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University at Buffalo investigating branding strategy

The school is looking to "advance the success of UB 2020."

Matt Gritzmacher

Interesting news filtering to us today from a handful of folks. UB is apparently taking further steps in its branding strategy.

I and you and most people are plenty tired of what I've come to call the #NYBI wars surrounded branding decisions in Athletics, but this initiative is happening on a University-level scale. The following email was passed along to us from a reader:

Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 12:12 PM

To: UB alumni and friends

Subject: UB Branding Strategy Survey

University at Buffalo

Dear [redacted],

To advance the success of UB 2020, our ambitious plan for achieving academic excellence and recognition as a world-class university, UB is committed to developing a comprehensive brand-identity strategy. To assist us, we have partnered with two nationally-recognized firms who together have created powerful brand positions for many prominent higher education institutions.

In the next few days, UB Vice President for Communications Nancy Paton will be emailing you an online survey to gather insights into the university, its culture and its opportunities. This information will be invaluable for creating a distinct and inspiring brand strategy for UB.

As a valued member of the UB community, your perspective is very important to the university's efforts, and your participation is greatly appreciated. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nancy Paton at [redacted].


Nancy L. Wells

Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement

There's not much detail here, and you wouldn't expect much, but it's notable nonetheless.

A few highlights:

  • The specific invocation of UB2020 piques my interest. On one hand, it's the University's plan for the future so of course something like this would work in tandem with it. On the other, the current UB2020 pales in comparison to the original version, which would have in some ways separated UB from the three other "University Centers" in the SUNY system.
  • "Comprehensive brand-identity strategy." Sure it's buzzwordy, but I like that "comprehensive." Fact of the matter is Athletics is not separate from other arms of the University. ADDW answers directly to Tripathi. Not many people do. It may not have anything to do with #NYBI at all, but if it does, let's remember this.
  • Two nationally-recognized firms
  • "Distinct ... brand strategy." Again buzzwords. But the question of who UB needs to distinguish itself from is not hard, especially when they start the email with UB2020
The person who passed this along to us notes "this is is the first time I've ever seen UB, the school, talk about its brand." There's plenty of room to make guesses and predictions, and while obviously my mind jumps to one thing, it's likely that the end result here isn't a grand leap forward. Still, it's happening and it's news.