A profound sense of place
Established in 1769, Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League university based in Hanover, New Hampshire. At almost 250 years old, this is the first time that the college will have a single unifying strategy for communications.
The framework is based around Dartmouth's five conceptual pillars: a devotion to the liberal arts; a commitment to the teacher-scholar model of education; treating Dartmouth as a base camp to explore the world; a sense of adventure; and a sense of place.
To support the new strategy for communications, OCD worked with a diverse team comprised of staff, faculty and students to develop a visual identity system and a wholly integrated brand strategy.
The Dartmouth wordmark is based on lettering crafted by renowned type designer Rudolph Ruzicka, a longtime resident of Hanover, New Hampshire. During site visits and long stays in the Rauner archives, the team found many items bearing his handiwork including the College’s bicentennial seal and plaque and the design of the Dartmouth Medal first given out in 1973 and still awarded today.
Type designer and co-founder of XYZ Type, Jesse Ragan, a long-time Ruzicka scholar, helped revive the lettering to create the new wordmark unique to this Ivy League institution.
At the heart of the Dartmouth identity is the Lone Pine, a storied tree that was known as a gathering spot for seniors in the early 1800s before being cut down in 1895 due to damage from lightning strikes. The stump is still used for commencements and special events.
The first Lone Pine symbol was created to celebrate the bicentennial in 1969 by another Hanover-based designer, John Scotford. Variations of the Lone Pine were used sparingly over the years until it was embraced by Dartmouth Athletics as a symbol of resilience and a signifier of its unique location.
OCD redrew the Lone Pine with the goal of preserving its original distinctiveness while also pushing its craft and storytelling. Opening the spacing between the branches helped improve legibility at small sizes. Strengthening the trunk helped make the shape more recognizable to people who are not Dartmouth grads.
As the elements of the identity system came together, a new college insignia emerged. The Dartmouth Pine (colloquially known as the D-Pine) honors the college’s legacy and tradition while building a fuller, more complete and more inclusive visual language.
We continued to work with type design specialist and Ruzicka Scholar, Jesse Ragan, to develop a family of typefaces for Dartmouth. The family, appropriately named Dartmouth Ruzicka, consists of eight weights and accompanying italics inspired by the work of the late Rudolph Ruzicka, designer and author of Studies in Type Design.
Ragan picked up where Ruzicka left off, refining the letterforms while maintaining their crisp, calligraphic structure. The chiseled edges, angular details, and other subtle flairs add up to create a timeless elegance that is perfectly suited for Dartmouth College.
We selected the sans serif typeface, National 2, as a perfect complement and contrast to Dartmouth Ruzicka. It includes historical references, like old style figures, but has a simplicity and clarity that is distinctly modern, which builds flexibility into the visual identity system.
A thoughtful social media presence is now undeniably important to the perception of a brand. Dartmouth departments, organizations and initiatives all need to be quickly and easily identified, but also make sense together in a media feed. The solution here is a mostly opt-in system allowing social strategists to fully align by using the Dartmouth Pine or to retain equity by using their own name or symbol. The one requirement is the Dartmouth green.