- Image is everything. It certainly has become very important to The
University of Southern Mississippi. "We have risen to the ranks
of a world-class institution, and everything we do and everything
we produce should present that world-class image," said university
President Dr. Shelby Thames.
In 1997, a
study initiated by the university concluded that its image was undefined
and fractured because each college and department used its own logos
and marks. "We had more than 35 different logos university-wide,"
said Lisa Mader, director of Marketing and Public Relations. "We
were struggling with too many identities, which created a lack of
one, strong university identity."
the 1997 study with the GodwinGroup, a public relations firm from
Jackson, the university began in fall 2002 to define its image and
to establish a strong and recognizable "brand." GodwinGroup
worked with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to evaluate the
university's interests and to determine what the university means
to its many stakeholders.
The first order
of business was to firmly establish the university's official name
and preferred name. The official name is The University of Southern
Mississippi, while the preferred name is Southern Miss.
the national and international recognition this university is receiving,
its name is very important," said Danny Mitchell, president
and CEO of GodwinGroup.
"USM" is not the official or preferred name for the university.
Outside the state of Mississippi, "USM" is poorly recognized
and is not consistently affiliated with the university.
proper reference to the university was the first step in establishing
the university's brand. The next was determining if the university's
logo and seal represented the university's forward mission.
evaluated every aspect of the university and its competitors. Finding
the university seal and logo "timeless, strong and classic,"
GodwinGroup recommended only small changes. The seal, which features
the 1910 dome building surrounded by the words "The University
of Southern Mississippi," is used on academic materials and
by organizations connected academically to the university.
a strong, unified brand, The University of Southern Mississippi
also began phasing out more than 30 campus, college and program
logos and marks. "Only through this consistency will the university
be able to establish the brand of The University of Southern Mississippi
to people both nationally and internationally," said Mitchell.
university seal and logo were not the only areas to receive a new
look. Southern Miss Athletics also faced many of the same consistency
and reference issues the academic side faced.
As a result,
a new eagle head logo designed by Southern Miss alumnus Rodney Richardson
was released on Jan. 29, 2003. The new eagle head is "truly
our own and provides us with a distinctive look," said Richard
Giannini, Southern Miss athletic director.
Golden Eagles logo is to be used on all athletic uniforms, publications,
and merchandise," said Gene Fitts, licensing specialist with
the Department of Marketing and Public Relations. "This mark
is special to our athletic auxiliaries, which are supported by funding
from sales of this merchandise."
the release of a new eagle head logo, the university unveiled a
unified color scheme. For the first time in university history,
there is one gold color university-wide rather than one for academics
and one for athletics. One official university-wide color scheme
enables a more consistent and definitive view of the university.
"When fans, businesses and automobiles are decked out in the
official gold and black colors, they become more readily identifiable
with The University of Southern Mississippi and the Southern Miss
family," said Fitts.
the public with the university's two distinct logos, Southern Miss
placed light pole banners throughout the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park
campuses. The banners are also located on the light poles on Highway
90 that run in front of the Gulf Park Campus. "The banners
make quite a statement," said Jared Loftus, SGA president.
"The bright colors and bold logos really grab your attention.
People visiting Hattiesburg and Long Beach certainly know about
The University of Southern Mississippi."
to maintain a consistent, high-quality image mandated a disciplined
approach in the way The University of Southern Mississippi was represented
in every aspect. The next step was to develop graphic guidelines
that address how to uphold the desired image and recognition through
correspondence, Web sites, brochures and signage. "Graphic
standards are one of the most important and basic aspects of our
university's image," said Mader.
the graphic standards, university officials unveiled the university's
brand identity in September during the annual meeting of faculty
and staff. The brand identity establishes the heritage of the university
along with establishing what it as an institution believes and values,
what it promises to provide its stakeholders, and what it stands
for today and aspires to be in the future. "Our brand identity
helps shape every decision we make at Southern Miss," said
Mader. "It should be the guiding force for what we do, what
we say, and how we say it."
our brand identity has been established, and basic guidelines have
been outlined, we are moving forward with additional image builders,"
said Mader. "We have created image ads and billboard ads that
are eye-catching and a bit edgier than a typical ad for higher education."
Five new billboard
advertisements promoting the university have been placed in various
spots in and around Hattiesburg. One of the double-sided billboards,
which features two of the new ads - is located on West Fourth Street
near the Longleaf Trace Gateway. Colored with a gold background,
one side shows a young man looking through a magnifying glass, his
eye enlarged, with a slogan beneath that reads, "Keep an Eye
on the Future."
The other three
locations are on Highway 98 by Lowe's, Highway 49 North near the
Inn on the Hill, and on Weathersby Road near Turtle Creek Mall.
The billboard near Lowe's shows a young man looking through his
joined L-shaped fingers, with the slogan, "Think Outside the
will soon be visible along the Gulf Coast. Seven billboards will
carry the new look throughout the coastal counties of South Mississippi.
Some of the
billboard spaces were donated and some were purchased by the university.
Norman Beasley, general manager of Lamar Outdoor, said his company
donated some spaces because it wanted to give something back to
the community. Impressed with the look of the ads, Beasley said,
"I think they look fantastic."
he said, "I hope my salespeople, when they call customers,
will use them as an example of the kind of artwork that can be done
to really capture people's attention."
of Copy Cats Printing designed the ads that will stay up for 12
months. "I've never been asked to design billboards before,"
said Lacy. "I worked with them to highlight elements of the
brand identity they worked on, and everyone seems to be pleased
with the outcome."
continue to look for opportunities to build our university's image,"
said Mader. "Image impacts everything we do, including university
recruitment, retention, future donations, enrollment, and alumni
participation - just to name a few. Branding and image building
will continue to be a major focus for The University of Southern
Mississippi as we grow and adjust to the ever-changing role of higher