Monday, February 4, 2008

Branding ... Reshaping a recognizable name without changing it

When drawing up a new logo and graphics package, leaders at the United Negro College Fund had to wrestle with a touchy subject: its name.

Although mainstream in 1944, when the Fairfax, Va.-organization was founded, the term "negro" had gone out of favor by the 1970s, said President & CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. In approaching what he termed the "sensitive issue" of the name, he said, "We didn't want to lose our heritage, but we didn't want it to be a barrier to attracting the attention and engagement of a new generation."

The solution, unveiled on Jan. 17, was to place just the acronym next to a restyled torch and above the signature tagline, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Going forward, the organization will use UNCF as a first reference in all its public materials. However, added Lomax, "We are, as far as I know, always going to be the United Negro College Fund" when it comes to the legal name.

The new logo caps a four-year organizational review that began when surveys identified an age problem: the World War II and baby boomer generations understood the UNCF's mission, but the iPod generation was hazier about it. "That was somewhat troubling," Lomax said.
That led to a revamping of the communications strategy two years ago, including freshening up the "Evening with the Stars" annual fundraiser. Last year, the UNCF turned to graphics, recasting the previously black-and-white torch in light blue, yellow and burnt orange, as well as changing the typeface.

The fund not only underwrites scholarships -- amounting to about $80 million for 8,000 students -- but also sends money to 39 historically black colleges and universities and runs education advocacy arms.

No comments: