Ball State releases its new brand slogan

The Rebranding Ceremony took place on Nov. 6 in Sursa Performance Hall. Brynn Mechem, DN
The Rebranding Ceremony took place on Nov. 6 in Sursa Performance Hall. Brynn Mechem, DN

After months of research and planning, the university released its new brand slogan — We Fly. 

“This is an institution that has a great history, but has an even more promising future and so we feel that this is an institution that’s only beginning to take flight,” said President Geoffrey S. Mearns. 

The new brand, which cost the university around $930,000 according to university spokesperson Kathy Wolf, puts an added accentuation on Beneficence. The university chose the words “we fly” after researching many different slogans. 

“I think very quickly we gravitated toward those words and those visual images, one because they are distinctive, memorable. They also are consistent with our institutional aspiration,” Mearns said.  

“Then of course, it’s consistent with our two most prominent visual images — the cardinal and Beneficence. So, when we started to look at it all pieced together, both verbally and visually, it just resonated with all of us.”

‘We Fly’ replaces the Jo Ann Gora era slogan, “Education Redefined.” Banners and signs including the new slogan have been placed across campus and the new Benny logo appears on the university website. 

The research combined both qualitative and quantitative data collected from thousands of students, faculty, staff and the general public about what they believe is distinctive about Ball State. The key messages found were:

· Immersive learning opportunities

· The university’s community-based approach to education

· Empowerment

· The Beneficence Pledge 

The university unveiled the new brand at a ceremony Monday and since then, it has received a lot of positive attention from the Ball State community. 

“I think it was pretty good, it's been a while since we've had a good brand, or any brand at that,” said Andres Nieto, a senior urban planning and development major. “I'm excited to see President Mearns bring some passion back to this place. He's a pretty good guy so I'm looking forward to this year.”

“I feel like they are taking more of a youthful and fun approach because it used to be ‘Education Redefined’ and it used to be very serious,” said Erika Espinoza, an emerging media design and development graduate student. “But now, it's more bold and youthful.”

While some students were excited about the change, many took to Twitter or had group discussions in their classes to express their grievances about the new brand. 

“When I talked to the students, I hated the fact that I heard in three different classes students bringing up the idea of it kind of has a drug reference. You know, we fly high,” said Rich Swingley, a digital audio instructor. “Here we are in Muncie, the meth capital of the world, basically, and we’re saying we fly? That kind of worries me because I heard that repeatedly.”

Another thing that Swingley said bothered him was the lack of student involvement in the new campaign. 

“They hired a company out of Washington, which I get. But, why wasn’t the company mandated to work with our students? We always talk about immersive, immersive, immersive —  but really, did you let our students work at all on this new campaign,” Swingley said.

“If you’re talking about $930,000 and you go to a company, I don’t care how big they are. You tell them, ‘Hey, in this case, you’re going to have to work with some of our students. You’re going to have to get them involved in the situation.’ …  That would’ve been absolute winner. It would've mattered what the words were at that point. Anytime students are involved, that’s a win.” 

Swingley said the one thing all of his students seemed to like was the new Benny logo and the appearance it brings to items like university documents, webpages and productions. 

“Frankly, there really was no other alternative,” Mearns said. “She is a beautiful symbol of our proud past. Beneficence is a prominent visual reminder that in the future, some things won’t change. We will retain our commitment to the enduring things represented by our beloved icon. Those values include a commitment to excellence, integrality, social responsibility, respect for all people, and yes, gratitude.” 

In an effort to focus on the future, the university switched up Benny’s look by extending her community-welcoming hand and her wings past her shield, which Mearns says is to show that “with Beneficence as our guide, we fly.” 

“We want everyone to know, not just here in Indiana and not just across the country, but truly around the world, to know that Ball State is the best option for students who want an exceptional education that prepares them to have a successful career and lead meaningful lives,” Mearns said. 

Mearns says the university plans to begin marketing through TV and radio ads throughout November. After that, the ads will appear in key markets around the nation. 

Contact Brynn Mechem with comments at or on Twitter at @BrynnMechem.


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