question and its answer, the i3 campaign was born:
Research begins with a question.
Librarians bring professionalism and legitimacy to patron service.
= Inquiry + integrity
Inquiry, integrity, and insight are a process, not a product.
With the idea or concept in mind, we began an “i” letterform study. In short, letters are treated as shapes and arranged in patterns. In understanding how we arrived at the design, it is helpful to think of visual elements as having a language of their own. A simple visual question, which is friendlier, a circle or square? A more complex visual question is how to represent inquiry, integrity, and insight graphically.
Its overall shape suggests a triangle, the geometric object with the fewest straight lines. Visually, it signifies parsimony, strength, stability. It is multidimensional. The i’s are pointing along different axes, with its center providing a sense of orientation in space. It is dynamic. Letterforms force the eye to move about the design. It even has interesting negative space. It is monochromatic, the antithesis of Google. It is arresting. It is modular. Italicized i’s are smooth and have a human quality. You and the patron are “i”.
Designed to run during the fall 2005 semester, the campaign will include posters in academic departments and the Union, posters to include library users with the i3 branding, newspaper advertisements in the Maine Campus, highlighters, mouse pads, bookmarks, UMaine Today magazine, UMaine web site, banners at library entrances, Oakes room posters or table tents, and student orientation materials.
Marketing Committee members include: Gretchen Gfeller (Chair), Brad Finch, Jerry Lund, Lois Nase, Ben Proud, and Darylyne Provost.
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