Introducing a refresh of the college's visual identity

Williams faculty, students and staff,

If you had to describe the essence of Williams in just a few words or images, which ones would you choose?

It seems like a simple question… but Williams isn’t a simple place. In our work in the Office of Communications, we often have to help Williams spark the interest of people who don’t know the college yet: prospective students, job candidates, journalists, potential funders and employers, even alumni who may not have visited for many years.

We’ve recently updated the college’s visual identity for this purpose and wanted to introduce you to the new system and let you know how you can incorporate it into your own projects.

To go back to that opening question: Why should people with so many other demands on their awareness pay attention to Williams? In order to excite their interest and draw them into deeper engagement, communicators have to be able to quickly and vividly express something about the college that’s both authentic to our character and appealing to our audience.

One of the ways this is done is through visual identity: a system of typefaces, colors, wordmarks and other elements that together create a strong first impression of an organization.

With support from Maud, Dukes and the Board of Trustees, we and two of our key externally-facing partners and colleagues—Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Liz Creighton ’01—and our teams recently refreshed Williams’ visual identity.

The new system, created in partnership with the design studio Order, is available to view and use at, including downloadable fonts and graphics. We invite you to explore and use the system in your own work, from business cards and letterhead to web banners and newsletters.

Please contact the Communications team for assistance with these projects. We’re approaching the effort with both environmental and financial sustainability in mind. So please don’t throw away your existing stock to make the switch! Instead, just use what you have until it runs out, then email Meike for help designing new pieces. While this means the old and new identities will coexist for a while, it’s kinder to the environment and avoids wasting money.

Going forward, we and our colleagues at the Zilkha Center would love to help you think about environmentally-responsible communications strategies for your future communications, as well. And the Communications team also enjoys hearing from students who are interested in visual identity work or the communications and marketing professions generally.

Meanwhile, you’ll soon see the new design elements start to appear in the college’s admission and alumni communications, on and elsewhere. Thank you in advance for incorporating them into your own projects whenever your department, program or office is signalling its affiliation with Williams as a whole.

No visual identity can or should try to capture every aspect of a multi-faceted place like Williams. But over time we hope people will see this identity as evocative of something distinctive about Williams’ character.

We appreciate you helping that effort by using the materials in your own work, and look forward to hearing from you as you do.


Jim Reische, Chief Communications Officer
Meike Kaan, Vice President for Communications