Cornell Engineering Case Study

The College of Engineering is a division of Cornell University that was founded in 1870 as the Sibley College of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanic Arts. Cornell Engineering is one of the highest-rated engineering schools in the Ivy League.



Cornell University is known worldwide as a prestigious school. However, in 2012 only 3% of the public noted the school’s highly competitive engineering program as a point of difference.  Share-of-mind historically tilted towards MIT, Stanford, Cal Berkeley, Georgia Tech and others. In the cacophony of academic noise, Cornell’s College of Engineering had no point of difference and no voice. 


The Siegelvision team launched a qualitative research program—interviewing students, faculty and recruiters. What surfaced was a visceral spirit of independence and determination that belied a 145-year-old institution — a need to “break the rules” that was engrained in students, faculty and alumni — but totally unknown outside the college.

That was about to change.

Breaking the rules — to do great things would become the centerpiece for a rebranding effort that would re-define how elite universities could position themselves.

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Response from students, alumni and faculty was immediate. 45,000 alumni actively participated in the launch. Over 100 “Breaking the rules” videos were contributed to a re-designed website. And in a follow up survey among key stakeholder groups including HS students, 77% of respondents placed Cornell in the “Top 10” of all engineering schools, and a remarkable 31% labeled it a “Top 5.”

In the words of Dean Lance Collins, “We are now part of the national conversation.”



Brand Positioning
Brand Purpose
Brand Voice
Visual Identity System
Web design


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