by CINDY LY
After an estimated $473,000 rebranding effort by MindPower, an Atlanta-based branding agency, UMW changed the logo and branding of the entire university over the summer of 2021.
According to Malcolm Holmes, the director of University Marketing, “the estimated new costs directly related to the external brand rollout include $300,000 for the media buy; $100,000 for creative advertising development and production; and $45,000 for account management, trafficking, and reporting.”
“In addition, we have spent approximately $28,000 on banners for all three campuses (including production/printing costs, hardware, freight and installation costs), the pep rally on the first day of classes, t-shirts and other promotional items that have been distributed internally,” Holmes added.
Holmes said he is confident that the new rebranding concept will be in place for several years.
“Over time, products, services, and offerings will come and go, but the essence of the brand—the identity of the university—remains the same,” he said. “I anticipate this concept will be in place for several years and gain recognition over time.”
Holmes added that “great brands create a culture, one in which people recognize themselves and gain a sense of belonging to something bigger. ‘Matter’ is a guiding light for the stories and images we use to promote the university. But more importantly, it guides how we treat and speak to each other daily. As members of the UMW community, we are all representatives of the brand. We all matter!”
On Aug. 23, the University hosted a pep rally on Ball Circle to welcome students on their first day of classes and promote the new UMW branding.
“Additional student-focused events and activities will be scheduled throughout the academic year,” said Holmes. “One of the most visible will be a Mental Health Matters campaign in conjunction with the Talley Center in September in recognition of Suicide Prevention Month.”
In response to students who do not completely agree with the new rebranding project, Holmes explained that “the UMW brand is so much more than a logo or a tagline. Our brand resonates from our ASPIRE values. It is a promise that creates an expectation that we must deliver on, and it is a claim of distinction that sets us apart from other colleges and universities.”
According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, there was a shift in student demographics last year due to the pandemic. There has been a delay in the enrollment process for many students. Some of them have been taking virtual classes from home to save on the room and board expenses and are waiting until they are ready to go back to college. For regional universities with smaller pools of students like UMW, this poses an enrollment challenge.
“Colleges and universities are competing for smaller pools of college-bound high school graduates,” said Holmes.
There have been mixed student responses to the school’s new rebranding.
“I think the school is rebranding because it could be in line with all the new renovations happening on campus,” said junior sociology major Zoe Forino. “I feel like the rebranding came out of the blue. I’m still getting used to the font and I’m still not quite sure why the school changed it.”
Kyle Close, a senior business administration major, said he understands UMW’s need for rebranding.
“The rebranding, to me, is a way UMW can maintain its values and help provide direction to students and faculty about what it means to be a part of the UMW community,” said Close.
Close said that, as a transfer student, marketing was not a factor when making his decision to transfer to UMW.
“I doubt it would have influenced it one way or another,” Close added. “[However], I like the new flag and concept because I feel as if UMW is following through with its principles and values.”
Amethyst Ralls, a junior marketing major, mentioned that she likes the new flags.
“The colorful flags look a lot better than ASPIRE,” said Ralls. “The logo isn’t really a logo. It is more of a wordmark.”
When asked if Ralls wanted to change anything about the logo, she offered her recommendations.
“I would have used one of the ‘widgets,’ most likely the bell tower one as the new icon or an updated eagle logo.”
Like Close, Ralls agreed that she is more interested in the meaning behind the marketing concept than its appearance.
“I think I was more interested in what was behind all the flashy marketing. It definitely helps with better colors, but I think that it isn’t the logo and branding that would make me choose a college,” Ralls added.