by Katie DeGenova

A “brand” is not just a logo, tagline or image. It’s all of those things–and more. We talk about brands a lot, but why do they matter? And how is UGA building and maintaining its brand?

Why do brands matter?

Brands make products or organizations (including universities) instantly recognizable.

From across a room, you could identify a can of Coca-Cola even if you couldn’t read the label. If you’re on a Southwest flight and the attendant cracks a joke, you wouldn’t be surprised. When I was an alumna living in D.C., there was a house around the corner that donned a UGA flag, and it always made me smile.

Our attention spans are getting shorter. This blog post is already too long. Without instant recognition, we lose our audience’s attention before they even know who we are. They never get to the carefully crafted message.

Brands personify products or organizations.

An emotional connection is more powerful than a transaction. People are wired to make emotional connections with other people, so if there’s a human element, our connection to that brand is stronger.

Paying tuition, registering for classes, and graduating are technically what makes me an alumna of the University of Georgia. But walking through Tate Plaza, getting coffee in the SLC/MLC to study, Saturdays in Sanford Stadium, and a spring day on North Campus give me warm, fuzzy feelings.

Instant recognition + emotional connection = your audience’s undivided attention [magic]

As attention spans decrease, companies pay millions to try to capture the attention of their audiences. You can’t get any message across to someone if they’re not paying attention. It doesn’t matter how carefully crafted your message, how shiny your mailer, or how punchy your video.

How does UGA build, maintain and strengthen its brand?

Universities are at an advantage when communicating with alumni. The strong emotional connection is already there. So we need to instead focus on making everything we do instantly recognizable as part of the University of Georgia. How do we do this?

The answer is simple: CONSISTENCY.

There are more than 80 alumni chapters around the world, hundreds of emails going to our constituents, and thousands of UGA staff trying to represent UGA in meetings or at events. Branding consistency helps align all of those efforts. So as one alumnus or donor interacts with various parts of the university, we’re all serving to strengthen their connection to UGA.

After undergoing the strategic brand initiative in 2016, the University of Georgia has a well-defined brand, and you can find more information about it on the UGA brand website. UGA’s Marketing & Communication’s Division has provided guidance so that we can be consistent in:

  • Key messages: If you’re looking for general messages about UGA, here they are. This is an excellent place to start telling the UGA story.
  • Writing style: The words we use matter. Voice and tone should be consistent, and all of our messages should align with an overall message about the UGA.
  • Visual style: If we all use the exact same red, people can identify Georgia red when they see it (think: Tennessee orange vs. Clemson orange). Visual style also encompasses typography, graphical elements, and photography.
  • Logos and marks: If every logo used by every school, college, unit, and division is part of the same family, then we are strengthening the overall UGA brand. A rising tide lifts all boats.

The DARCOMM team is well-versed in the UGA brand. We have worked to incorporate consistency in support of the marketing and communications efforts undertaken by DAR units. Let us know if you’d like to learn more!