Rebranding and new logo cost more than money
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 04:09
If you’re in the mood for an online scavenger hunt, start with the UCCS website and try to spot the different versions of the university logo.
In the past seven years, UCCS has had three logos. The latest, a collaboration between the CU Office of the President, University Advancement, Chancellor’s Office and external marketing partner Kyle Blakely, was introduced at the first Chancellor’s Forum on Aug. 28.
The new logo is an outline of the pipe-like black and gold text from the former logo. The background with the mountains and blue sky has been cut, as it doesn’t match CU branding.
“You can blame me if you don’t like it,” Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak was quoted as saying in Communique, the faculty and staff website.
“But this change makes economic sense, is preferred by students, and puts us more in alignment with the CU System. Those are strong reasons to change.”
“Economic sense” means the new logo sells better in the bookstore and is less expensive to reproduce than the former logo. Of the chancellor’s reasons, this is the only compelling one.
How does Shockley-Zalabak know that students prefer the new logo? To our knowledge, no one has done any sort of questionnaire or survey of students to actually find out what we prefer.
Aligning with the CU system is also not a compelling reason to rebrand. CU shouldn’t play into each UCCS decision, branding-related or otherwise.
Even though UCCS is a satellite school, it’s not a miniature CU. UCCS should strive to develop its own identity, not be pressured into adopting anyone else’s.
Also, while the new logo may save or earn money long term, various expenses are associated with rebranding. From a local perspective, we’ve learned that those expenses don’t always reflect the effort (or lack thereof) involved in creating the new logo itself.
Last year, both CU and the city of Colorado Springs had disastrous rebranding projects. CU spent $780,000 to add a gray box and change its font.
Colorado Springs, meanwhile, spent $111,000 and ended up with a design slapped together on Kid Pix. Fortunately, the latter farcewas reversed due to community backlash, though the fiscal irresponsibility remains.
Unlike CU, UCCS did not hire an outside firm to design its new logo. According to Jeff Foster, University Advancement multimedia marketing coordinator, the logo was designed internally to minimize costs.
Foster also said there will be no immediate orders for the former logo to be replaced. Instead, the university will gradually update products as they’re reordered. The former logo will be phased out within two years.
The plan is for select items, such as letterheads on documents ordered from the Copy Center and viewbooks sent to prospective students, to be updated within a year.
Other items, like the light pole banners, will be up for two to five years before new ones are ordered, but according to Foster, the old ones will still be used elsewhere on campus.
While no estimate was available for how much rebranding efforts will cost, some aspects can easily be tabulated based on the Copy Center’s pricing.
The Copy Center sells 250 colored, single-sided business cards for $45. According to the 2012-2013 viewbook, UCCS has 10,183 enrolled students and an 18:1 student/teacher ratio.
So, assuming every instructor places an order, $25,000 will be spent for business cards alone. That may seem unlikely, but even if only half of the university’s instructors order, that’s still almost $13,000.
Granted, instructors can make their existing business cards last for more than two years, but there is still a cost associated with the integration.
Business cards are just some of the smaller items to be rebranded, too. Logos on buses, bus stops, stationary, banners – rebranding everything will eventually incur more costs.
And even if rebranding costs are gradual and responsibly managed, UCCS is still in the process of being molded in CU’s likeness. (Though thankfully we haven’t gone back to the label “CU The Springs,” a branding stint in 1990s).
While it may be nearly imperceptible, the change is enough for us to question the university’s fiscal responsibility as well as where CU’s influence begins on our campus – and where it will end.