The jury is out on whether the University at Buffalo will keep the “New York” emphasis on its uniforms now that Danny White is leaving as athletic director.
New athletic director Allen Greene was part of the team that two years ago put forth the New York Bulls Initiative, an effort to emphasize UB’s standing as the largest public institution in the state system and one of the premier research institutions in the country. UB President Satish K. Tripathi signed off on the idea.
Whether it stays or not largely is not going to be Greene’s decision.
UB has commissioned a study to evaluate how the entire university is branded and marketed. While the institution primarily goes by University at Buffalo, its branding currently is all over the figurative map.
The athletics department calls it the State University of New York at Buffalo (emphasis on New York). The law school goes by “SUNY Buffalo Law School.” The architecture school calls itself the “Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.” There may be other variations.
Ologie, a Columbus, Ohio, based branding firm, has been working since January on a comprehensive plan for UB. Its review is expected to be done in the spring, probably in April. The plan is for UB to fully deploy is new messaging and branding identity in September.
Tripathi stressed on Tuesday that Buffalo is key to the university’s branding.
“Buffalo plays a major role,” Tripathi said. “One of the things that’s definitely important for us is our success is Buffalo’s success. Buffalo’s success is our success. We are completely joined with each other. As we come up with the new recommendations of the branding, we’re going to look at everything we do. Whether one of the schools is using a different logo or not. Why do they use it? Athletics as well.”
“New York is part of our brand,” Tripathi said. “We’re not just UB. We are the State University of New York at Buffalo. UB is one of the brands that we carry.”
Tripathi said it’s not uncommon for an athletic department to brand itself in a slightly different way than the university proper.
“A lot of institutions in the country have athletic branding, and the rest of the school you can separate,” he said. “You can see many institutions that have separate branding. They try things in athletics for a year or two. There’s a masthead change. These things happen frequently.”
However, Tripathi acknowledged that UB’s branding should be more consistent, which is the reason for the branding study.
“It’s important to have an overall brand,” he said. “And then you might have little variations underneath it. That’s true at every place you go to. But you’ve got to have one consistent brand people recognize.”
The objective of White and his team was to make fans better understand UB's academic prominence.
"When you see the University of Michigan or the University of Texas, you assume that’s the premier public university from that state," White said earlier this year. "We’re trying to tell that story."