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Clients in the News: University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology

Each month, we spotlight a “client in the news” in our e-newsletter. This month, we’re highlighting the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology.

A brand is far more than a name, logo and tagline. Yet these are the visual representations of the brand and lay a foundation for us to attach our perceptions. Some names stick around forever. Others lose their relevancy. And one was celebrated with a flash mob!________________________________________________

Preserving Tradition and Embracing Change: Transitioning the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology to the College of Science & Engineering

For the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology, that name no longer accurately reflected its scope. The shorthand for Institute of Technology – IT – made people think of Information Technology, conjuring images of computers, high-tech equipment and technical support instead of science, mathematics, engineering and other related disciplines. This disconnect presented a challenge and after exhaustive brand research by the graduate school’s Carlson Brand Enterprise, a simple, new name emerged: the College of Science & Engineering.

The Board of Regents approved the name change in December 2009, to be effective July 1, 2010. Though the new name was simple, orchestrating a transition in a matter of months was complex. Everything from signage, online content and registration materials to acronym, wordmark and everyday references had to change.

More importantly, every constituent needed to understand the change and embrace it, and that further complicated the effort. Fortunately, this undertaking also brought a significant opportunity to celebrate the College’s 75th anniversary and to develop a marketing plan to commemorate a rich history while looking forward with anticipation to the innovation of tomorrow. All of this had to be accomplished with a lean budget contributed in its entirety by the Dean’s Advisory Board members, made up of business leaders and alumni.

Engineers and scientists are often not comfortable talking about “soft” sciences such as marketing. They prefer dealing with solid facts and figures. This was important to keep in mind as RMPR engaged a group of somewhat introverted, emotionally charged faculty, students, recruiting staff, and corporate business partners to clarify the vision and goals of the college.

Following the name change approval, RMPR executed a variety of tactics to support the transition to the new name:

  • Facilitated two participatory workshops with stakeholders to update positioning and key messaging and ensure that these coincided as required with the University’s overall brand strategy, “Driven to Discover™”
  • Worked with the College to establish the new acronym (CSE)
  • Developed a new wordmark
  • Updated the College’s website in collaboration with the U’s communication team to include discovery, definition, design
  • Provided ongoing, internal and external communications recommendations and counsel
  • Helped the College create 75th anniversary milestone activities for ownership and implementation by a variety of student, faculty, staff and alumni committees
  • On October 19, 2010, the University of Minnesota’s College of Science & Engineering celebrated its 75th Anniversary – AND its new name. Current students participated in a flash mob during the festivities, and a new website commemorated not just the anniversary year, but the prominence the college has within the university community and beyond.