Organizational identities serve as fundamental building blocks to effective communication of an organization’s set of values and beliefs. At this time, when it is much more difficult for institutions, like liberal arts colleges, to market themselves to an audience, it is imperative that organizations use effective and ethical rhetorical techniques in order to communicate compelling organizational identities. In the past, the identities of liberal arts colleges have been researched in terms of written brochures and pamphlets. The purpose of this study was to further research by rhetorically analyzing the websites of three small liberal arts colleges. Through the use of visual analysis, I determined that colleges use themes of quantitative quality, presence: collapsing distance, and diversity in order to communicate their identities to prospective students and encourage them to apply to their schools. Quantitative quality combines two loci of argumentation, one favoring statistics supporting “more is better” and the other emphasizing the value of the unique. Presence pertains to the ability of the school to aid in prospective student visualization of themselves at an institution. Diversity, in the literature, uses strategic ambiguity to appeal to a wide variety of students.


Singh, Rohini


Communication Studies


Organizational identity, liberal arts colleges, visual analysis, websites, recruitment, strategic ambiguity

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Kaitlin P. Bradshaw