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University ‘Unleashes Greatness’ with new brand

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The University at Albany is kicking off a new rebranding initiative this spring, focusing on the new tagline “Unleash Greatness,” which aims to promote the greatness that exists within the university and its community, according to senior University communication and marketing staff members.

The plans for the new brand, which initiated about two and a half years ago, have gone through rounds of professional consulting and advertising research, while also incorporating student, faculty, and alumni input and has been tailored to fit the messages and attitudes that the university adheres to.

The initiative, led by UAlbany’s Director of Marketing and Content Strategy Paul Miller, was strategically planned to enhance the university’s internal identity and increase satisfaction and recommendation levels among students and faculty.

These goals were based off the results and findings of McGuire Consulting LLC, which incorporated surveys and focus groups of about 250 campus community members.

These results indicated that the university had significant issues regarding student experience satisfaction, an inferiority complex within the school and the region, and overall campus pride.

“We wanted to find out what resonated with the students, because they are a primary audience for the campaign,” said Miller, addressing how students’ input was factored into rebranding choices. “It was invaluable to get their feedback.”

Miller continued, saying, “Our number one goal was to build pride on this campus, because we have a lot to be proud of at this university. Our message is that we have been great from the start.”

Zak Constantine, freshman Student Association senator from State Quad, recognized the University’s efforts to boost campus pride and satisfaction, but also expressed clear concerns with the University’s recent decisions.

“But I find it ironic how in encouraging students to unleash their greatness, they are suppressing a long standing student group’s ability to work in the way they have for decades,” referring to the University’s recent decision to evict the University Photography Service from their Campus Center office by the end of the semester.

The unveiling of the new brand was timed carefully, and the university felt that it was time to put the plan into action this spring after months of planning, according to Miller. “It’s been ten years since the university embarked on any sort of brand advertising.”

Miller also added that this initiative goes hand-in-hand with University President Havidan Rodriguez’s strategic plan for the university, which developed around the same time as the re-branding campaign. “We’ve had a number of Presidents in the last five years, so we wanted to make sure that we understood the priorities of the President.”

The university utilized two contracts to fund these campaigns, including one contract with McGuire Consulting LLC that provided $105,210.39 in funds through the University at Albany Foundation, and another with the Rochester-based marketing agency Dixon Schwabl that provided $47,800 in state funds for the campaign, as per UAlbany Senior Communications Mike Nolan.

According to Nolan, the University’s Office of Communications and Marketing handled other creative elements, including graphics and messaging, outside of the work done by these two agencies, although all parties’ work was integrated in the final result.

The re-branding campaign was launched publicly on January 22nd in the Campus Center, where students and faculty gathered for free t-shirts and hats, along with the reveal of the Great Dane bust that now sits in the center of the Campus Center lobby.

UAlbany President Havidan Rodriguez, along with Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Christakis, spoke to the crowd to connect the celebration of the university’s 175th anniversary with the new brand, while also welcoming students to the start of the Spring 2019 semester.

“We’re not suggesting that you came here and that we made you great,” said Christakis. “We are acknowledging that you are already coming to the university great, and we are just helping you to unleash that greatness.”

Constantine agrees to disagree with Christakis and the University in regards to this narrative. “I agree that the student body arrives here great, but in order for students to leave here greater they need access to resources that will allow them to succeed.”


Phillip Downes is a student at UAlbany, Class of 2022, and the News Editor for the Albany Student Press.

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