Share this article

print logo

‘Buffalo’ reclaiming place of honor on UB team jerseys

The Buffalo name again will be featured prominently on the jerseys of University at Buffalo intercollegiate athletics teams.

A new “identity and brand strategy,” more than a year in the making, launched on campus Tuesday morning. And it makes the “University at Buffalo” the single official name used in identifying all of the schools and units within the university.

The new UB brand strategy moves away from the “New York Bulls” initiative that former Athletic Director Danny White launched in 2013, featuring “New York” more prominently than “Buffalo” on the uniforms of student athletes and on courts and fields. That strategy was aimed at highlighting UB’s status as the largest public university in New York. Critics said it was too confusing and dismissive of UB’s intercollegiate athletics tradition.

UB Athletics will unveil a new set of logos featuring the traditional interlocking UB, a new bull design and the “Buffalo Bulls” in bold lettering, instead of “State University of New York Buffalo.”

UB President Satish K. Tripathi announced the branding effort in an email to faculty, staff and students, saying it was time to be “much bolder in telling the world about what a great university UB is.” The effort also includes a new marketing slogan, “Here Is How.”

The new strategy will be implemented over a few years, but some changes will be apparent immediately, including an overhaul of the university website.

“As UB continues to rise in the ranks of the nation’s great public research universities, the world is increasingly taking notice,” Tripathi said in his email. “Our university, and what makes us distinctive, will become even more widely known through this strategy, and it will benefit the entire university, as well as the Buffalo community.”

Long a staple of the corporate world, branding is becoming increasingly important in higher education, and UB joins dozens of other schools in recent years that have built brand strategies as a way to highlight their strengths and distinguish themselves in a crowded and competitive academic marketplace. Last May, University of Akron President Scott Scarborough faced heavy criticism from faculty, students and alumni over his decision to rebrand the university as Ohio’s Polytechnic University in an effort to distinguish the institution and grow enrollment.

UB last year hired Ologie, a national branding firm based in Columbus, Ohio, to assist in determining the university’s “strategic identity” and in creating a more clear and cohesive message around that identity. Ologie partnered with another firm, Marshall Strategy of San Francisco. The firms were awarded a $314,000 contract.

Ologie also recently worked with West Virginia University, the University of California system and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

New York will still be part of the university’s athletic identity, through a new tagline that will be used in marketing materials, “New York’s Public Powerhouse.”

Athletics Director Allen Greene said the prior branding with the New York emphasis stimulated discussion about UB’s stature in New York and was “a tremendous success.”

Under the new brand strategy, athletics will be unified with every school and department at UB, making the program even stronger.

“Our research also showed us that ‘Buffalo’ has a very strong place in the hearts and spirit of the UB community,” he said.

Changes to uniforms, courts and fields will be phased in starting this summer, said Greene.

The branding initiative also will attempt to clear up longstanding confusion about the university’s name. The law school, for example, has been known for years as SUNY Buffalo Law School, while the architecture school has gone by the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. Both of those schools will now be paired with the official name, University at Buffalo. UB’s affiliation with the State University of New York will continue to be emphasized, especially in international markets where SUNY is widely known,

“It is very important to UB’s future that we have a clear and consistent identity across the entire university,” said Nancy Paton, vice president for communications at UB.

The “Here Is How” concept is intended to convey a more concrete sense of what it’s like to be at UB and in Buffalo, added Paton.

Rather than simply presenting UB as a large, comprehensive research university, the new branding strategy will focus on telling the story of an institution that tackles big problems with grit, tenacity and pragmatism, reflecting the characteristics of the Western New York region itself.

“UB is an ambitious and inclusive community of big thinkers and doers,” she said. “We are tenacious in pursuit of our goals, and we bring a global context to all that we do.”

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com