5 August 2022 • Alums HWS Wins National Awards for Branding, Website, Admissions

Hobart and William Smith were awarded a gold and two silver Circle of Excellence Awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

This summer, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ marketing and publication efforts with three Circle of Excellence Awards. The branding redesign won gold, while the new website and the student recruitment viewbook were each awarded silver.

The two-year rebranding project was intended to present an institutional identity that resonates deeply with HWS history, character, purpose and aspirations while supporting new student recruitment and fundraising efforts.

Launched in September 2021, the website redesign was the first visual representation of the rebrand. The website incorporates the updated color palette, font, voice, photography and overall graphic style to align with the future-focused brand strategy.

HWS Lookbook

Browse the 2021 HWS Viewbook

The viewbook, informed by the rebranding project’s research, uses a confident, conversational tone to tell the HWS story and invite prospective students to preview their HWS journey.

“As a Board member and an alum, I’m so pleased with the storytelling mastery of the new branding,” says Trustee Michael Rawlins ’80, P’16, Head of the Enterprise Content Platforms Design Team, The Walt Disney Company, and a member of the taskforce that oversaw the branding project. “A Hobart and William Smith education is not just about the diploma — it’s about the experiences and community. Our branding is compelling because it’s unique to the experiences that you get when you come to Geneva. Kudos to Cathy Williams and the HWS Communications team for bringing that to life.” 

Trustee Linda Arrington ’88, Chief Marketing Officer, Commercial Banking, JPMorgan Chase & Co., also a member of the Branding Taskforce, credits the forward-looking input from stakeholders on this project. “Thanks to the thoughtful feedback and insights from the HWS community, the branding illustratively brings to life the Colleges’ many value propositions. It distills who we are and the future that students can build by coming here. I’m incredibly proud of the taskforce and the results of our work together.” 

Other Branding Taskforce members included President Joyce P. Jacobsen, Professor of Education and Associate Provost for Curricular Initiatives and Development Jamie MaKinster, Associate Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer, Vice President for Advancement Bob O’Connor P’22, P’23, Vice President and Dean of Admissions John Young, Associate Vice President for Advancement Jared Weeden ’91,  Vice President for Marketing and Communications Cathy Williams, Director of Marketing Gina Kane and Student Trustees Edens Fleurizard ’20, Gianna Gonzalez ’20, Audrey Platt ’21, Albright Dwarka ’21, Gib Shea ’22 and Nuzhat Wahid ’22.

Read the judges’ comments below.

On the Branding

“The student research that drove new insights is very impressive. Most universities develop their brand positioning from the inside out as opposed to the outside in. Bravo to the team for listening to students and their values and motivations. The type you are using is super hip and those photos of the environment enticing. Also, the photos look genuine and not posed.”

On the website

“The first two statements on the home page completely grabbed the judges. They loved the design and content and felt that the overall nomination was well organized and presented beautifully.”

On the viewbook

“We found the Hobart and William Smith piece unique and well-executed. The choices were deliberate and thoughtful. We particularly loved how all of the programs were highlighted in a bold way that was very relevant to the target audience. The call-out boxes added a conversational tone and the intentional decision not to use student profiles were great ways to convey how HWS was a collaborative and supportive educational experience.”

The Circle of Excellence Awards showcase outstanding work in advancement services, alum relations, communications, fundraising and marketing. The awards are open to professionals working at CASE member colleges, universities, independent schools and their affiliated nonprofits around the world.

CASE is the global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement professionals—in alum relations, communications, development, marketing and advancement services—who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society.