Facebook revolt impacts university branding

This story about Middlebury has been out for a little less than two weeks, but I just discovered it this morning when a colleague passed it along. It has special relevance to my organization, as we’re currently going through a huge re-branding process and have been overly diligent in including various stakeholders. However, we aren’t doing a lot of testing with student audiences because our organization stands for so many different things and getting internal buy-in alone was a process that dragged on much longer than it should have. The majority of folks that are affiliated with us already is for cause-based reasons vs. image, and we’re counting on that as we move forward - the brand is just a new way to represent the great things we already and will continue to do. That said, I do think it’s important to reach-out to these student audiences a bit before we do the formal roll-out, to let them know what’s going on, and re-frame the branding process in terms of actual cause-based outcomes, such as a new focus on global citizenship and public events that focus on these initiatives.

I also don’t agree with the way that Middlebury backed down from their new branding. They obviously invested a lot of time and money in the process, and although the voices of their constituency matter, a Facebook petition shouldn’t have so much impact over their decisions, especially in such a short amount of time. Their reaction definitely sets a precedent and I imagine it will be harder and a much more arduous process to make any changes to their brand or the way they do business in the future as they’ll want to get buy-in from EVERYONE.

Facebook Petition Sinks Revamped Logo

“The College’s roll-out and subsequent retraction of its new logo this summer brought administrators face-to-face with a growing reality - the speed and power of Facebook as an organizing medium among college students.

Armed only with their computers and disdain for the “Middlebury Leaf,” Sarah Franco ‘08 and Alex Benepe ‘09 brought more than 700 students together in their group “Just Say No to the Middlebury Logo” within days of the College’s announcement of its new graphic identity to accompany a $500 million capital campaign…”

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