A New Year and Exciting New Look for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
By Office of the President | Jan 6, 2022
When I joined SUNY Downstate five years ago, two things immediately became evident that needed to be done to elevate Downstate as a top-quality institution. First, we needed a new identity, and second, a new website.
On Tuesday, December 7, Downstate Health Sciences University took a significant step in our 160-year history. We unveiled a new logo and brand identity! Additionally, we launched our brand-new website, www.downstate.edu, another long-awaited but necessary transformation. I was thrilled to join Downstate students, faculty, staff, and friends to announce the exciting grand reveal!
This innovative brand identity launch features a new logo that honors Downstate’s legacy, establishes an approachable, legible, and contemporary visual identity, and reflects our commitment to an accessible institution. In addition, a sub-brand that encompasses all of our clinical offerings, services, and sites—Downstate Health—was developed. As part of the ongoing branding rollout, Downstate’s new identity will be showcased in a series of ads currently under development that will soon be seen throughout the community and Brooklyn. We also renamed the University Hospital of Brooklyn to University Hospital at Downstate, retaining the critically-important “Downstate” name as its foundation.
This effort is the most significant effort undertaken by Downstate to revamp its institutional identity comprehensively. Our clinical, academic, and research growth are more critical than ever as COVID-19 requires us to be agile, to remain competitive, forward-thinking, and evolving. Downstate’s leadership explains why striking the right balance was imperative, considering our long-term vision as an academic health sciences center, safety-net hospital, and an innovative research leader.
As part of the research and thought process for representative imagery, it was essential to recognize how Downstate’s legacy would be captured. We considered our esteemed clinical and research history in Dr. Robert Furchgott’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering nitric oxide as a new cellular signal, Dr. Samuel Kountz’s pioneering work in renal transplantation, and Dr. Raymond Damadian’s invention of the first full-body MRI machine. We needed inspiration behind the brand!
I am also proud that approximately 65 percent of College of Medicine graduates remain in New York State to practice medicine, that Downstate receives more than $48M in research funds each year through the Research Foundation, and that University Hospital at Downstate healthcare professionals logged more than a combined 230,000 in-patient discharges and outpatient visits in 2021 from Brooklyn and throughout New York City.
Our new look and logo capture our institutional strengths and ingenuity and all we are—our purpose, contributions to sciences, and our institutional offerings. Although our legacy logo with the Brooklyn Bridge represents personal and positive sentiments about Downstate, after much research, we could not determine why the Brooklyn Bridge was initially selected—other than our location.
In the next few weeks, you will receive brand usage guidelines, electronic access to the brand catalog, and detailed information on the appropriate use of the new logo and templates for business collateral, all necessary for migrating to the new identity. It will provide the foundation for consistent application of the Downstate brand across all media, including interface, web, collateral, and promotions. A rich “Downstate” navy blue will serve as our brand’s corporate colors for all print and electronic applications.
The consistent representation of the Downstate core colors helps reinforce our brand’s distinctiveness. Therefore, an extended color palette has been created for presentations and other materials. In addition, a series of templates and resources are currently under development. It will include downloadable PowerPoint presentations, fonts, memoranda, business cards, and other stationery and collateral elements.
I extend thanks to the Office of Communications & Marketing under whose purview both projects fell. Working with branding vendor MBLM, Sefanit Befekadu spearheaded the branding project for the department. Graphic designer Sean Thill led the logo and identity development creation and process. Marketing director James Gerontzos, MBA, and Special Projects director Ellen Watson provided review, context, input, and information to complement the creative process.
As Brooklyn’s only academic health sciences center, SUNY Downstate remains a pillar throughout New York, and most significantly in the borough as a leader in academia, research, and innovative health care.
Our new website was one of our rebrand’s most dramatic and visible components and one of my priorities when I joined Downstate. The new website elevates our presence, drives engagement and growth, and enhances our reputation. The new look is a modern design created to accommodate easy navigation, better showcase who we are, and be user-friendly. The new website also offers prospective students, employees, researchers, medical professionals, and other stakeholders a more comprehensive understanding of the Downstate enterprises.
After more than a year of that included an extensive RFP bidding, procurement, and vendor selection process, we chose mStoner. This company also created the official www.suny.edu website. Unfortunately, just as they began working on the initial research phase, engaging and interviewing stakeholders, we were met with COVID-19. So, after a brief hiatus through the apex of the pandemic, mStoner and the New Media Services team returned to work amid the pandemic, working hard to deliver the new website.
As with all new websites, there are some growing pains. The website team of two, Aaron Cormier and Sean Nurse, have seen, read, managed endless troubleshooting and technical issues, and migrated more than 30,000 pages of content in the last two years! They are the go-to resource for all things website. I am grateful to them and New Media Services director John Zubrovich for undertaking this arduous task. Please bear with them as they make the necessary adjustments and tweaks over the next few months to bring the new website to its full potential.
These critical launches are transformative milestones for Downstate and will enable us to educate, discover, heal, and empower. We are proud that SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a leader of diverse, culturally-competent education, research, clinical care, and the model for health equity.
We premiered Downstate’s new brand, logo, and website, including two interactive activities that enhanced the celebration and encouraged campus-wide participation. The signature wall, an eight-foot-tall backdrop, gave everyone a chance to be part of Downstate history by signing their names and leaving congratulatory messages. The mosaic wall captured the portraits of students, staff, and faculty, filling in faces where they were morphed into one graphic element. The complete image represents “ingenuity,” which best captures the Downstate promise, vision, and mission.
These new elements of our identity cast an authentic spotlight on what we do and who we are. These experiences are captured thoughtfully, revealing the Downstate community’s core and commitment to everyone who comes here for education, patient care, or who are working in their particular roles.
The brand campaign and the new website are the most significant undertaking for Downstate and set the foundation for sustained future efforts. There will be a series of advertisements throughout Brooklyn in the next few weeks, telling everyone about Downstate and additional media opportunities to extend the campaign’s reach.
I am grateful for this new and exciting chapter for Downstate and look forward to upholding our new brand identity. To learn more about the process of the branding campaign, you can view the entire presentation here.