Marketing program prompts debate
By David Sorensen
Memorial launched its new marketing program with a presentation to the university community on May 23. The marketing plan includes a new brand concept, which focuses on the idea of transformation that Memorial is the place that people and ideas become. Aspects of the concept have generated discussion, particularly among some alumni and faculty members.
The brand identity includes a modern institutional logo and a design concept that uses silhouettes and selected fonts and colours to illustrate the meaning of the brand and unify university promotional materials and activities. A website provides more information on the brand program: http://www.mun.ca/marcomm/brand/index.php.
Some of the commentary on the new program centres around people’s reactions to the new university logo, including its design, wording and usage. The logo combines a claret colour shape with a shortened form of the university’s name, and does not include the words “of Newfoundland.”
Victoria Collins, director of Marketing and Communications, whose office is receiving the comments, says that many commentators appear to know only part of the story. “Many have only heard that there is a new logo but not the background or reasoning behind the change.” She said that, contrary to the assertions of some critics, the university’s name has not changed and the logo is not designed to ignore the university’s locations in this province, noting that Newfoundland and Labrador will be featured prominently in the materials that are prepared as part of the marketing initiative. “The new logo with the words Memorial University is more concise, iconic and inclusive by avoiding the conflict between the official name of the university and the name of the province. Most of our activities and locations are in the province and our mandate is inextricably tied to serving this province so it is vital that we continue to communicate about this place in text and pictures as we interact with prospective students and faculty, and others about the unique Memorial University experience.”
She added that the familiar university logo containing the coat of arms and full name of the university will continue to be used for a variety of purposes, particularly for ceremonial purposes such as convocation, where the various intricate elements can be reproduced clearly.
“Our goal in this marketing initiative is to build on the strengths of Memorial University, to make the university’s strengths better known nationally and internationally — this will benefit alumni, the university and the entire province,” Ms. Collins said. In her replies to those who write, she provides more information on the changes and invites them to experience the brand in context by reviewing the brand web site and the new Research Report 2006, the first major publication/website to reflect the new brand.
“As we build awareness of Memorial’s unique position as the natural place to explore and experience your ingenuity and creativity a positioning derived from our history and the culture of ability here we will distinguish ourselves from other universities and in so doing help achieve our goals for student and faculty recruitment, revenue generation, spirit-building and alumni engagement.”
The development of Memorial’s new brand took more than a year of planning. It involved focus groups, one-on-one and group consultations, brainstorming with the university’s senior officials, and discussions with alumni, donors, members of public and private sector organizations, friends and other stakeholders inside and outside the province. The Division of Marketing and Communications led the planning effort.
Michael Pickard, associate director (marketing), noted that the new look will begin to be implemented over the coming months.
“Whether it is our recruitment material or the way we conduct our student and employee orientation, or even some of the signage around campus, when the new semester starts in September, it’s all going to begin to look a bit different,” Mr. Pickard said.
“Through the brand process, we identified some widely held, but not well articulated core ideas that set the Memorial University experience apart. Through our research we found them to have strong appeal with stakeholders and now we’ll begin to communicate them consistently, creatively and continuously.” He notes that the feedback received from those who share their thoughts on the logo and other aspects of the marketing program with Marketing and Communications will be helpful in the roll out of the brand.
For comments on the brand issue, see our letters section.