The Importance of College Branding

Posted on October 21, 2011

The Importance of College Branding

It’s that time of year again when the leaves put on spectacular shows of vibrant color and pumpkins take their places as front porch fixtures. The mercury begins dropping which brings sweatshirts, jeans, and coats out of hiding, and everything starts getting a little more spooky with Halloween right around the corner.

But then of course, and much more importantly, we get to the nitty-gritty, the crux, the warp and woof of fall – college football season. That’s right folks, tailgating twenty-four hours a day, dissociating ourselves from our friends, neighbors, colleagues, family, loved ones, and poisoning historic landmar… ok, too far – don’t poison anything. Ever. I apologize.

College football. Man, there’s nothing like it, especially down here in the South. We love us some gridiron, yes we do. But if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you know things always seem to take an advertising spin. Well, this one’s about to as well.

Where could I be going with this post about poisoning trees, college football, advertising and pumpkins? Duh, commercials for colleges of course. As I understand it, each team representing a college gets to air one commercial sometime around halftime. Has anyone not noticed how absolutely terrible the majority of these ads are? You went with humor? Really? Half of them look like they’ve been filmed by a freshman video production class that slapped something together at the 11th hour.

All except for a select few, and that’s where The University of Alabama… wait for it… wait.. for.. it… Roll Tide… comes in. One thing this school understands is branding. They make sure that they look darn pretty in the spotlight. During the National Championship I was so excited to know that millions upon millions of viewers would briefly¬†get to see where I graduated from.

There is a deep sense of pride that runs through me when I get the opportunity to tell someone, “yeah, I graduated from The University of Alabama”… wait for it… wait.. for.. it… Roll Tide! In fact, I’m sure that most college alumni experience that very same sensation after announcing the institution they graduated from. You’re given this opportunity to show hundreds of thousands of people why they should invest their money in your program. So why, oh why on this lovely Earth do I have to beg you to produce half-decent commercials that look and feel somewhat professional.

Take a look at these and continue:

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These commercials are works of art. They give me chills. They have meaning, they make you think, they give you insight – they’re brilliant, and most importantly, they make me proud. There’s an emotional connection here. I have these guys to thank for doing it right. When these commercials come on during a football game, it recharges me. I instantly know it’s my school. No, not because of habit and not because I’ve watched them 302,000 times, but because of the consistency of the school’s branding. Every external communication piece that comes out of The University of Alabama is well thought out, consistent, and professionally laid out. Spend a little money on creating something to make your students, faculty, and alumni proud of – don’t embarrass them on national television.

My plea: Colleges and universities of the United States, I beg you – please, for the love of all of us watching college football on Saturdays, make your commercials relevant. Make them interesting. Make them emotional. Make them stand out. Just stop doing this:

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The Importance of College Branding by

2 Replies to "The Importance of College Branding"

  • Tyler Echevarria (@Frosteemoob)
    October 21, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    The college commercials are one of the things I love to nitpick when they come one during the games. I always compare them to UA’s, because I feel that they have some of the best in the business. The Clemson one wasn’t the worst I have seen but then again Clemson is just Auburn with a lake. The App State video is bad, wait for it, wait for it, It’s LEGENDARILY bad. I was only able to make it 38 secs in before having to stop it.

    No one will ever do football like we do in the south. UMich is considered to have one of the premier football programs in the country and this town makes me sad with their showing up 2 hours before kickoff. At UA if you show up 2 hours before kickoff, you are parking somewhere near Cottondale and you better have a great excuse.

  • botwer
    October 24, 2011 (2:36 pm)

    Some colleges clearly underestimate the impact their commercials make on viewers. It may be subliminal or not so, but viewers take away an overall impression of the institution when they see a commercial. This may be the only window they have on the college or university, and they base their impression of the sports, academics and quality of the overall experience it has to offer on something that’s often meant to just fill 30 seconds of air time. Alabama clearly gets it, and it reflects a classy institution that strives to get every detail right.

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