Saturday, March 6, 2010

How to Sell a School?

One of the big challenges at OLSWA lies in articulating its uniqueness. We are always looking for just that perfect catch-phrase that would be effective in spreading the word about us. I am absolutely convinced that if a lot more people knew about us we would have no financial problems, and we would be doing such a great job forming even more students in mature Catholicism. So, the catch-phrase isn't a make-or-break-it thing. It's just a foot in the door. Other Catholic colleges have variously good and bad ones (although they are all convinced that theirs are good!). I'll let you decide.

Steubenville: Academically Challenging. Passionately Catholic.

Christendom: A Roman Catholic College. yaaaaaawwwn. (That last part was me. Couldn't resist)

Thomas Aquinas College: Verum. Bonum. Pulcrum - The True. The Good. The Beautiful.

Ave Maria: Ex Corde Ecclesiae - From the Heart of the Church

Belmont Abbey College: That in all things God may be Glorified.

Magdalen College: Preparation for Life

Redeemer Pacific: Developing Dynamic Catholic Leaders

Several schools don't seem to have mottoes. And I don't consider Notre Dame Catholic, nor any Canadian Colleges other than Redeemer Pacific, so that's why they're not here.

As you can see, it's harder than you'd first think to develop a good motto or tag line. The one that the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus of First Things used to love to mock was 'In the Jesuit Tradition.' Most of the above are okay, but none of them scream out, "we're actually a good Catholic College, unlike most of the other ones."

A lot depends upon context. Here in Canada you need a word or phrase that makes your intended audience realize that you are not some past-Catholic institution like all the others, while not undermining that you are also academically excellent and not a bible college (unless you actually are a bible college!).

What about: Restoring all things in Christ - Pius X's motto. It is good at underscoring the school's fidelity to the Church, but sounds a little reactionary in a way that might give a negative spin to its academics. That's why a reference to Newman is always good. It underscores both tradition and high academics.

Some of my thoughts:

'The Word Alive'

'Christ in the Academy'

'The Catholic School'

'The Splendor of the Truth'

'Canada's Catholic School'

'Tradition Alive'

'Education, Truly Catholic'

'Alive to Truth'

'Living Faith'

'Thinking Faith'

'The Catholic Intellectual Life'

OLSWA's motto is still: "Excellence in Catholic Higher Education," more than anything because the law in Ontario says that we cannot use the word 'college' unless they say we can. And since 'academy' has a high school ring to it, we need to let people know we are post-secondary.

I guess this is why people in advertising make big bucks.

A few silly ones:

"We Wouldn't be Here if all the Others Weren't so Bad"

"Humane Vitae - Yeah!"

"The Spirit of Nicaea II"

"Orthodoxy, Why Not?"

"Some Laymen aren't Heretics"

"Lay People filling in for Bishops"

"We Actually Believe"

"The Government is Terrible"

"Homosexualist and Feminist Free Zone"

"Thinking out the Implications of an Objective Moral Code"

"Ecumenism... Whoops"


  1. I love your "outtake" slogans.
    They mightn't help you fundraise any more though.

    Why not include the word "Authentic" in it? That would help to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to say. (A certain Haligonian university would never dare to call itself "authentically Catholic", par example).

    Also, "Restoring all things to Christ" is Madonna House's slogan.

    One last thing, you're right that Christendom's motto needs some work. I mean REALLY.

  2. Ok, I can't resist the outtakes and I insist that some of them somehow reference Barry's Bay and its heritage:
    "Kaszub to the Core"
    "Not so Shalla" (Shallow/Shalla)
    "JPII: We love you" (admittedly stolen from WYD)
    "The cafeteria is closed" (Don't you sell this bumper sticker?)
    "This is not Canada; this is Barry's Bay."
    "Polish your faith: Let it shine."

  3. Good meeting you today Colin!

    I agree with Jenna - "Authentic" is a good addition.

    OLSWA - "Vibrant, Authentic, Catholic Post-Secondary Education"....that is how I have been describing it to people when they ask where Bethany is going next year.

    What about something alluding to the "new traditionalism" that seems so prevalent about this generation of committed Catholic young adults?

    Side note - when I read Elena's comment, I thought the last one was "Polish" as in "Pole-ish"...

  4. Sue, I did mean Pole-ish - it was a pun...

  5. Hello, Colin!

    Just a quick FYI: Christendom College's motto is "To Restore all Things in Christ." In advertisements we use "Breathe Catholic." Just thought you'd like to know. :)

    God bless,
    Niall O'Donnell
    PR & Marketing

  6. Oh my goodness! I will give Christendom a formal apology in my next blog. But I am happy to be wrong in this case, most certainly. I have none but the highest regards for your fine institution - in fact, I am currently enrolled in a Philosophy course there with Dr. Burns, and loving it. Thanks for the correction, Niall!