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Faith at the Helm: The Ensign College Rebranding Story

Have you ever wondered how Ensign College got its name? In 2020, the former LDS Business College received a new name, Ensign College. The new name, full of symbolism and meaning, was chosen because of the Church’s renewed emphasis on using the full name of the Church. With a new name, a complete rebranding was necessary. It wasn’t an easy or quick process, but the Lord guided each step of the way.

John Moore, Ensign College’s former Creative Director, was deeply involved in this process. He talked to us about how “Ensign” was chosen and the spiritual guidance the team received. His story and testimony tell of divine guidance, creativity, and discipleship.

The Power Within the Name

John told us about the intricate process of selecting "Ensign" as the college’s new name. The team working on the process was composed of General Authorities and Ensign College employees. John recalls they had a lot of research to do before they could find a new name that would suit the college and its mission. “We researched the history of the college, the history of Church education, the history of all the names LDS Business College had. The list was extensive.” The team came up with hundreds of names, but the question remained: what name would reflect the institution's values and please the Lord?

John and his team knew they had a task that would not be accomplished without trusting the Lord and His guidance – after all, this college is an arm of His Church. “The mission statement [of the college] is key here. We thought, ‘this is a set-apart place that we want to be a place where discipleship can happen.’” With that thought in mind, Elder Robert C. Gay, a General Authority Seventy of the Church, suggested the name “Ensign College,” a name that reflects discipleship and history in many ways.

Ensign Logo

This choice was inspired by Ensign Peak, a hill in Salt Lake City not far from Ensign College. Traditionally, an ensign is a flag placed on a ship to indicate its nationality and origin. It can also be a symbol laden with meaning, signaling direction, unity, and identity.

Before coming to the Salt Lake Valley, the prophet Brigham Young “had a vision of Joseph Smith, who showed him the mountain that we now call Ensign Peak, immediately north of Salt Lake City, and there was an ensign fell upon that peak, and Joseph said, 'Build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace.’"1 When he arrived in the valley, President Young recognized the hill and knew they were in the right place. Later, he and a group of leaders climbed the hill because, as President Young said, it “was a proper place to raise an ensign to the nations”2 that would eventually gather in the valley. One member of the group waved a yellow handkerchief instead of a flag, and the hill was named Ensign Peak.

Since the name Ensign College was suggested, John couldn’t keep his mind off it. In more than one way, the pioneers’ and the students’ stories are intertwined in the heart of Salt Lake City. “To be an ensign” is a plea for students to be an example in all they do and stand up for what they believe, so their positive influence can help others find direction, much like what a country’s flag or ensign does for the people.

The Lord’s Hand in Each Step of the Way

The team that led the renaming and rebranding process prayed for the Lord’s guidance and direction in each step of the way. John shared with us one of his favorite moments while working on Ensign College’s new interior design with other professionals. He recalls that one day he had a prompting to go to the Church History Library to look for some art to be used in the building. There, he found a painting picturing Brigham Young and other pioneers at Ensign Peak. In that moment, John felt a personal connection with the story of this place and knew that they should display that piece of art in the school, so others could have a similar spiritual experience. “That felt like a moment when God was leading me to certain things. And that’s really how this whole process was.” John continues, “At the end of the day, the Lord was leading us along and teaching us so many things because we were showing our faith.” The painting, Brigham Young on Ensign Peak, by artist Valoy Eaton, is now one of the first things you see when coming into the building through its east entrance on the first floor, inspiring students who, like the pioneers, carry the torch of faith and determination.

Ensign peak

A Creative Rebranding

The rebranding of Ensign College was not a mere name change, but a creative journey that happened under the guidance of seasoned professionals. Along with the brand Ensign College, you might also recognize its mountain-themed sub-brands, The Summit and The Outpost. “The brand and the sub-brands were all dependent on the name Ensign and the symbolism that went with that,” John said. “It was very methodical and very intentional.” If you walk around campus today, you will see a modern yet welcoming design that revolves around mountains, topographic lines, and colors and fonts that make that symbolism cohesive.


John was also able to contribute in unique, personal ways to the process of rebranding. With some of his students, he designed and painted Ensign College’s mission statement mural on the first floor of the building. From conceptualizing the visual identity to bringing it to life through John’s artistic skills, to designing a logo that encapsulates the spirit of the institution, every step required thoughtful consideration.

An Ensign to All of Us

Just as the Lord guided the renaming and rebranding process from beginning to end, this journey becomes a metaphor for the divine guidance available to us if we allow it into our lives. John left powerful advice that has proven to be true in his own life. He said, “The only successes that I’ve had in my life are due to the times when God was able to get through to me and speak to me.” The careful consideration given to the name, the creative process, and the overall transformation of the institution parallel the way our lives can be guided when we seek spiritual direction. Ensign College stands not only as an educational institution but as a beacon, reminding us that meaningful changes, like a ship under an ensign, are orchestrated by a higher power.

Embracing the broader implications, this narrative becomes a testimony to the idea that as we trust in divine guidance, our lives can find a sense of purpose, unity, and belonging. As John says, “Include the Lord in everything you do, and it will yield incredible things.” With the ensign of faith and guidance before us, may we navigate the waters of life with confidence, knowing that the Lord is at the helm, steering us toward our ultimate destination.

1 George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–1886), 13:85. 
2 Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 16:207; Woodruff, “The Pioneers,” 253. 

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