Florida State University’s website, social media pages and buses are all decked out with a new logo following a recent — and subtle — rebranding.

Moving forward, a logo of simplicity that boldly displays the letters “FSU” in gold with garnet outlining takes the forefront of the university’s brand as the new academic mark.

Most notable is a markedly reduced emphasis on the Seminole head logo, which the school has called “one of the most recognizable and iconic marks in sports,” reserving its use exclusively for athletics.

While the university’s marketing team has been working on the rebranding for over a year, the new logo was made official Monday and announced to FSU employees via email as part of an internal brand launch.

“Previously, FSU was one of the only public universities in the country without three identifying marks,” FSU Chief Marketing Officer Susannah Wesley-Ahlschwede said in a prepared statement sent to the Tallahassee Democrat Wednesday. She spearheaded the rebranding effort along with FSU’s Director of Marketing & Creative Katie Grab.

Wesley-Ahlschwede was appointed FSU’s inaugural Chief Marketing Officer in January 2023 following a national search and started the role in February 2023. The position was created by FSU President Richard McCullough, who launched the search for the new role shortly after taking office in 2021.

“Most prestigious and R1 (Very High Research Activity) universities use a university seal, their primary institution identity which is text, and a primary athletic mark,” she said. “For many years, FSU has only had two marks — the seal and athletic mark.”

The new academic mark adds to the university’s seal — a formal trademarked emblem with FSU’s “Vires, Artes, Mores” torches that will now be kept sacred for purposes such as commencement — and an athletic mark, which is the Seminole head. Secondary athletic marks include the Seminole Spear and Spearhead.

Mark Zeigler, an FSU senior lecturer and director of First Year Experience Programs at the College of Business, says although he has always liked the official seal, he understands the university’s wishes to keep it for special occasions.

“Personally, when it comes to branding, our behavior as faculty, staff and students is more important than any of our symbols,” Zeigler said. “As long as we continue to work hard, put students first and treat each other well, I believe the brand will take care of itself.”

Enhancing FSU’s brand has been a part of the university’s strategic plan laid out in 2023, according to an FSU spokesperson.

“This brand work is a testament to our dedication to accessibility and academic excellence,” McCullough said in a prepared statement sent to the Democrat. “This new visual identity not only honors our rich heritage but also propels us forward and aligns with our strategic goals of attracting the best talent and fostering a strong, cohesive community.”

Besides keeping the university seal sacred, Wesley-Ahlschwede says FSU’s rebranding had some other key focuses:

  • Enhancing FSU recognition for the work being done across the university.
  • Standing out to attract the best students, faculty and researchers and to build stronger connections with FSU alumni.
  • Modernizing FSU’s image and creating a primary institutional identity that is readable and accessible for all people across all formats (including those with low vision, dyslexia, dysgraphia and neurodivergence).

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A ‘bold, ambitious’ new logo

As of Spring 2023, FSU had 1,767 logos in use across campus with different departments, institutes, labs and divisions creating their own logos, according to Wesley-Ahlschwede.

“Sometimes, this meant that our academic achievements weren’t recognized by external stakeholders as coming from FSU,” Wesley-Ahlschwede said. “And sometimes this meant the seal was being used in settings where it was too small to be readable or recognizable.”

FSU’s new brand comes after a couple of similar rebranding efforts have taken place in the community recently, such as the renaming and logo change of Tallahassee Community College to Tallahassee State College. The new name was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March and went into effect Monday.

More: Now it’s official: TCC to become Tallahassee State College after DeSantis OKs name change

In addition, Leon County Schools launched a rebranding in April with a new logo and marketing campaign video, a website redesign and marketing plans for social media and other communications.

While TSC has an estimated budget of $500,000 over the next two fiscal years for its rebranding efforts, Leon County Schools had a $100,000 contract with local marketing firms BowStern Marketing Communications and Hammerhead Communications for its project.

FSU’s estimated budget and costs have not yet been shared upon request, but Wesley-Ahlschwede says the university’s goals were “achieved at minimal external cost.”

The university’s rebranding project was handled in-house — meaning that an outside firm was not hired for assistance — as the FSU Marketing team spent nearly 16 months of research, focus groups, benchmarking, accessibility testing, internal development and socializing among leaders.

The team also worked with internal departments across FSU, including Information Technology Services, Finance and Administration, the College of Business, the Division of Student Affairs, University Communications, the President’s and Provost’s offices and retailers who produce FSU products sold in stores, according to Wesley-Ahlschwede.

FSU Assistant Professor of Marketing Riley Krotz believes the new logo gets the job done of enhancing FSU’s recognition across the world.

“Our new logo clearly conveys the qualities present in our students, alumni, faculty and staff — bold, ambitious and always at the forefront of innovation,” Krotz said Friday.

The brand will be promoted to external audiences at the end of August around the start of the fall semester, which will be Aug. 26. In the meantime, physical changes have started taking place around campus and around Tallahassee.

Contact Tarah Jean at [email protected] or follow her on X: @tarahjean_.