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Everything you want to know about the branding initiative

mug with new UT Arlington logo Nearly 100 alumni, students and other UT Arlington supporters participated in an online Mavs Chat with President James D. Spaniolo and Alumni Association Executive Director Christina Cobb after the Feb. 15 brand launch [watch the video]. The following excerpts from the hour-long session address the logo, mascot, advertising, apparel, research methods, costs and other topics. For a complete list of questions and answers, visit www.uta.edu/uta/chat/archive.

Why did we need to change the brand? What’s wrong with what we had?
The new brand will improve our ownership of our image, that is, who people think we are. Currently, our reputation does not align with the reality of our academic standing. While certain colleges, schools and departments have achieved good reputations within their disciplines, for the most part the UT Arlington story of extraordinary teaching combined with research success, alumni achievement and student life has not been told. This new brand will help create awareness of the fact that UT Arlington is one of Texas’ top comprehensive research universities. A clearer image and strengthened reputation will deliver a number of important results: increased funding from private and public sources; continued recruitment and retention of world-class faculty; continued recruitment of the best and brightest students; and increased understanding and appreciation among business and opinion leaders of the value this university delivers to the nation.

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Who had input into the new image? What type of research did you base it on?
The research methodology involved focus groups and interviews with faculty, students, alumni, area employers, non-matriculating students and students from other universities who never considered UT Arlington. We also surveyed high school guidance counselors. We conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis in each focus group to determine which strengths and opportunities represented real strategic advantages. We also examined the process that prospective students go through in selecting universities as well as brand positioning messages. This information is important in developing an efficient and effective brand advertising program.

How much money did the University spend on the branding effort?
Because we accomplished much of the production with the University’s communications staff, our final expenditures for the creative brand work will be less than $130,000. The agency working with us donated the rest of its time on the project. We plan to spend about $344,500 in advertising between March and September. Our best-practices research indicates that universities spend $500,000 to $1 million on their brand and advertising programs.

Couldn’t all that money have been put to better use?
Comparatively speaking, the new brand didn’t cost that much, and the return on our investment will pay for itself, or pay dividends, many times over in the form of increased support from corporate, public and private sources.

What type of advertising is UT Arlington going to do?
We’re executing an integrated campaign in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Houston. The campaign includes print ads in Texas Monthly, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram; radio ads in Dallas-Fort Worth on KBFB-FM, KHKS-FM and KDGE-FM and in Houston on KBXX-FM, KRBE-FM and KTBZ-FM; and Internet ads on Alloy Network, FastWeb, Yahoo, dallasnews.com and houstonchronicle.com. You’ll see billboards in Arlington at I-30 and Cooper Street; in Lewisville at I-35 north of FM 407; in Plano at Central Expressway north of 15th Street; and in The Woodlands/Conroe at I-45 north of Rutherford Street.

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How was the new logo developed?
We began the process with several concepts from the creative agency. The final logo was developed via input from a series of focus groups with students, faculty and alumni. Each group offered an idea that was explored, and if that idea was found to be an improvement, it was used to refine the concept. The research with students and alumni told us that the spirit logo used by our athletic teams is popular and represents the University well. We took our inspiration from that logo and embellished it with a beveled star. Both the A and the beveled star are trimmed in orange, but there are also versions of the logo in blue, black and white.

Why do we have orange in our logo instead of red?
Blue and white have always been UT Arlington’s colors. The UT System Board of Regents requires every university in the system to use some shade of orange in its institutional logo. We added a small orange trim to the logo to comply and to leverage the fact that we are part of one of the nation’s premier university systems. Note that we didn’t use UT Austin’s burnt orange.

Why is “UT” nowhere in the logo?
UT is incorporated into many versions of the new logo. The full name of the University is spelled out in the wordmark, and several logo options include UT Arlington. Visit www.uta.edu/graphicidentity to view the approved versions of the logo and wordmark.

How will this logo help recruit students?
It takes more than a new, more distinctive logo to recruit students. The brand advertising, media relations, direct marketing, special events and other efforts will help create awareness of why UT Arlington should be a student’s first choice. That, along with direct mail and recruiting efforts, will put UT Arlington into more prospective students’ consideration set.

Why don’t we want to be called UTA anymore?
Our research tells us that the majority of people outside Arlington do not know what UTA stands for. They think the A is for Austin. In our external communications, we will refer to the University as The University of Texas at Arlington and, in second reference, as UT Arlington. That doesn’t mean we can’t use UTA on campus and in conversation.

Why can’t I buy UT Arlington apparel at retail outlets other than the campus bookstore?
The administration has been working with the bookstore to improve the quantity, selection and prices of UT Arlington merchandise; hopefully, you’re already seeing those improvements. We’re also working on merchandising plans with The Parks at Arlington mall, plus other D-FW and Houston area malls that are owned by The Parks’ parent company. We have to show these retailers that there is a demand for such merchandise and that they will not experience a financial loss with unsold inventory. Once we have agreements with retailers, we’ll promote the products widely. We hope you and the UT Arlington community will frequent those stores and buy the merchandise.

Why did we decide to promote ourselves as Mavericks?
The new “Be A Maverick” tagline is all about establishing our own identity. As you may have seen from the Maverick Manifesto video, we are redefining what it means to be a maverick—that is, an independent thinker and active learner who is not content to follow the crowd but eager to blaze new trails.

Is there going to be a new mascot?
We will continue to be the Mavericks. However, how our mascot is represented may change. The student leadership is leading the mascot effort. Do we keep Sam and Samantha Maverick as they are, modify them or develop a new representation? If the vote this spring is to develop something new, students will be invited to submit their suggestions under guidelines approved by Student Congress.

Editor’s note: Of the nearly 1,700 people who participated in an online poll, 65 percent voted to change the look of the mascot. New representations are being developed, and a student election is expected in the fall.

As an alum, I thought the branding event was a huge success in terms of campus support. But some people couldn’t get in because of space limitations. It shows why we need a special events center.
We were delighted by the overwhelming support of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. We really had no idea that thousands of people would want to attend our brand launch celebration.

Will the athletic teams continue to wear blue, white and red? Or will red be phased out to better match the University brand?
Blue and white will be the primary colors for athletics, but there will be a transition period. Don’t expect immediate changes in uniforms.

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