#GateCityU: An environmental graphics project becomes a chance to brand a college town

When the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce hired Tigermoth to create an “education wall” featuring the logos of the seven institutions of higher education in Guilford County, we saw an opportunity to elevate the project. After all, one of the things we love the most about working and living in Greensboro is being surrounded by so many outstanding colleges and universities, all unique from one another. Showcasing that for visitors to the Chamber of Commerce was an exciting proposition. We didn’t see just a wall — we saw the chance to make a powerful statement that goes well beyond logos and mascots.

What does it SAY about Greensboro that we are a higher ed city?

We took an approach that would convey not simply the quantity and variety of institutions in our hometown, but what Greensboro’s commitment to higher education means to our community. This project inspired us to think bigger than the wall — we loved the idea of a theme and hashtag that really branded our city as the college town it is.

After presenting our client with a number of concepts, their final choice was the line that really went to the heart of how education has transformed lives and even social structures: “The freedom to learn. The freedom to lead.”

Let’s take a look at the rationale for this theme.

Greensboro has always pushed forward the desire — and the right — to learn freely and fully. The opportunity to explore possibilities and to contribute matters deeply here. Education is freeing. It makes people, families and communities stronger, and positive change possible. It signifies hope, growth, advancement and opportunity. Greensboro has prioritized educational opportunity from the beginning. Look at our history. Greensboro was the first city in the Southeast to desegregate a public school. Greensboro College was the first state-chartered college for women in North Carolina. A wooded area on the Guilford College campus is where the Underground Railroad began. We’ve been breaking barriers through education since 1838. And with at least seven colleges and universities in our city alone, we’ve continued to make education and discovery one of the threads that define and unite our community — because with the freedom to learn comes the freedom to lead.

Our goal was to allow “freedom” to signify many things: the right to learn, the power of discovery and the ability to forge one’s own path to success. To carry out the message, we crafted a short narrative and wrote specific points of pride for each institution. And we capped the copy with a hashtag that positioned Greensboro to proudly claim itself as a higher ed town: #GateCityU — giving our client the option of leveraging the headline and hashtag in future communications and campaigns.

Andrea Crossley Spencer is Co-founder and Director of Creative Writing at Tigermoth Creative. Her 20-year copywriting career spans advertising agencies and higher education, with a focus on brand messaging and fundraising. A fiction writer on the side, Andrea is represented by Copps Literary Services. She teaches writing workshops to young writers in local schools.