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Middlebury Launches New Brand Identity System

January 7, 2015

Middlebury has kicked off 2015 with a new look and family of names for its schools and programs.

The Vermont institution today introduced a brand identity system that embraces the full breadth of its educational endeavors by placing the Middlebury name on each of its schools and programs. While best known for its undergraduate liberal arts college, which was founded in 1800, Middlebury has, over the last 100 years, built itself into a more complex institution that meets the educational needs of many types of students around the world. Today Middlebury educates as many graduate and summer students as it does undergraduates.

“This new system greatly clarifies the relationships among our rich and varied academic entities, while ensuring that each of them retains its unique identity and mission,” said Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz. “Educational institutions do not make these changes lightly, and that certainly was true here. But the need for this was impossible to ignore. Our most recent reaccreditation report noted that few people understood all that Middlebury had become and that the identities of our programs blended together, which created unnecessary confusion. I’m confident the clarity we’ve achieved with this new system will benefit our individual programs and Middlebury as a whole.”

In addition to Middlebury College, Middlebury is comprised of a number of other schools and programs: 

  • The Middlebury Language Schools offer intensive immersion graduate degree and non-degree language programs in 11 languages. The Middlebury Language Schools will celebrate the centennial of their founding this year and have conferred more than 12,000 master’s degrees since their inception.
  • The Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, founded in 1920, is an intensive summer graduate program offering a diverse curriculum in the fields of literature, creative writing, and theater arts. It awards, on average, 80 master’s degrees a year.
  • The Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference has for nearly 90 years brought together aspiring writers who wish to improve their craft by working with distinguished writers and poets. It was the first writers’ conference in the U.S. and remains the most esteemed gathering of its kind.
  • The Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, which started in 1949, provide undergraduate students from many colleges and universities, and graduate students from the Language Schools, with an academically rigorous experience at 36 sites in 16 countries around the world.
  • The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, formerly known as the Monterey Institute of International Studies, offers excellent professional graduate programs in translation and interpretation, language education, and a number of policy and management, nonproliferation, and sustainable development fields. The Institute was founded in 1955 and was formally acquired by Middlebury in 2010 following a five-year affiliation.
  • The Middlebury School of the Environment, Middlebury’s newest school, is a six-week summer program that builds on the institution’s long-standing leadership in environmental education, most notably the first undergraduate major in environmental studies in the country.

Middlebury spent more than a year developing, refining, and testing the new brand identity system, which the Board of Trustees unanimously approved last September. An essential part of the system is a new visual icon in the form of a shield that is built upon a set of elements that are familiar to the Middlebury community: the mountains; a book; a globe, which represents the institution’s global focus; the historic and iconic building at the center of the Vermont campus known as Old Chapel; and the founding date of 1800.

All of the Middlebury schools will use the shield with the exception of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. For the Institute, Middlebury has created a modified design that replaces the Green Mountains of Vermont and Old Chapel with the historic Segal Building from the Monterey campus and the year of the Institute’s founding. The traditional Middlebury seal will remain in service for ceremonial uses.

“We took great care with our process,” said Middlebury Vice President for Communications and Marketing Bill Burger, who oversaw the project. “In all, we spoke with nearly 400 people—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—over the last year. With that many people, you receive a lot of feedback, and it was indispensable. And in the end, that gives you a better product and greater confidence in the work.”

Middlebury has created a website,, that explains the system and the process that led to its creation, and a companion website,, that addresses the unique elements of the Institute’s new identity.



Félicitations! ¡Enhorabuena! Parabéns! Kudos on the new brand that reflects key Middlebury elements in a clear and concise way. I look forward to seeing it frequently. Also, your short video is great!

by Christi Rentsch... (not verified)

I really like the new logo. It is great to see that the Old Chapel image is back in use and, of course, it is appropriate that Monterrey's iconic building is profiled in its version of the logo. The graphics are clean and uncluttered. Well done! Congrats to the design team. Bob Sideli '77

by Bob Sideli (not verified)

I like it. Go Midd! I am glad we're still Blue.

by Kevin Donahue `75 (not verified)

I hope you will urge the bookstore to promptly order new merchandise incorporating the new design. Well done

by Richard fenton (not verified)

I'm so glad we wasted hundreds of hours and countless dollars to design a logo that my 11-year old cousin could have created in an hour of finger painting class rather than lower the cost of tuition or further improve our facilities.

by 2013 Alum (not verified)

It appears that Midd's mission has migrated from undergraduate education to graduate programs. One cannot serve two masters at the same time. Middlebury University? As a comparison, Dartmouth has kept it's focus on being the "leading undergraduate educational institution" (their words, not mine) despite having some world class graduate programs. It will be interesting to know how much of the undergraduate giving and administrative focus is spent on undergraduate education versus graduate programs.

by Bret Bero (not verified)

I'm not sure where you're getting that impression. Middlebury has balanced undergraduate and graduate programs for a century, starting with the first language school in 1915. But the foundation of the institution has always been the undergraduate college. Unlike Dartmouth, say, undergraduates at Middlebury don't share resources and faculty attention with graduate students during the academic year. That's decidedly different from a university model. All Middlebury seems to have done is to provide clarity about what it has been doing for many years.

by Midd Employee (not verified)

The new design is very professional, and yet academic. I remember the outcry a few years ago over the "leaf" design. I'm glad Middlebury took the time to get input from everyone on this important decision. The only thing that concerns me is the marketing and branding rhetoric that accompanied this change. I understand that Middlebury relies on its image to support its reputation, but it seems like the language they're using is more from the corporate world than the academic. We are not a company of investors, but a company of scholars. It is not naive or foolish to speak
 ...View More
in the terms of the academic values that are at the core of the very reputation this branding is attempting to solidify. Middlebury has always been a leader in liberal arts education, in language study, in general quality of education... But I'm worried we are also becoming a leader in the ever-increasing corporatization of colleges in the US.
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by Alsoanalum (not verified)

Very much like what you have done. Excellent. Dr. Alden G. Lank '55

by Alden G. Lank (not verified)

Amen. I couldn't agree more about the use of corporate jargon and phrases. Surely we can be proud of and promote the various Middlebury institutions without sounding like "a company of investors," which the repeated use of the word "brand"implies. Maybe it sounds too corny or lowly, but how about the Middlebury family of learning institutions or something to that effect? I appreciate this online forum for receiving feedback.

by Robin Thomas '67 (not verified)

If this is something the College stakeholders gained from the reaccreditation process, then I am all for clarifying what Middlebury encompasses.

by Chip Cummings (not verified)

Congratulations and thanks to the design team for all of its hard work and diligence. The finished product is wonderful! And thank you for the video that puts it all together for us! Go Midd! Molly Evans '96

by Molly Evans (not verified)

Very glad to see the Old Chapel retained in the new design to proudly preserve from whence we came.

by Carole Broer '11 (not verified)

Here's two cents from a Nebraskan alum. I wear my Middlebury College gear and, personally, I like the seal, but I do understand the importance/relevance of branding. Before I attended MIDD, I travelled the world and did a year abroad, in Japan, with the Rotary International program. I wore the Rotary logo that year and EVERYWHERE I went that logo was understood and respected. Bottom line is this---hardly anyone in the Midwest has even heard of "Middlebury College." So let's get this in high gear and get recognition EVERYWHERE!

by Sonya Kay Wing '93 (not verified)

Middlebury undergraduates do "share" resources, most notably through the endowment, built up over generations by graduates and friends of the undergraduate College. As other parts of the university draw on this endowment (often operating at a loss), the opportunity, say, to increase financial aid to undergraduates is lost.

by John Schmitt (not verified)

Very nice. Great video explanation of the iconography, too. Not a huge fan of the mountain profile in the back, though it strongly represents my second degree from BL :). But the identity across platforms is clear, and will help explain who we are. Love the Monterey shield as well.

by Richard Tarlov (not verified)

Stumbled on this again and just have to counter all this undeserved praise. What a dog of a logo. Half-baked academic clip art meets chunky internet banality. What’s with the shield? We have no martial history and no need to reference something of that warlike sort. Even the old refined Bembo wordmark got degenerated into a robot version of its former self. It’s been awhile since they adopted this, but I still can’t wait till the day this goes in the dustbin.

by Chris Hassig ‘09 (not verified)