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Consistency in A&M brand promotes nation-wide recognition, prestige

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 02:10

A&M Brand

Elyse Wudeck

“From the outside looking in you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

So the famous Aggie moniker goes, accentuating what makes Texas A&M University unique while highlighting what was once one if its greatest fallacies: the inability to effectively brand itself.

Enter 2012 with the move to the Southeastern Conference and a continued drive to academic prestige, and what was before inexplicable has suddenly opened the eyes of people across the country. As recently as September, the media coverage surrounding the A&M-Florida football game generated an estimated $6.5 million in exposure.

While athletics, particularly football, has received the majority of the recent headlines with its move to the SEC, academics remains at the heart of the University’s mission and purpose. Benefitting from a shift in marketing philosophy and heightened exposure through the SEC, A&M has placed itself in key position to reach former A&M president Ray Bowen’s “Vision 2020”.

Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications at A&M, said the University’s goal has remained constant during the past 13 years.

“Our goal is tied into ‘Vision 2020’, which dates back to 1999,” Cook said. “The goal for Texas A&M is to be recognized as one of the Top 10 public universities in the country. Everything we do from a marketing and communications standpoint is somehow tied into that goal.”

But something had to be done to curb old habits. As Aggies always say: “from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

Cook said the answer was simple: consistency.

“We’re very unique in higher education in that we have a consistent identity between athletics and the University,” Cook said. “So the same logo that’s seen on the side of the football helmets, seen by an average of 4.5 million people on a national SEC broadcast, is also used by the University. It’s used by every college and division on our campus. Brand consistency is where you have the greatest impact.”

Pamela Green, director of communications for A&M’s Dwight Look College of Engineering, noted her college’s branding deficiencies prior to a renewed emphasis on a University-first approach.

“Before the University started its big branding effort, [University branding] was something the engineering college had a huge need for,” Green said. “Prior to the final brand of Texas A&M coming out, we had done some research in engineering and saw that it was very important for us to sell Texas A&M first.”

The A&M College of Liberal Arts, a burgeoning college and now A&M’s second largest, also began to take branding seriously. Rob Robideau, director of marketing, communications and media relations for the College of Liberal Arts, said the relationship between the University and the colleges is integral.

“If the College of Liberal Arts was to go it alone without its ties to Texas A&M, we would not have near the success with marketing as we have,” Robideau said. “There’s the real key to the branding effort, that association with A&M. It’s good for the college, it’s good for our departments, it’s good for our programs all the way down to the individual researchers.”

Even students have begun to buy in to the new marketing strategy, albeit subconsciously. A single commute down University Drive often reveals student vehicles with stickers proudly revealing their respective majors, with Texas A&M listed just above the decals.

Cook said consolidation is the new strategy — and he said it’s working.

“People tend to connect first with the University and then secondly with their academic area of study,” he said. “That’s the brand strategy we’ve put into place over the last couple of years. It’s Texas A&M architecture or Texas A&M construction science or Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. That’s how people relate to the brand.”

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