Student Organizations Face Branding Difficulties

By Viola Brown, Staff Writer

Above is the CIP's Hamo Hornet, part of the College's rebranding efforts.

StuComm''s Unit Stamp Logo that was reluctantly used on their sweaters. StuComm is among less than a dozen student organizations that are brand compliant.

Since declaring their brand compliance a year ago, Student Commission has faced problems while trying to design their new sweaters. Usually, when Senior Commissioner Kari Paine makes t-shirts she designs the logo, gets the sizes and sends in the order, and the whole process takes about two weeks. This time around, she started the process in mid-summer and didn’t receive the shirts until last Monday, Nov. 4.

“We had originally pitched the sweaters as this one time large payment, and from then on, we would get sweaters for new commissioners… so we ran into funding issues and going through the Communications Office we ran into a lot of hurdles,” said Paine.

She had to change the design, and with every change she had to go to the Communications Office and wait for someone to get back to her.

When student organizations decide to be brand compliant they have three options for their apparel: the unit stamp, the Hamo/Hana, or the create your own design, which has to be redone after one year.

This was a problem for StuComm, who wanted to have a consistent logo for many years while also showing their distinction from other campus organizations and departments. Eventually, Paine settled for the unit stamp logo.

“Branding is great,” Paine admits. “It’s a wonderful, tool but they have to understand that we are students and this restricts our creativity and creates a sense that you are policed all the time and that nothing is safe.”

Jim Van Sweden, the Director of College Communications, says that student organizations can choose if they want to be brand compliant, and out of the over 70 organizations, under a dozen of them are. He also notes that while student organizations have a choice, other departments on campus do not.

“When choosing to be brand compliant, organizations are choosing visual consistency with the College’s visual identity,” said Van Sweden.

The College started this marketing plan about two years ago because they are in a competitive market with the thousands of colleges in the country.

“The type of students we attract had options, they could of gone anywhere else but they decided to come here.” Van Sweden said, “Over a period of time, visual consistency can be a powerful symbol. Logos are very important, that’s why Coca-Cola hasn’t changed its logo in years.”

While Paine understands why branding is important to the College, she wishes that they would improve upon certain aspects.

“First and foremost, the Communications Office needs to clarify things. They did try to make a one-page write-up, but I don’t know how effective it is…they need to specify some guidelines.”

Van Sweden urges students and organizations who are struggling with issue to come to the Communications Office and speak with him so that he can provide help. Their offices are located on the third floor of Mandelle Hall.