New Look, New Logo for Columbia Theological Seminary

New Look, New Logo for Columbia Theological Seminary

By Michael K. Thompson, Director of Communications

Last fall, I was commissioned by the Board to facilitate the task of rebranding the seminary leading up to the development of a new website. From the start it was clear in our initial focus groups, that we were to communicate continuity with our history and vision for our future. We are a Presbyterian institution with a rich Reformed tradition, yet we are serving a more diverse set of students ethnically and denominationally than ever before. We are a modern institution with a commitment to justice and peace in the world, and our thought rooted in scripture.

Historically, Columbia Theological Seminary has had a seal with a globe, a cross, and a Bible, which we will continue to use on diplomas, official CTS seal
documents, and in other formal contexts.


Old CTS WordmarkMore commonly, we have used the two-tone, three-line wordmark for most things.

Branding is a comprehensive process that encompasses both verbal and visual messages we wish to communicate to all of our current and future friends and supporters. A primary focal point of branding is often the logo. Other elements of branding include tagline, marketing messages, choice of photography, and the general look and feel of our communications pieces. All of these have been reviewed as part of a comprehensive process, but for now I would like to introduce our new logo and wordmark!

cs-logo(See also the “reverse” logo image below.)

This logo represents our story: one that is both recognizable and unique. It is both beautiful and carries deep meaning:

  1. The most obvious feature is the bush or tree. This has been a symbol of Presbyterian and Reformed movements used around the world including both Presbyterian Churches which merged to form the current PC(USA). At the same time, trees have been used as symbols of ecumenical efforts reflective of our commitment to the Big Table.
  2. Next we see the book in the middle. We are a seminary committed to both “books” of revelation: the book of scripture and the book of creation. We have world-class bible scholars who are leading the way in connecting the biblical knowledge with the truths of science, justice, and other outcomes of the good news that touch our daily lives.
  3. In our original idea session, the structure of the logo emerged from a combination of ideas representing our existing seal and the Kenyan cross with angled arms which appears on the side of the Broyles Leadership Center (in the banner above). It was suggested that the open arms of the cross could be represented and then doubled to give the appearance of a bible in the center of the logo.
  4. Finally, the beauty of the logo reflects the retreat-like atmosphere we have here on our Decatur campus. Every visitor I have ever brought here has commented how privileged I am to work in this beautiful place. In fact, the three of the top reasons students come to Columbia are the faculty, the community, and the beautiful campus.


But a logo cannot do everything! Branding is about the whole picture and the message it conveys. We are additionally recommending a new tagline: Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.

This will be accompanied by some core messages about what we do: Encountering God. Cultivating leaders. Transforming communities.

All of this will come together in our press releases, our stationery, our magazine, our recruitment materials, and most importantly our new website which is due to be launched in August. This has been a big process, but I believe the investment of our resources will be well rewarded.

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One thought on “New Look, New Logo for Columbia Theological Seminary”

  1. Great work! In Peace, Kristin

    Sent from my iPhone


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