Marketing office explores branding possibilities

Oswego State has begun to take a look at its branding and is beginning a process to create a new, more curated public image.

Wayne Westervelt and the college marketing office recently sent out a questionnaire to the campus community via the OswegoToday bulletin, which can be found online at Oswego.edu/brand, that asks respondents about how they define and what they feel about the college.

Westervelt said that the questions are specifically open-ended, short answer rather than multiple choice to ensure that there is no bias in the results. 

“It’s so important to make it about all of us, instead, for example, the marketing office and my team just going in and building a brand on our own,” Westervelt said. “If we did it that way, in the end, it would just be my brand or my team’s brand.”

Westervelt said that the push for a cohesive brand comes, in part, from reported disunity among the college’s different departments and public relations projects. Currently, the college is officially referred to as SUNY Oswego, yet some apparel and other marketing materials refer to it as Oswego State or Oswego State University. 

Westervelt said that the time is right for a branding push, as Oswego has worked hard to update itself and keep the college dynamic and competitive. 

“There’s a lot of pride in how Oswego has elevated itself in recent years,” Westervelt said. 

He said that Oswego is now a leader in the SUNY system in capital improvement, spending millions to upgrade campus facilities in recent years, with current plans in the works for renovations in Hewitt Hall and Funnelle Hall. 

Westervelt said that Oswego State is working toward becoming a premier destination for students and has already progressed down that road fairly far.

He spoke about how recent graduates have reported that interviewers have recognized the Oswego name, and it has helped them get a job. 

Westervelt said the branding program will be broken into three distinct phases, and they are currently in the discovery phase. In this phase, the school is looking for data on how people feel about Oswego State and what they associate with it. 

The second phase, coming over the summer months, will be when Westervelt and his team collate responses, look at current branding strategies used by various campus departments and develop a report about what is being done so far and how effective it is. 

The final phase, which Westervelt says will come in the fall, will be when the final branding guidelines will be drafted, different creative and visual elements will be implemented and a concrete program will be put into place. 

Westervelt said that the changes the campus will see cannot be predetermined until after the end of the second phase, when all the information is transformed into a readable report. Westervelt stressed the point that the brand extends beyond a mascot or a logo, into the specific things that the college highlights in their marketing materials and how the college presents itself in the wider market. 

For now, Westervelt is asking students, faculty, staff and alumni to fill out the brand exploration initiative questionnaire on the Oswego website to give his office more data to understand how Oswego State is perceived by those who interact with it. 

Photo by Maria Pericozzi | The Oswegonian

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