The SUNY Cortland Brand

SUNY Cortland has articulated a brand identity to help strengthen our institutional reputation.

This communication guide provides key elements of the brand identity to unify our message as we share the SUNY Cortland story, one that will remain vibrant when told and reinforced in a clear, professional and consistent fashion.

Brand Essence

The SUNY Cortland brand is much more than our logo, tagline, graphic designs, publications, etc. Our brand is our story, our reputation and all the associations that everyone makes with our College. The essence of our brand is how people react when they hear the words “SUNY Cortland.”

Elements of the Brand

To help audiences understand and connect with SUNY Cortland, all messages have to work together. A number of key elements must be integrated throughout all of our communications.

The more consistently we apply these elements to our publications, webpages, presentation materials, speeches, advertisements and conversations, the stronger the SUNY Cortland brand will be identified by our audiences.

The key elements that must be integrated into our communications include:

  • Theme and tagline
  • Name and colors
  • College Logo
  • Department/Program Logos
  • Typefaces/Fonts
  • Language
  • Photography/Imagery


A theme has been developed to succinctly convey our brand essence. It may be explicitly expressed in communication materials or, more often, serve as the premise for the message(s) being communicated.

Theme: Momentum

A single overriding theme — Momentum — characterizes the energy and vibrancy of the College and identifies SUNY Cortland as active and engaging.

There is a powerful association that accompanies the momentum theme — that of excitement, energy, dynamic learning and living, and forward moving — all very real trademarks of the SUNY Cortland experience.

Our momentum as an institution in turn contributes to the momentum of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and larger Cortland community. “Momentum” clarifies and communicates the high-value essence of the Cortland brand.


Seize the Moment, Feel the Momentum

A tagline has been developed to encourage and challenge audiences to a personal experience; to take advantage of an opportunity and capture a special moment(s) associated with SUNY Cortland, whether a prospective student or employee, a donor or alumnus, a current student engaging in campus life, or a community member participating in a campus event.

The audience comes first in the tagline, both literally and figuratively, followed by the invitation to be a part of the SUNY Cortland experience. “Moment” also comes first in the spelling of our theme “Momentum."

Tagline Usage

Please contact the Marketing Office at 607-753-2519 for consultation and guidance regarding tagline usage.

The tagline will be used only for sales and promotional materials. It may be used by itself or in conjunction with the College logo.

The tagline “Seize the Moment Feel the Momentum” can be produced without the logo so long as it conforms to the following rules:

  • To maintain the visual separation in the tagline, it will always be produced in two colors with the words “Seize the Moment” always appearing in black.
  • "Feel the Momentum" can appear in red, white or grey.
  • The font should be Americana Bold or Agenda Bold.

Tagline Placement with College Logo

The following graphic demonstrates the tagline placement within the College logo. The light blue lines are guides only and are not part of the actual logo. When using the tagline with the logo, the combined height should be no less than one inch.

Tagline in Logo Placement

Taglines and Promotional Messages

“Seize the Moment, Feel the Momentum” is the only tagline approved for use in promoting SUNY Cortland and its programs. Taglines and slogan creation is strongly discouraged. In most cases, a strategic marketing approach will provide better results and more flexibility.

Exceptions may be made in the case of short-term College-wide initiatives. These messages must be submitted to the Marketing Committee for approval and must include proposed text and/or graphic elements and a plan for distribution and expiration of the promotion. Each initiative must meet brand and editorial style guidelines and have a hard expiration date before being considered.

Brand Promise

A brand promise concisely states what we, as an institution, promise to our constituents. The brand promise serves as a behind-the-scenes guide for all of our marketing efforts. The SUNY Cortland promise statement, developed from campus community input and research findings, summarizes the core values and characteristics of the College.

Our Brand Promise

“The SUNY Cortland community inspires students by delivering a high-value education that develops the skills they require to compete and excel in academics, athletics and their careers.”

Inspiring Community

The SUNY Cortland community — faculty, staff, administration, alumni and local leaders alike — inspires students to reach their full potential, to dig deeper, to reach higher and to achieve more. We provide students with the support and encouragement they need to advance all aspects of their lives — mind, body, spirit, personal and professional.

High-Value Education

SUNY Cortland offers an affordable education and breadth of programs, combined with a track record of excellent outcomes and successful alumni, resulting in a high-value education. Our ranking by Kiplinger’s, U.S. News and World Report and Consumers Digest as a “top/best value” institution of higher learning among public colleges and universities is a further testament to our promise of providing a high-value educational experience.

Development of Skills

Our campus community takes good students and turns them into great students and dynamic graduates. Faculty and staff apply extraordinary care, concern and commitment to respective assignments, all with the students’ best interests at the core. We provide students with opportunities to rise to the top.

Brand Attributes

Brand attributes communicate the ways in which we achieve what we promise. They are the essential characteristics of SUNY Cortland that our communications will showcase at every opportunity.

From the president’s speeches to capital campaign materials, from faculty position advertisements in The Chronicle of Higher Education to recruitment brochures, from hometown news and sports releases to campus signage, representations of these attributes in words, phrases and photos should be used purposefully and liberally.

Our goal is to have SUNY Cortland’s audiences equate these attributes with the College and equate the College with these attributes.

Distinctive attributes represent the extraordinary and unique characteristics that make SUNY Cortland distinctive from other institutions. 

Attributes (distinctive in red italics)

  • Affordable
  • Athletic excellence
  • Belonging
  • Centrally located
  • Champion (noun and verb)
  • Community
  • Community service/service-learning
  • Continuous improvement
  • Exceptional campus experience
  • Extraordinary value
  • Friendly
  • Hands-on learning
  • High-quality faculty
  • Inclusive
  • Outstanding academics
  • Quality of student life
  • Social conscience
  • Supportive
  • Teacher education
  • Well-rounded students

Examples of Distinctive Attributes and Corresponding Story Topics

Athletic Excellence  

Leadership development, high standards and record of excellence, the discipline, dedication, time management and balance involved, team orientation, the academic and athletic accomplishments of our student athletes, SUNY/national records and rankings, awards earned, successful alumni, facilities, etc.


As a noun: Student leaders, award-winning students, faculty and staff, scholarship, Honors Convocation, Honors Program, Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference, published authors, grant recipients, successful alumni, athletic prominence, etc.

As a verb: Peer mentors, faculty mentors, civic engagement, service-learning, volunteer organizations, social cause organizations, leading researchers, etc.

Hands-on Learning

Study abroad, internships, research with faculty, Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference, community service, civic engagement, service-learning, practicum/student teaching, independent study, volunteer organizations, clubs and organizations, the Parks Family Outdoor Center, etc.

Teacher Education

Breadth of certification areas, history and tradition, alumni accomplishments, student teaching options in New York state and abroad, pass rates on certification exams, leaders and innovators in the field, impact on education profession and educating youth, etc.

Quality of Student Life 

Highly rated health and counseling services, increased diversity, internationalizing the campus, more than 100 clubs and organizations, new and renovated residence halls, arts and cultural events (CALS), recreational sports and fitness facilities, the Health Fair and Community Bike Program, dining options, etc.


Language is a powerful tool in communicating the SUNY Cortland message, particularly in our print and online communications.

By consistently incorporating messages that support the College’s initiatives and brand attributes, we reinforce to our audiences what we are doing and how they will benefit from a SUNY Cortland education and experience.

The tone or “voice” of all communication materials — particularly the College website, the Viewbook, alumni and advancement materials — should be consistent.

The tone can be serious, contemplative and inspirational so that the reader is encouraged to reflect on his or her life while considering how SUNY Cortland will change and enhance it.

The SUNY Cortland Name

The official, acceptable names for the College are SUNY Cortland and State University of New York College at Cortland.

Unacceptable names include:

  • C-State
  • Cortland College
  • Cortland State
  • Cortland State University
  • State University at Cortland
  • State College at Cortland
  • State University of New York at Cortland
  • SUC
  • S.U.C.C.
  • SUC-Cortland
  • SUNY College at Cortland
  • S.U.N.Y. Cortland
  • SUNY-Cortland


Our College has been known by various names since its founding in 1868. For the first 75 years of its existence, the institution was called the Cortland Normal School, a shortened version of its official title — The New York State Normal and Training School at Cortland.

In 1942, the New York Legislature officially changed the name to New York State Teachers College at Cortland, more popularly called Cortland State Teachers College. When the State University of New York (SUNY) was created six years later, the official name became the State University Teachers College, Cortland, New York, but Cortland State Teachers College (CSTC) and State University Teachers College (SUTC) remained the popular versions.

From 1959-61, the school briefly became the State University College of Education at Cortland (SUCE) before the SUNY Board of Trustees finally settled on State University College at Cortland (SUCC). Cortland State remained a widely used shortened version but was countered by the use of Cortland College in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Since 1996, the College has officially referred to itself as SUNY Cortland, a name that pays homage to the power of the State University of New York, the most comprehensive university system in the United States, as well as to the illustrious 140-year history of Cortland and its alumni, faculty, staff and students.

The College will continue to use SUNY Cortland exclusively as the shortened version of its full official name, State University of New York College at Cortland, to solidify the Cortland brand and to negate any public confusion that may arise from using multiple names to describe the same institution.