"Penn State Lives Here" —well, yeah. Clearly.
The new branding initiative that the university rolled out over Homecoming weekend — brandishing the slogan "Penn State Lives Here" across lawn signs and campus banners — had many students puzzled as to what exactly that means. Of course Penn State lives here. This is Penn State University, where else would it live?
In addition to the strange nature of the new school motto, the launch of the branding strategy was presented in very ambiguous terms. There was no formal announcement — but signs began cropping up mysteriously through campus until the giant banners were placed on several class buildings, indicating that this was a coordinated launch of a new Penn State brand.
But we can't help but wonder, is this the best we can do?
This branding concept is certainly not original, nor is it much of a statement. Why hasn't the university sent out an announcement about their intent to launch a new brand?
Penn State Director of Marketing Cynthia Hall indicated that the new brand slogan was created after consulting "thousands of Penn State students, faculty, staff and alumni," and that the marketing campaign is meant to reflect the results of that focus testing.
How much did Penn State pay for these four words?
Frankly, we're confident that the current undergraduate marketing majors across the many Penn State campuses could have put their heads together and come up with something much more effective and meaningful than "Penn State Lives Here" at a fraction of the cost that Penn State likely paid to make this happen. The phrase "Penn State Lives Here" can be taken literally to mean that Penn State is physically right here in front of us, or extrapolated to mean that the essence of Penn State lives within all of us who have a love for this university.
Perhaps this new brand is well intentioned when looking at it through such a lens, but its triteness doesn't make it feel like a new brand, but a recycled one. There have been many organizations to use the “lives here” format, and with that in mind, this new brand doesn't reflect the kind of innovation that Penn State truly represents.
We urge the university to reconsider the placement and presentation of this new brand launch, and consider how this looks to students who know very well that Penn State, in fact, lives at Penn State.
Perhaps most importantly of all, we urge Penn State to be forthcoming with the cost and logistics of this branding initiative. Tell us how much was spent, and remove the air of mystery from what has been a very mysterious campaign to incorporate a new brand into the university.
Curiosity lives here — what were you were thinking, Penn State?