“When higher education branding professionals look back in years to come, they will realise that this was the time when pivotal branding decisions were made.” That was how Georgina Edsel, our Deputy Head of Brand Management, reacted to the two dramatic changes in university branding that were widely reported in the branding press this week.
In the first of these changes, Queen Mary University of London threw caution to the winds and boldly announced that it would be outlawing such familiar shorthand versions of its name as QM, QMUL, QMU, QMW and QMWC. All these traditional versions would henceforth be jettisoned in favour of a daringly terse new abbreviation – QML.
Ms Edsel told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that she not only admired the “admirably authoritarian manner” in which this change had been presented to staff – “Start using QML on all documentation”; “Use QML in place of ‘the university’ ” – but also the extraordinarily useful before-and-after examples given in the change document. She instanced the following “helpful” illustrations:
Before “It is also important to note that QM will retain its status as a member of the University of London”
After “It is also important to note that QML will retain its status as a member of the University of London”
Before “QMUL on social media”
After “QML on social media”.
But this revolutionary rebranding by QML (formerly, of course, better known as QM, QMUL, QMU, QMW or QMWC) was, said Ms Edsel, still “almost modest” alongside the even more profound rebranding exercise undertaken in Scotland, where the former “University of Abertay Dundee” had “in a veritable sea change” transformed itself almost overnight into merely “Abertay University”.
What gave this change its especial significance, said Ms Edsel, was the “professional recognition” by the Abertay University Communications Centre (formerly the University of Abertay Dundee Communications Centre) that the new name was “shorter” than the old one. But this was not all. The Abertay University Communications Centre also went on in its change document to point out that the new name (“Abertay University”) had the merit of sounding “much friendlier” than “The University of Abertay Dundee”.
Ms Edsel described both statements as “masterful examples of branding expertise in action”. “‘Abertay University’ was indeed a shorter formulation than ‘The University of Abertay Dundee’; and one had only to say the two names aloud several times – The University of Abertay Dundee – Abertay University – The University of Abertay Dundee – Abertay University – to realise the much greater friendliness of the latter designation.”
In conclusion, Ms Edsel expressed to Ponting the hope that her remarks on these branding changes had not been too specialised for those unversed in the higher reaches of branding theory.
She also told our reporter that she had been inspired by these two examples to issue a reminder to all staff of the importance of vocalisation when referring to our own university. For although “PU” was an appropriate abbreviation for “Poppleton University”, when spoken aloud care should be taken to place an equal emphasis upon both letters as in “Pee You”, rather than using the “phonetically ambiguous abbreviation ‘Poo’ ”.
She hoped that this now clarified the branding situation.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
“After last week’s session on Fundamentals of Transcendental Meditation, two secret mantras were left behind in the seminar room.If you wish to claim one of these, please write to the office marking your letter either ‘Shrim’ or ‘Ayinga’.”