Have you heard of the University of Mississippi? Even if the answer to that question is ‘no’, you have certainly heard of Ole Miss. This school is known throughout the nation by its distinctive nickname, and this nickname is the basis for the college’s logo design as well. However, the University of Mississippi is making some changes to their well-recognized college brand.
The chief marketing officer has left Ole Miss—no word on whether that was his decision or theirs—and the university is hiring a Jackson, Miss. agency to handle branding, according to a press release from the school. This signals that change is in store for the university brand and logo design.
The chief marketing officer had established a ‘University Brand Services’ department that was responsible for publications, public relations and other branded activities. This department will still be in existence, but the Ramey Agency will be consulting with it and acting as the ‘head’ of the department for the time being.
According to the school, the agency has been hired to ensure forward progress during the time period in which the school is without a chief marketing officer. However, we have to wonder if finances are not at least a part of the reason for the decision. In the current economy, many businesses and institutions are hiring their branding and logos for their university out to consultants because it is a much cheaper option.
Universities and schools are dealing with funding cuts as well, and looking for ways to be more streamlined in all of their operations. In addition, the agency may breathe new life into the school by bringing new perspective to their brand. Several of the Ramey Agency’s employees are grads of Ole Miss, so there is a good chance they will understand and embrace the brand.
The Ole Miss brand is an integral part of the school, and indeed one of the most recognizable branding elements that the university has to offer. According to the Ole Miss Chancellor, the agency has been hired to ‘ensure uninterrupted progress of promoting the Ole Miss brand and message’.
How will a drastic change in staff affect the Ole Miss brand? Will we see changed in the website, publicity materials, or even in the logo design? This is one brand that may not be ready for a modification. The Ole Miss logo design is simple and has been used for decades with success. People in the community recognize and respect both the name and the logo, and merchandise sales are high. It is one of the most recognizable brand entities to come from the state of Mississippi, in fact.
Change is always difficult, but sometimes it is necessary. So, yes, we predict that the new staff will be leading the University Brand Services in a new direction. Sorry, Ole Miss fans. We have a feeling that your college will be modernizing their logo design and shifting their brand to be a little less old (or is it ‘ole’?) and little more youthful to appeal to modern students.