But Scarborough says what UConn is doing isn’t a total rebranding, where a school “is trying to change what it stands for.”
“UConn isn’t changing its brand, it’s just changing its visual identity,” explains Scarborough, who doesn’t count Connecticut’s biggest school among her clients. She also believes it’s “beyond time they made the change” to “capture this brand.”
One creative director for a Connecticut-based marketing firm, who didn’t want to be identified because his company might be looking to get some UConn-related work, agrees with Scarborough.
“It’s going to cost,” he says, theorizing that the changes in signage could be the biggest expense. “You can pay up front, or you can pay over time.”
Reitz says the plan is to make those changes on a gradual basis, using a temporary cover with UCONN on it for most signs until it’s time for a regular repainting or upgrade. As for stationery and all the rest, Reitz says school officials will be expected to use up existing materials and, when new stuff is needed, it will be ordered with the new big UCONN word mark.
And not all of those signs will need replacement, since the school will still be using its traditional oak-leaf emblem and its official seal, both of which appear on lots of doors and signs.
The new look has already been installed on some buses and police cars, and those blocky letters have been used on the uniforms of various athletic teams for a while.
As for the new-look Jonathan logo, that may not be exactly free either.
“Nike’s not doing it out of the goodness of its heart,” points out Scarborough. She says she’s not sure how the financial arrangements are worked out, but that, “It has to be money for Nike.”
“The more popular UConn athletics get, the better it is for Nike,” she says, which after all makes some nice coin off all of that University of Connecticut-related sports apparel.
And a new look and logo probably means lots of fans will want to buy the new stuff, which isn’t likely to hurt Nike’s bottom sales line.
Muncy says the school’s co-op and other stores that have been selling old UConn stuff, “have known for months and months” that the look was going to be changed. So they’ve been trying to sell down their inventories and cut back on new orders until the revamped products are ready for shipment.
Somebody may still be taking some financial hits for that soon-to-be-out-of-date merchandise, points out the publicity-shy Connecticut marketing dude. “There’s going to be a loss,” he says, and the question is whose. “They [Nike] sell a lot of product across the country.” But that apparently won’t be the university’s problem.
What may trouble Herbst and her colleagues to some degree is the fan reaction to the fierce new Jonathan.
Initial comments on the UConn website weren’t exactly favorable.
“I don’t like it. I don’t think anybody likes it. Nobody likes it,” wrote Brian Hewitt.
“Get rid of it... nothing was wrong with the first one,” was the opinion of Tracy Mosher.
Bob Gigliotti’s comment was, “It’s horrible. Sold out to Nike.”
On the other hand, UConn’s strategists probably aren’t all that worried about the fans. They have bigger issues on their minds.
Herbst pointed out in her address that lots of important schools are now known by something other than their full formal titles. There’s MIT, and UCLA, and Pitt and Penn.
UConn may not be a laundry soap or cornflakes brand, as Herbst noted, but she insisted that “We still need to communicate what we do, why we do it, how we do it, and that we do it well.”
How simply changing the school’s “word mark” and the Husky logo is going to accomplish that isn’t exactly clear. According to Reitz, there’s no university budget “at this time for promotional activities.”
Maybe they could find a little promotional cash out of that extra $2 billion, if they get it.