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Capturing the essence of His Holiness’s visit

This summer’s teachings and public lecture by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Lehigh University has dozens of departments from across campus working feverishly to take advantage of the unparalleled educational opportunity the visit presents. Tying all of those efforts together in a common shorthand is a branding initiative developed for the occasion by designers and editors in the Office of University Relations.

With a tagline of “Listen • Learn • Love” and a logo that symbolically depicts the evocative “endless knot” of ancient Buddhist tradition, the initiative succinctly speaks both to what His Holiness represents and to Lehigh’s honored place as the host of his teachings and public lecture.

Graphic designer Michelle Boehm saw the endless knot on a Buddhist architectural relief in a book of signs and symbols, and the more she researched it, the more she was convinced that she could adapt it graphically into a meaningful depiction of His Holiness.

“It represents the infinite wisdom and compassion of the Buddha,” Boehm said. “Because the Dalai Lama is regarded as a living Bodhisattva, someone who’s come back to teach the way of Buddha to others, it’s the ultimate act of compassion.”

The knot’s never-ending path and its similarity to Celtic and Germanic symbols make it an accessible symbol for American audiences, she added. “For Western people, it’s easy to see what it would represent,” Boehm noted. “The connotation is there.”

The tagline was developed during a brainstorming session meant to capture His Holiness’s essential characteristics in a succinct yet substantive way.

“We looked at combinations of words that generally conveyed wisdom, compassion and generosity,” said Linda Harbrecht, university communications manager. “The words had to have meaning and convey the essence of the Dalai Lama’s talk on ‘Generating a Good Heart.’ Ultimately we decided upon “Listen • Learn • Love,” words that seem to encourage his audience to take his message to heart and employ those lessons in daily life.”

Says Bill Doherty, assistant editorial director, “this is a yearlong learning opportunity. That phrase (Listen • Learn • Love), we felt, resonated both with the spirit of His Holiness’s visit and with Lehigh’s mission.”

The graphic and text marks were approved by Lehigh President Alice P. Gast and Mr. Tashi Wangdi, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Office of Tibet, New York and will soon appear in print and digital materials related to the Dalai Lama’s visit.

--Tom Durso

Posted on Tuesday, April 01, 2008

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