UAlbany planning for a renewed branding effort
By Madeline St. Amour
March 10, 2015
The University at Albany is seeking to streamline its identity.
While students organically adopted the acronym “UA” to represent UAlbany in the last few years, the University itself never officially recognized it, according to Jennifer Carron, the director of Marketing Services in the Office of Communications and Marketing.
The marketing team “is trying to shift the campus culture” away from the use of UA, Kristin Marshall, director of News and Communications, said.
“The reason is very simple. UA is used by a variety of organizations and businesses such as the University of Alabama, Under Armour, the University of Arizona [etc.],” Marshall said in a written statement. “When other names or references are used in print materials, on uniforms, and in speech, it looks like we don’t understand who we are.”
Suraj Commuri, the chair of the marketing department at UAlbany, said that the use of UA also ignores the University’s “New York identity.”
“That we belong to the state of New York and that we are a part of SUNY are our strengths and things to be proud of,” he said in an email. “Given that the New York identity is valued not just in the US but around the world, it is unfortunate that we currently do not showcase it.
Commuri also said that lately UAlbany has “not been as effective as [it] could have been in showcasing [its] many strengths” and “maintained a lower profile.” While that is not inherently bad, he said, broadcasting the University’s accomplishments more effectively could result in more donors and higher qualified student applicants.
Carron also mentioned that when searching for “UA” on social media, results from various institutions appear. This further dilutes UAlbany’s efforts to brand itself.
Because of this confusion, Carron said that the marketing department is trying to “tighten the reins” on how UAlbany is being represented.
This has caused trouble for some UAlbany students and groups. Albany Student Television (ATV) has two shows with UA in the name: “UA Overtime” and “UA Cribs.”
After directly being asked to change the name of a show the President of ATV, Spencer Pesce, said no, because the cost to change all of the materials would have been too great. Also, he didn’t think that the names sounded right when “UA” was replaced with “UAlbany.”
UAlbany has a Graphic Identity Manual available online that students and clubs can access to help the University maintain its brand, Carron said. The manual was launched in 2003 and last updated in 2011.
The manual lists what graphics are considered a part of UAlbany’s branding strategy, as well as provides logos and headers.
UAlbany is also looking to fill an empty space to boost their brand image. In 2013 the Vice President of Communications and Marketing left the position.
Robert J. Jones, the president of UAlbany, said that the university is looking for an experienced professional that can lead the University in its future marketing strategies.
“We are seeking an accomplished individual that will help us better define the resources and strategies needed to strengthen our institutional brand and share the vision of this great public research university with the world around us,” he said in an official statement.
Whoever fills the position would work closely with Jones to accomplish this goal.
According to Marshall, the person who gets this job will be responsible for “articulating the university’s vision to external and internal audiences.”
Commuri believes that these new changes in marketing could benefit UAlbany.
“If we have someone whose primary preoccupation will be to streamline our communication and branding, I believe there will be tremendous value,” he said. “If everyone around us hears the same message and that is the correct message, then the cost and effort required for us to keep building upon that starts to decline.”