Frequently Asked Questions


On August 12, Mount Holyoke College rolled out a new brand identity and marketing campaign: never fear / change. We asked all alumnae to join the #neverfearchange conversation via social media and you are! In the coming months, we will be rolling out additional ways to have your voice heard. As with all things new and bold, some of you love it, some of you question it, and some of you are going to wait and see if it grows on you. Here, we answer your most pressing questions about the never fear / change branding campaign.

Q: How was the brand developed? Were alumnae consulted?
A: The brand is a result of more than a year of research, including alumnae focus groups and surveys, and creative work to identify a distinctive positioning statement in an increasingly competitive higher education landscape. We also consulted with alumnae experts in the field of marketing and communications throughout the process. Put simply, we challenged the MHC community to create a bold and powerful brand that would make constituencies worldwide take notice and be inspired. Read the press release.
Q: Is this brand just a warm up for going coed?
A: No. Mount Holyoke is not going coed. The new brand is about Mount Holyoke’s promise to prepare students to face the future with confidence—while touting the accomplishments of alumnae who are already making change in the world in ways both big and small. The brand reflects MHC’s commitment to continuing to educate bright, ambitious women who are changemakers.
Q: What’s with the slash in never fear / change?
A: The power of the slash is that it is unusual, makes people pause and think, and has multiple meanings. It can mean: “Never fear change.” or “Never fear. Change.” When it was tested with hundreds of prospective students they responded very favorably, interpreting it to mean a range of things including “move beyond your comfort zone” and a celebration of change, “an inescapable feature of life that has too often been cause for anxiety and misgivings.” Alumnae involved in the process also responded positively, saying that the brand truly sets MHC apart from its peers. Thus, while the slash signals some ambiguity, we feel that, like poetry, it is evocative and powerful. Read about the evolution of the slash.
Q: Why would you include both fear and never in a promotional campaign? It seems negative.
A: The campaign is based on a great deal of market research. In short, MHC is promising to prepare our students to face the future with confidence. We are using the brand expression, never fear / change because it acknowledges that the world can be a scary and unjust place, but that MHC gives you agency in your life and in the world. We also know that we can tell the story of how alumnae are making bold change in the world in countless ways—because the essence of this brand is much more than a tagline. Based on our research with prospective students and parents, guidance counselors, alumnae, faculty, and staff, we are confident the campaign will work well for Mount Holyoke.
Q: I don’t use social media. How do I join the conversation?
A: Over the coming months, we will offer multiple ways for alumnae to participate in the brand campaign discussion. Social media is the most immediate, but it will be followed by prompts in email, on the College and Association websites, and in the Alumnae Quarterly magazine, and by conversations at the hundreds of alumnae gatherings and events that happen worldwide each year. Above all, we want to hear about how you and your classmates are making change for good and going where others will not:

» Read the press release about the new brand

» Watch the never fear / change video

» Follow the hashtag #neverfearchange on Twitter

25 responses to “Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Claude du Granrut '48 says:

    Indeed, fear is a strong word Which may induce the end of something we loved. I do not think it is the case. It has to be read with “Change”. It is also a strong word open to the needs of the new generations which is what we should have in mind to make them “uncommun women” for the time they will live.

  2. Cone 2005 says:

    Change exists. It is neither positive nor negative. It is HOW the individual reacts to or enacts change that makes her an Uncommon Woman.

    The only result this campaign has is to make me increasingly skeptical about what changes the administration is proposing for the future.

  3. Barbara Mulvehill Gray'55 says:

    My first thought: this must be a generational thing – I was totally turned off by the slogan. But then, It was comforting to see the negative comments from a whole range of classes – including more recent ones.
    I do not think it puts MHC in a positive light. I can’t imagine it will be a positive recruitment tool. Please rethink using it!

  4. Laura Ascari '57 says:

    As an uncommon woman, I fear this change.

  5. Bea Szekely '62 says:

    That the College administration is convinced Mount Holyoke needs to re-brand itself through such a campaign seems sad somehow, but a sign of the times. Let’s hope for great results. Is the faculty really behind this?

  6. Kate H says:

    Like many of the previous commenters, my first thought was: “Is MHC trying to warm us up to going coed?” My second thought was: “Why the slash?” I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy, proud-of-my-college feeling from the new brand. From reading the FAQs, I now understand the thoughts behind it, but unless you want everyone to read the FAQs, I don’t think we should go forward with it.

    Please don’t make this the new ‘brand’!
    ’06 Alum

  7. suzanne Eberson Adams says:

    This slogan does not say what the college does, which is that it fosters, supports and encourages fearless, intelligent women.

  8. Laura Gross Smith says:

    Still reading this as never fear never change…not making much sense to me…sorry…Laura FP11

  9. Phyllis Altrogge '57 says:

    Very trendy! However, invoking an unqualified call for “change” implies a rejection of our history and traditions. Yes, the future must welcome change, but we need also to have a decent respect for continuity with our past.

  10. E. Scott says:

    I like the idea of not fearing change, but that’s not what this new “brand” (we’re calling this a “brand”? ew!) says to me. The slash makes that makes the slogan ambiguous is not what I would call “thought provoking”; I’m stopping to think because I’m confused, not inspired- very different feelings! The ambiguity makes it unclear and therefore NOT a powerful statement.
    I also want to echo something another person posted: Were we fearful before? Were we not changing?
    We want our new students and our legacy to be that of capable women prepared to tackle a difficult world. This slogan looks like a failed attempt to appeal to the millennials, much like my mother still texting me in netspeak.

    Very disappointed. How much did this lame new slogan cost us?

    • Boots Whitmer '70 says:

      I, too, would like to know how much the campaign cost! With so many talented alumnae and undergraduates, why not put it out to a contest first? And then a vote for the winner from the finalists?

  11. Susan Auty '66 says:

    Count me among the naysayers. My first thought: Oh no! MHC is thinking about going coed again. My second thought (on being assured that coeducation was not a hidden agenda): Oh dear, the marketing folk have done it again. Shades of New Coke and other heavily researched changes. As a former researcher myself, I know how important the questions are–their framing, their wording and their assumptions. Those assumptions do not seem to be based on the College we know and love. I just can’t associate MHC with this slogan (or even the idea of having a slogan!).

  12. Boots Whitmer '70 says:

    Let’s make some suggestions for a better marketing campaign slogan. Here are some of mine:
    Mount Holyoke: The art and science of uncommon women
    Mount Holyoke: Educating and inspiring uncommon women in three centuries
    Mount Holyoke: The mother of all educated women
    Mount Holyoke: Uncommon women: past, present and future
    I’m sitting here thinking about the dubious new slogan and putting myself in the shoes of parents looking at the college for their daughter. What parent wants to put her talented daughter into an institution whose slogan includes the word “fear”? A parent is hoping for her daughter to be inspired, enhanced, improved and any other positive term one can come up with. They may not want their daughter changed because they know that change cuts both ways, both good and bad. A simply terrible marketing slogan.

  13. kw crosby says:

    Somebody really missed the boat on the way to that slogan — the primary meaning of the slash in English is “OR”. “Never fear or change” sounds like some sort of demented neo-con philosophy.

  14. Christabel Daly Choi '90 says:

    Not Loving it. I hear, “Never fear, xyz is here!” Or “never change.” Were we fearful? Or not changing? I don’t get it. It looks like a text message with not enough auto-correct. Will try to get used to the change, if it is on all the handouts for prospectives, but I expect to do quite a bit of explaining, or apologizing. Would like the new “brand” to change. Isn’t branding for cattle?

  15. Such a disappointing campaign — ambiguous, “millennial,” unfocused. I’m more deeply concerned about what seems like several years of grasping at different tactics and techniques to address institutional health of the College. What, really, would be the meaningful impact of seeing “#neverfearchange” become a top-trending hashtag? How does that strengthen the quality of the liberal arts education young women are receiving, or the quality of the women who apply to and are accepted at Mt. Holyoke?

  16. 1st reaction fr local alum I’ve contacted is a visceral reaction to the word “FEAR” printed out in large bold letters! re: the word ‘CHANGE’. I don’t think any Class of ’76ers (and even more so, women fr my mother’s class of 1938) went thru MHC + decades of life experience w/out quite a lot of “Change” to adapt to (& embrace!) quietly (or boldly!) in response to life’s circumstances. Like somehow we haven’t been bold, and so we are being told how to act… Dislike… Eileen Murray Lyon ’76

  17. Mary G Dietz says:

    The only thought this provokes in me is that this slogan is evidently the brainchild (using “brain” guardedly here) of a cadre of marketing and communications specialists for whom identities are nothing more than “brands,” colleges nothing more than “products,” and higher educational values and commitments nothing more than “positionings” geared toward fundraising “campaigns.” The upshot — “never fear/change” — is cliched (“changemakers”?), vacuous and incoherent — it says nothing about Mount Holyoke unfortunately, but plenty about the culture and vocabulary of “fear” the pervades contemporary US political discourse. And, really, aren’t there some kinds of “change” to which we should respond with palpable alarm, serious thinking, and critical acumen? Evidently, in branding world the challenges of climate change aren’t on the agenda; nor are the changes in US global surveillance technologies that are currently eating away at civil and political liberties around the world. That faculty, students, and alumnae of Mount Holyoke grapple with issues that make change a problem is a given; that this “brand” insults our knowledge, our practices, and our intelligence is a given too. Get rid of it.

    • Fear is a very useful instinct. There’ve been several situations in my life where I should’ve listened to my ‘fear’ instinct, but instead went boldly where I should not have gone, and suffered some traumatic consequences. Just saying…

  18. Boots Whitmer '70 says:

    Vacuous! Epic Fail! Sounds like a reject slogan from Obama’s re-election campaign. Says NOTHING. Whatever happened to “uncommon women”? Very disappointed.

    • Mary Phinney says:

      hear, hear Boots.

      How about something more forward looking? OK, change is good…toward what end? Without more, this leads us nowhere. Bring back the Uncommon women!

  19. Theresa Fregoso '00 says:

    Sorry, dislike immensely. First glance makes it look it is saying, “never fear, never change”. I in no way get out of it the examples listed above. I even read the article about the evolution of the slash mark, and I have yet to see / replacing a comma in anything I have read on the internet. Of course my interactions with people just out of high school is limited, I do interact with college students on a regular basis as they intern in our office, and I don’t see them using punctuation like this either.

  20. Amanda Zehnder says:

    I like the new branding campaign and slogan. I think it is very thought-provoking. And, like others, I’m very relieved to know it is not leading up to MHC going co-ed. I’m happy that this set of frequently asked questions addresses that concern.

    Amanda Zehnder ’97

  21. Jennifer Johnston '90 says:

    It did strike fear in my heart that this branding slogan was part of a move to send us into the co-ed realm. I’m glad to read it is not. Here’s to the next generation of strong, talented MHC women!

  22. This is a brilliant positioning line!

    Warmest congratulations to the genius(es) who thought it up!

    Sherry Christie ’68