Paul L. Caron

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Branding Experts Rank The Top 100 College And University Mottos

Tagline Guru, U.S. College & University Motto Survey:

More than 400 nominated U.S. college and university mottos from a universe of around 1,500 were sent to approximately 250 advertising, marketing, and branding professionals on both the client and agency side. ...

Respondents were asked to rank their top 10 mottos based on the following branding criteria:

  • Attributes: Does the motto embody a school’s character, style, or personality?
  • Message:  Does it tell a story in a compelling and memorable way?
  • Differentiation: Is it original in its attitude, point of view, or creative expression?
  • Ambassadorship:  Does it inspire you to want to go there, learn more, or donate more? ...

Top 100 U.S. College & University Mottos . . .

Oberlin1. Think one person can change the world? So do we.
Oberlin College • Oberlin, OH • 1833 • Private

The top-ranked motto was created in the 1980s by either Al Moran, the then VP for Communications at Oberlin; or Anne Paine, who was publications director at the time. It also might have been a group effort that included Moran, Paine, and others. The motto was dropped in 2006 and replaced with We are Oberlin: Fearless. Negative student and alumni reaction to the new motto finally compelled the university, through the efforts of Ben Jones, VP for Communications, to bring back “Think one person...” in 2013. Enjoying widespread acceptance, the motto is regarded as timeless because it serves as an empowering call to action and recognizes the individual as a self-determining force in society. By the way, the official motto of Oberlin is Learning and labor, which harkens back to the school’s founding in 1833. Prior to the 1980s, the school’s motto was the lackluster phrase A place to thrive.

Dartmouth2.  A voice crying out in the wilderness.
Dartmouth College • Hanover, NH • 1769 • Private

The motto is a translation from the Latin: Vox clamantis in deserto. It’s also been translated as The voice of one crying out in the wilderness. The origin of the expression is Isaiah 40:3, which has been translated as A voice crieth: clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness. Vox clamantis in deserto was chosen as the school’s motto in 1770 by Eleazar Wheelock, the founder of Dartmouth College, who wanted it embossed on the seal. Intended to be religious in nature (e.g., the search for God or pursuit of a higher truth), the motto has assumed a more secular meaning today (the search to find oneself), especially considering Dartmouth’s solitary location in rural New Hampshire! ...

Gallaudet Seal5.  Be opened.
Gallaudet University • Washington, D.C. • 1864 • Private

The motto is translated from the Aramaic word Ephphatha, which literally means “Be Thou opened." It was uttered by Christ when healing the man who was deaf and dumb (Mark 7:34). The motto was probably adopted at the time of the school’s founding. Gallaudet was the first school for the advanced education of the deaf and hard of hearing in the world. The motto itself refers to opening up the horizons of deaf people and empowering them to assume a greater role in society. Some have suggested that the motto’s original intent was to foster the development of a deaf pastoral ministry that would bring Christ to people who share similar disabilities.

I kinda like our Pepperdine Caruso Law motto: Equipped to Lead. Empowered to Serve.TM

Pepperdine Motto 2

Hat Tip:  University Business

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