illustration of a cowboy with a cattle prod pushing a building that says School of Public Health

Brand New Look

By Sylvia Eggleston Wehr

The 2001 renaming of the School as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health presented a wonderful opportunity to clarify and unify the School's image (a process called "branding" in marketing parlance). We wanted to make the School's message more tangible and relevant to the outside world and to gain increased recognition for the School's global reach, its research and educational activities, and the significant impact these efforts have on everyday life. This, in turn, will help us reach the important goals the School's leadership has set—to attract the best and brightest students to public health and the School, to recruit and retain the finest faculty, and to garner critical funds for scholarship support, innovative research and the translation of discoveries into policy and practice. (See the story about our new campaign.) All of this focuses on our ultimate goal: protecting health and saving lives—millions at a time.

You can imagine the reaction of some of the School’s faculty to a term like "branding." As one of our senior professors said, "Isn't that what they do to cattle to keep the rustlers at bay?" I thought about looking into the genesis of the term "branding," but then decided I was probably happier not knowing. 

We did spend considerable time and effort developing this new identity—a process that involved all our key constituents. The result is reflected in the magazine before you—a new logo and typography, a new "tag line," and a new statement that expresses our mission to the external world. The logo has a number of elements: the globe, which represents the international scope of the School; the flame, signifying learning and lighting the way to the future; and the shape of the School’s original shield, which connects us to the School’s long history and the University's seal. 

Chris Jones, a member of the School's Health Advisory Board and past CEO of J. Walter Thompson International (one of the world's largest advertising agencies), told a wonderful, albeit apocryphal, story that helped put the branding process in perspective: When George Washington and Thomas Jefferson saw the new American flag for the first time, Jefferson said, "I don’t know, George, it just looks like a lot of stars and stripes to me; it doesn’t say America." Clearly, it takes decades and a lot of hard work before a logo is easily recognized and makes a powerful statement.

Perhaps someday our new logo will be as recognizable as the Nike swoosh or the Olympic rings, and it will make everyone who sees it think about the importance of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and public health in general. Now, there's something worth dreaming about!