How College Brands Can Lose Their Way Amid March Madness

Notre Dame

(from Sports Business Journal, March 31, 2013) College school brands have always been a topic of discussion between the college’s presidents, athletic directors, and basketball coaches. With the business of college having higher operating costs than ever before and high competition for tuition dollars, they need to put brand management as a high priority. There is a lot of disapproval these days about how colleges are changing their brands to improve enrollment. Not only is this being examined about colleges, but more specifically about college athletics.
Student athletes, coaches, mascots, bands, fans, and cheerleaders are all huge representatives of their school brand. There has been much scrutiny about this basketball season and how college teams are representing their school brands. With so many viewers watching, colleges should make this their opportunity to represent their own school brands in the best manner that they can. Sponsors for college teams, for example, Adidas, provide sporting equipment for select college teams. In the big east tournament Notre Dame, wearing Adidas, lime green, camo uniforms, represented their sponsor Adidas fantastically, but failed to represent their school brand. The sponsors want to use the college’s athletic team’s media time to show off their new designs, or new look and fabrics they have created. This many times means that the college’s brand is taken out of consideration and leaves a misunderstanding about the schools brand. Also, the famous black out uniforms worn by many teams set great confusion about the school, since only about 70% of them in the NCAA tournament have black as one of their school colors. Some schools, such as Indiana, stay true to their school brand and not much has changed in the look of their uniforms since the 70’s. Other schools, such as Oklahoma, say that they will adapt with the people associated to their school, but still stay in context of their schools brand. It is important that schools stay consistent with their brand, so that their message and vision is clear.