Brand Management is a Full-Time Job

My husband and I recently attended the Michigan State University Spartans vs. University of Michigan Wolverines hockey game at blustery Soldier Field in Chicago. More than 30,000 people attended the event and it was a featured live broadcast of the Big Ten Network. As Spartans, we were dismayed by the score, with the Wolverines winning 4-1, but something else happened at the event that made national news for all the wrong reasons.

It seems that the souvenir vendor was selling “official” pucks with “Michigan University” printed on them. Since the University of Michigan, or U-M for short, is one of the oldest and most recognizable brands and logos in the world of sports, how could something like this happen? And why was it such big news that the Associated Press, Gannett Newspapers, Sports Illustrated and the television networks reported on it? Well, it shows two things:

  • Branding and the proper management of brands and logos is very important
  • Misuse or improper use of a brand, especially one as important as the University of Michigan, is noticed by the public and can become a source of embarrassment and concern

Souvenir hockey pucks wrongfully list University of Michigan as "Michigan University"

The Wolverines have had their share of challenges in the past year, with the resignation of their athletic director and the firing of their football coach. We all know that U-M will be back in the competitive landscape soon and will right the ship. But what if an unfortunate logo or brand misuse were to happen to your company or organization, or if your logo, wordmark, or branded products were accidently put in a compromising situation?

Do you have official brand standards that present appropriate usage guidelines for your brand and logo? Are there “brand police” in your organization who oversee the company brand standards and ensure that customer and client touch points are consistent with your standards? If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, we would love to work with you to protect your brand from what happened to the University of Michigan. We would be happy to help the University of Michigan as well, but I did mention we are Spartans, didn’t I?

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