Core Messaging

The Office of University Communications tells the stories of the people, programs and projects that make Wesleyan University a world-class liberal arts institution. We are responsible for using a strong, cohesive voice—in style and in substance—to share those authentic stories to promote Wesleyan’s mission of “boldness, rigor and practical idealism.” That voice resonates in everything we do.

Our Core Messaging goal:

  • Build on our substantial strengths and share that information more effectively with our audiences,
  • Tell the authentic stories of Wesleyan in a compelling way,
  • Advance Wesleyan’s position as both a leader and innovator in the field of liberal arts education,
  • Demonstrate Wesleyan’s outsized impact in the world, and
  • Further define Wesleyan’s educational mission and audience to plan a path to our future.

Our new Editorial Style Guide describes our core messaging language and serves as a quick reference to writing style questions frequently encountered at Wesleyan. The updated and refined Visual Style Guide includes all of the Wesleyan marks and icons, which embrace Wesleyan's strong history and traditions while providing consistency and modernization to meet the needs of a digital and mobile-viewing world. 

We solicited input and comments from stakeholders from across the University and beyond to create messages in a voice that resonates in everything we do, and in everything we are. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and parents: Together, we are Wesleyan.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why go through a core messaging process?

    One of the pillars of the Beyond 2020 strategic plan is to "Enhance Recognition of Wesleyan as an Extraordinary Institution." We're fortunate to be starting from a position of strength, with applications at a record high. But we also know we could do more to proactively differentiate ourselves in an ever more crowded marketplace, where Wesleyan is still sometimes confused with the 18 other Wesleyans around the country. The language we've been using to talk about Wesleyan hadn't been updated in some time. It needed to be refreshed to more effectively communicate what is so special about a Wesleyan education, based on the real experiences of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. This project allows us to communicate authentically about the value of a Wesleyan education to all our various audiences.

  • What did you learn in all those interviews?
    We asked thousands of community members what stands out to them about Wesleyan. Several themes consistently emerged in their answers:
    • Our commitment to an open curriculum and thinking in multiple dimensions
    • Our willingness to share and steward knowledge
    • The way we prepare students to be leaders in a world defined by constant change
    • Faculty-student relationships that are reciprocal and mutually beneficial
    • Our willingness to learn from one another and hear out different points of view
    • Our students and alumni share common characteristics, including inspiring originality, empathy, and intelligence that is both playful and highly rigorous
  • How did those findings coalesce?

    We are a school that understands that there is no progress without bravery. Whether you're a student raising your hand to join the debate, an artist unveiling a piece, a scientist proposing a theory, it's your countless acts of courage that relentlessly move the human race forward. Wesleyan is a place that identifies, attracts, inspires, and nurtures that kind of bravery. 

    Our updated identity is an exciting, accurate representation of who we are and where we’re headed. We’re proud of our accomplishments over our first 187 years and are now approaching our bicentennial with an ingrained and deeply valued identity and determination.

  • What are the visual identity changes exactly?
    You'll start to notice new messaging and marks, refreshed colors and fonts, and other imagery in a variety of places—on the Wesleyan website, in admission materials for the class of 2023, and on stationery and business cards, brochures, and other materials. For a look at the new marks, go to the Visual Style Guide.
  • How were these changes decided upon? What went into the process?

    We engaged a firm that works with nonprofits and higher education institutions, Lipman Hearne, to do in-depth research on what makes Wesleyan special. They conducted in-person interviews as well as surveys and focus groups of thousands of current students, parents, faculty, and staff; prospective students and parents; and alumni. From there, they developed a set of core messages that authentically reflect Wesleyan. The messages were then tested, validated, and adjusted where necessary. We next partnered with a creative firm, NAIL, which took the Lipman Hearne research and brought it to life. As part of NAIL’s work, they designed a new set of logos, marks, seals, admission materials, and other content, which you will begin seeing this fall. The creative items were tested with the various constituents throughout the process.

  • The old Cardinal was popular; why change it?
    We are introducing an updated visual identity system that sets the direction for Wesleyan Athletics for years to come, with all 30 of Wesleyan's intercollegiate sports teams showcasing consistent colors, visuals, lettering and numerals. The old Cardinal was not an original drawing for Wesleyan, but rather was adapted from other sports teams.  The new marks will set the Cardinals apart, celebrating the pride and rich tradition of Wesleyan academics and athletics, while serving as a contemporary representation of the Cardinals' style of play.
  • Who was involved in designing the new Cardinal?
    The entire process of determining the new direction for Wesleyan's overall visual identity was done in consultation with faculty, staff, students, and alumni.  University Communications worked hand-in-hand with coaching staff to refine the new Cardinal.
  • What is the "spirit mark" and how can it be used?
    The spirit mark, the Cardinal head on its own, is a new mark being introduced for use by the whole University.  It was clear over the years that faculty, staff, and students were eager to use the Cardinal in non-athletics circumstances - such as on t-shirts, banners and University vehicles - so this mark allows the Cardinal to be embraced by the entire Wes community while giving Athletics its own unique mark.
  • How does this tie into the University's new visual identity?
    The new Athletics wordmark uses the University fonts - Copernicus and Replica - as a basis for its custom lock-up of "Wesleyan Cardinals." "Wesleyan" is featured in Copernicus, to keep with the academic tradition of the University, while "Cardinals" is customized with elements of the Replica font. We've extended and angled the horizontal lines in the 'A' and 'R' to impart a feeling of forward motion and activity.  In keeping with tradition, our color palette is very close to our original colors, but has been refined to ensure that colors are consistent across all of our channels (print, digital, etc.)