It started with Charlie Hoffman.

Newly appointed as dean of the College of Business Administration, Hoffman wanted to enhance the identity of the college by better connecting the college to the overall University of Missouri–St. Louis brand.

“It made us smile,” said Ron Gossen, UMSL’s chief marketing officer. “The marketing team had been discussing for nearly two years ways to approach the academic units about simplifying and consolidating their visual identities. Charlie is a retired CEO with 37 years of marketing and public relations experience. He understood the intrinsic value of consolidating the brands.”

Thus, the old moniker COBA was replaced with UMSL | Business.

“The change is simple and powerful,” Hoffman said. “You no longer need to explain what COBA means. The connection; the identity is immediate. We’re UMSL | Business.”

The new tag UMSL | Business and accompanying visual identity standards introduced this spring were well received by the college’s faculty and alumni, he said.

New visual identity campaign

Click the image to enlarge.

It also caught the attention of Chancellor Thomas George and Provost Glen Cope. The duo – along with other vice chancellors and vice provosts – have concurred such that similar identity standards should be adopted by all academic and service units.

“The academic deans have been very receptive to the concept, as well as most center and service unit directors,” Gossen said. “We’re working with each individual unit to provide them with a visual identity that is consistent with the concept and in formats for print and digital applications.

“This will strengthen our position with prospective students and in the eye of the general public,” he said. “Each view of every UMSL entity reinforces the overall quality of the university brand. Importantly, the UMSL brand also provides a ‘halo’ effect for the units. Audiences will be better able to connect the collective breadth and quality of this institution.”

Over the next three months, more than 70 units will each receive an average of 40 files in formats such as JPEG and EPS and in approved campus colors to use in myriad print or digital projects.

“We have the graphic artists in UMSL Marketing & Communications working overtime,” Gossen said. “But it’s worth the extra effort.”

For more information, contact Jackie Schlarman, assistant director of marketing & communications, at 314-516-5429. Or email

Bob Samples

Bob Samples

Bob Samples is associate vice chancellor for university communications at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.