UCONN: Rebranding the University

By Nina Pelc-Faszcza


The University of Connecticut is rapidly gaining national and global recognition. Because of this exciting new potential to be among the most well-known universities in the country and acknowledged for its outstanding academic caliber, the University decided to move forward this year with a strategic rebranding. 

Starting the journey almost eighteen months ago, the University’s communications team conducted extensive research on how to best establish UConn in the marketplace of higher education and athletics, including, but not limited to, surveys from and conversations with current students, prospective students, alumni, donors, faculty, staff, and personnel from other universities. They also conducted research as to how the other top public universities in the country most effectively market themselves.

 What the officials discovered first and foremost from this research is that there is an enormous amount of brand equity in the name “UConn,” especially in the realm of athletics. Additionally, the other top universities that best market themselves tend to use a consistent and straightforward “brand” across the board.  Although the University is already commonly and casually referred to by its nickname, to take full advantage of the increasing name recognition, the decision was made to officially brand the entire University and all of the schools that compose it: UCONN.

The main purpose and effect of this initiative and change is to give the entire University a cohesive image. All of the schools (Undergraduate, School of Law, Medicine, Business, etc.) now share an identical, bold logo and word mark – fully licensed and trademarked. This mark will eventually be phased in on all University items, including signage, advertising, and websites. The University’s traditional oak leaf and seal have not been dropped and are still in place to be used as UConn’s secondary identifiers. 

Patricia Fazio, Assistant Vice President for Brand Strategy for the University, explained that UConn wants to be known and recognized for all of its achievements, not just its athletics. By giving all the schools the same branding, UConn hopes that the entire University will benefit from this cohesion and that it will help us move forward in academic recognition.

The University also updated its Husky mascot, which has changed a handful of times in the last half century.  The new design is a result of the school’s collaboration with Nike as well as input from athletes, coaches, and numerous other members of the University community. UConn seeks to emerge in the world of academia and athletics with confidence, and the strong and sleek new Husky mascot does just that. All of the NCAA sports teams will now wear the same new logo and mascot on their uniforms.

Of course, the rebranding of the University goes well beyond just the new logo and Husky mascot. A consistent logo and mascot helps eliminate confusion in the marketplace, especially in terms of athletics and the association of UConn’s academic achievements with the larger university as a whole. But the rebranding is a deeper and broader initiative to reflect UConn’s steady rise in national rankings in every respect. In her annual State of the University speech last April, University President Susan Herbst explained the need of the University to make strategic decisions “to align our image with who and what we truly are.” The simplest way to do this is through visual identity, creating a strong new image and officially implementing a powerful nickname that is already widely used and accepted.