Close grid

University of Hartford

University of Hartford

The University of Hartford partnered with 160over90 to develop a strategic brand versatile enough to work for the specialized needs of its colleges and schools, yet unifying enough to help the entire university raise its standing among peers in the competitive higher ed landscape of New England.


Ever since its founding in 1957 when three schools came together to form the University of Hartford, distinctness has been central to the institution’s story. When we set foot onto Hartford’s central quad, that distinctiveness stood out literally — no two buildings look exactly alike. But we also got to see that distinctiveness in all that the institution offers students across more than 100 programs of study. And we also found that, regardless of the program, Hartford was offering a distinctive experience to its students: an uncommon focus on undergraduate teaching that helps bring out the very best in each and every student.


The more we learned and discovered, the more we realized Hartford had a great story to tell. Every professor we spoke to, every dean, every coach — everyone shared great examples of how they are helping students tap into their potential to become better versions of themselves. And this story was emblematic of the institution as a whole. After all, Hartford is the young upstart among New England’s private universities. It’s a little rough around the edges, from its concrete and brick buildings to the honesty and candor of its professors.

We leveraged this persona to tell the greater university’s story while making it relatable to the very students and prospective students it serves. The brand’s voice took on the tone of a mentor — a voice that flexes from trusted advisor to wise professor and motivational coach, offering just the right blend of challenge and support. To bring the brand to life, we partnered with architecture firm Ambit to reimagine and redesign the spaces of Hartford’s admissions house. We developed specialized recruitment pieces for Hartford Art School, as well as a viewbook for the entire university. We infused the brand’s messaging into the university’s campus — its sidewalks, cafeteria, athletic facilities and campus store, all delivering the same branded story — Hartford University is “distinctive by design,” and its approach develops especially distinguished graduates.


Immediately, the new brand helped the university climb 15 positions in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings from 2013-2014. Applications for the Hartford Art School increased by 27% and our work was recognized in publications such as How International (Best In Show), Graphis, Prints Regional Design Annual and Under Consideration (Best of 2014).

Recognized by:

15-Spot Increase in U.S. News & World Report Rankings
27% Increase in Art School Applications
Most Applications in School History