USC: making the brand
There is a scene in the movie Dave where
the president (Kevin Kline) questions an auto advertisement
program in the federal budget. To quote Kline, “we’re
spending money to make people feel better about cars they’ve
President Dave, meet the University Students’ Council.
As part of its plan to increase its visibility around campus,
the USC is beginning an extensive branding campaign by placing
the council’s new logo directly onto the various operations
that the USC runs.
There is undoubtedly a segment of the student population that
has no idea about the breadth of USC operations, but the USC
already has a strong presence in the University Community Centre
atrium in addition to posting a list of its operations on the
USC website and in the Westernizer. If some students still
don’t know who takes such a large portion of their student
fees, then there’s not much you can do about their ignorance.
In advertising circles, the purpose of creating brand awareness
is to identify the company with the product (eg. how we call
all tissues “Kleenex”). However, in this case,
the USC isn’t trying to attract new business — they
already have our money. Students will go to The Used Bookstore
or The Spoke because they are convenient, on-campus spots for
books and food.
Nobody is going to see a logo on a new plasma screen and think, “The
USC is super!” Instead, they would ask why their student
dollars are being wasted on advertising instead of improvement. “Brand
awareness” could quickly backfire into resentment.
Furthermore, openly branding student media with the USC logo
could indicate to some students that the council is controlling
the output, an impression that is both inaccurate and harmful
to students’ understanding of the media’s autonomy.
If the USC is really concerned about impressing the average
Western student with its services, the council could just (get
this) improve the services rather than spend student money
promoting them. Instead of putting a USC logo on Wave napkins,
the USC should put that cash towards hiring more service staff.
The best form of advertisement is word-of-mouth, especially
among such a fickle crowd as university students.
The USC prides itself on being the largest and most comprehensive
students’ council in Canada, and it is perhaps natural
that its members want Western students to be aware of this
fact. USC communications officer Dan Perry insists that the
USC is “not going corporate,” but how else can
you describe an organization that promotes its own agenda ahead
of the needs of the consumers (a.k.a. the students)?
That kind of reputation leaves a much more lasting impact
than any logo.