Why Branding is Important to The University of Florida
Branding is an investment in the future; it is an investment in the university’s future ability to compete effectively for students, faculty, staff, and funding.
A brand is not a name, a logo, a product or a tag line. It is a relationship – one that exists between an entity and its constituency, i.e., a company and its customers. In the private sector, companies spend billions each year establishing, growing and protecting their brands, because they know that stronger brands consistently out-perform weaker ones.
The same applies to the academic world. Universities must continually compete for the best faculty, staff and students in order to remain viable. We do not operate in a vacuum. Our peers all market aggressively and most have their own branding campaigns. The reality is that the most recognizable institutions consistently attract the best students, staff and faculty as well as secure the most funding, gain the greatest accolades, and receive the most recognition by the media. All of these are critical factors in the health, growth and overall long-term success of an institution.
The Gator Nation Branding Campaign
Our branding campaign began in September, 2005, and its impact has been dramatic and far-reaching. For example, the public relations component of the campaign generates more than 880 million media impressions each year for the University of Florida, a 40% increase over the best year prior to the launch of the new campaign. This impressive showing consistently places UF in the top five universities in terms of media exposure.
The public relations and media efforts are focused on academics, research and discovery, our history and traditions, and our sustainability efforts. Stories have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Science Magazine, Nature, and more. On television, our stories have appeared locally and nationally on ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS, to name just a few.
Our national advertising efforts have earned recognition from prestigious organizations such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Marketing Association, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Public Relations Society of America, and the Florida Public Relations Association.
University of Florida institutional television ads appear at no charge during every local, regional, or nationally televised sporting event in which Gator athletic teams participate. They appear on the rebroadcast of UF athletic events, coaches shows, Gator Zone and more. The value of this “free” advertising is estimated to exceed $4 million. UF TV ads are also normally aired in nearly every major television market throughout Florida as part of an annual media buy. As a part of the campaign, print ads featuring the University of Florida also appear in publications such as Smithsonian, Scientific American, New Yorker, Harpers, Chronicle of Higher Education and Florida Trend. These publications are read by opinion leaders within business, government and higher education on a regular basis.
A Web site also supports the campaign with news, photos, the latest Gator videos and stories… and more.
Internal Communications and Identity Standards
The University of Florida branding campaign also brought a stepped-up internal communications program to campus. The program is designed to reach out to students, faculty and staff with news of interest via a printed Inside UF newsletter and an online web site. In addition, a refreshed UF logo has helped increase the visibility and awareness of the University, while creating a more consistent look for our campus publications, signage, letterhead and business cards.