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UB branding initiative looks to align university under one name

UB forming cohesive identity through university-wide branding strategies

branding

UB’s branding initiative is aiming to make the university a “distinctive brand.”

The strategy looks to unite all of UB’s schools and units around the “University at Buffalo” name and is focused on clearing up the longtime confusion about the university’s name, said Nancy Paton, vice president of university communications.

“If you think about it, some people call [the university] SUNY Buffalo, some people call it something else,” said President Satish Tripathi. “So from outside it’s pretty confusing so we really need to have a consistent plan for the campus so that when people say this is the University at Buffalo they know exactly what we’re talking about.”

The research process began roughly a year ago, and university officials provided an update on the initiative Tuesday.

UB hired Ologie, a Columbus-based marketing company that has teamed up with Marshall Strategy Inc., a San Francisco-based branding company, as the vendor for the project last year. UB is paying the firms a $314,000 contract for the initiative. The money for the contract came from investment funding – not students’ tuition, Paton told The Spectrum last year.

Paton said the university conducted extensive research and gathered input from UB alumni, students, community members, faculty and staff in order to build a framework of what makes UB a unique institution.

She said there are aspects as to what makes UB distinct and sets it apart as a university.

“Those unique attributes and those unique ways we do things set us apart and so telling the story in that way is going to be critical for really establishing an enhanced, strengthened reputation for the university and really telling the experiences as to what its like to be here and in Buffalo,” Paton said.

UB asked students their perceptions of the word “Buffalo” and they expressed a lot of pride and excitement for the renaissance of the city, according to Patton. The research included surveys and focus groups.

Paton said the university found that students preferred “University at Buffalo” when referring to the school formally and “UB” when referring to it informally.

The university extracted findings from the research and developed a framework that will convey the story of “all facets of the university” in signage, logos, UB’s website, photography, social media and brochures, according to Paton.

A major component of the strategy is based around the “Here is How” concept – a storytelling platform which looks to recognize UB as an institution that represents the university’s “unique personality.” Paton said the rebranding initiative looks to tell “inspirational and aspirational” stories about the university.

Student Association President Minahil Khan is one of the student representatives on the President’s Brand Council, which helped provide input on the branding strategy. She said from a student perspective, she was happy to hear that the “data makes sense.”

She said that in data yielded from the surveys, students really liked going to events like Fall Fest and International Fiesta and it seemed very reflective of her own experience or other students she has met.

The incoming SA executive board has begun its transition meetings on the branding initiative, according to Khan.

The university announced Tuesday that UB Athletics brand will also be changed due to the university-wide branding effort. The current UB Athletics’ “State University of New York Buffalo” wordmark will be changed to a “Buffalo Bulls” wordmark to more closely align athletics with the entire university’s brand.

The current mark proved controversial among fans and alumni due to its placement of the words “New York” in a more prominent position than the word “Buffalo.”

Paton noted the university will continue its affiliation with SUNY, despite the rebranding effort. UB Athletics will use the tagline “New York’s Public Powerhouse” in its marketing efforts for the athletics department.

Athletic Director Allen Greene said he feels it’s important for the university to have a “cohesive branding point” and that the university is equipped financially to undertake this endeavor.

UB’s Law School and School of Architecture and Planning will also be aligned under the official name of “University at Buffalo.”

Tripathi said the rebranding transition will be gradual and the university has no plans to hastily do away with old logos, letterheads and other materials.

Paton said the rebranding initiative will be a “long-term implementation.”

Ashley Inkumsah is a news desk editor and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.


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