TCU approached Schaefer to develop branding for their Sesquicentennial, or as it is more commonly referred to, their 150th anniversary celebration. Though 2023 was the big year to promote this monumental achievement, we started this project in 2019. We were charged with creating a logo and graphic system that would celebrate one of the university’s most significant milestones in their history and promote their vision for the future.
Schaefer was specifically selected based on our creative capabilities, connection to the TCU and Fort Worth communities and our ability to deftly navigate a committee-led initiative that would have a high-profile position among many audiences.
We dove into this challenge head first, conducting extensive research, including comparative landscape research, archival research, and interviews with key trustees, former Chancellor Bill Tucker, alumni, administration, students and committee members. Through this exploration, several key themes and values clearly stood out across generations of TCU students and alumni. A commitment to academic excellence, a strong sense of community, and a focus on service and leadership remained constant in spite of all the changes in the world over 15 decades.
“Our history is incomplete. Our speaking and our learning are incomplete. We will not demand vows or enjoin commitment to truth that we are still discovering. We will fill the next century by seeking, by entering gladly its maze of marvels, whose patterns will emerge, surprising us with joy. We light this torch to mark our hopes and expectations; its warmth and light tell our best intention.”1973’s Centennial presentation by former Chancellor J.M. Moudy
In the archives of the TCU Library, we reviewed yearbooks, invitations, speeches, photographs, posters and other relics from the past. It provided consistent and humbling reminders of the responsibility we held in our hands to carry on an amazing legacy of intention in the pursuit of our best.
At its core, this logo had to connect. It had to compliment the existing arched TCU mark. Though it could leverage the equity of TCU’s logo, it had to balance alongside it and add specific meaning to this special occasion. It had to be clearly recognizable to our alumni base and students in a way that evoked pride built on meaning. It had to bridge 150 years of history and lean into its bold vision for the future. It had to support a broader ad campaign with a wide range of uses from video to merchandise, signage, athletic uniforms and fields of play, graduation gowns, lapel pins and even a drone show.
The final mark leverages the iconic symbol of Frog Fountain. Located in the heart of the TCU campus, Frog Fountain has four stylized flutes representing each class of students, and the water flowing between them symbolizing the passing of knowledge from class to class. This was the visual icon we felt could link generations in meaning, memory and pride.
The branding campaign for TCU’s 150th anniversary launched in the fall of 2022 and has marked the celebration with great consistency and clarity. Our small but mighty mark has lit up the sky above campus, stood behind the bell on Wall Street, found its way to the National College Football Championship, been painted on murals across the US and used almost everywhere in between. “To say we are proud of this little mark is an understatement. Our team is honored to be a part of this monumental milestone for a university that is leading us all into the future,” Charlie Howlett, VP, Creative Director (TCU Class of 2006).