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The George Washington University Unveils New Visual Identity

August 26, 2012

202-994-3566; [email protected]
Michelle Sherrard
202-994-1423; [email protected]

WASHINGTON— The George Washington University revealed its new visual identity on August 26, after two years of research, university-wide collaboration and design. Hundreds of GW students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered on the Foggy Bottom campus for the unveiling of the university’s new look and logo by President Steven Knapp in the Marvin Center. The new logo will further unite GW’s diverse campuses, schools and programs, while also reinforcing the university’s reputation as a world-class research institution.

“Our goal was to create a cohesive, singular, but flexible visual vocabulary for the university,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “The new identity is bold, passionate and forward-looking, and it communicates that George Washington offers a unique university experience.”

The bolder, more modern approach features a sans serif font for the logo and a digital portrait of George Washington created by John McGlasson, a double alumnus, who is the assistant director of visual design on the Marketing and Creative Services team within the university’s Division of External Relations. The new portrait is based on Jean-Antoine Houdon’s sculpture of George Washington, which is considered the most accurate rendering of the first president. The university worked closely with senior officials at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens to ensure the historical integrity of the portrait. A replica of the sculpture can be found in University Yard. The original Houdon bust is on permanent display at Mount Vernon.

“The old logo did not translate well into online and mobile mediums. There was little consistency around visual identity across the university, and each department and school had its own look and feel,” said Lorraine Voles, GW vice president of external relations. “The new logo and portrait are more representative of the university we are today and what we aspire to be in the future. Modernizing them also provides for better use across a broad array of applications that will serve the entire university community for years to come.”


In 2010, a university-wide committee led a research effort to develop a new message strategy that better reflected the qualities that make GW unique from other universities. Based on that strategy, in 2011, the university hired two consulting firms to help create a cohesive visual identity that aligned with the message strategy. The two firms selected were FutureBrand and 160over90. FutureBrand, whose global chairman is a two-time GW alum, was tasked with helping the university refresh its core identity elements. 160over90 was responsible for helping GW create a new look and feel for the university’s marketing and communication materials.

In addition to the introduction of the new logo, the university also launched a new campaign microsite to demonstrate how members of its community have made an impact on the world using the knowledge and relationships developed during their time at GW. The site will feature stories of the GW community and how they have made history in big and small ways. Community members can submit their own stories via YouTube or Flickr or record their stories in a mobile television studio that will be at various sites at GW’s three campuses from August 26-30. To learn how to submit a story or find out the studio schedule, visit   

In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

To download new graphics and logos, visit

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