Ask Dr. Carter

There has been some discussion from several Alums about the university changing its brand.

I did notice on several pages of the website a new symbol or brand in the top left corner, "Become yourself. Change our world". I am not sure what the symbol represents.

I checked a few additional pages and could not find the Golden Bull symbol anywhere.  Here are my questions:

1. Has the brand been changed? If so, what does it represent?
2. Is the Golden Bulls still our symbol and mascot?
3. Please explain to us the process that went into this change, why was it implemented and what is the perceived benefit the school expects to accomplish from the change ?

Dear Alumni Leaders,

I have read the email thread regarding the possible replacement of the Golden Bull as the University’s mascot with great interest. I appreciate your passion about our institutional marks and obvious love for your alma mater. As the director of University Communications and Marketing, I, too, am very passionate about the University’s name and marks because I am charged with maximizing and protecting these precious images. Therefore, I feel compelled to respond to the email thread. I hope my response will help clear up misunderstandings.

University Communications and Marketing ensures that the University’s marks, which comprise our institutional identity, are used properly. We currently have three images that are used as visual representations of our identity depending upon the circumstance – the University seal, the Golden Bull mascot and the University logo. President Carter is correct when he says that the Golden Bull isn’t being replaced. The Golden Bull mascot and the University seal are alive and well! We will continue to use them on our publications, documents and paraphernalia. I believe it is helpful to clarify that the mascot and the University seal are not logos.

Like other higher education institutions, JCSU has employed branding as a means of building the University’s image and differentiating us in the marketplace. Developing a strong brand typically includes creating a logo that is a visual representation of the brand. Just as private sector companies periodically update and refresh their logos and taglines to remain competitive, colleges and universities do the same. JCSU is no exception. The competitive marketplace includes 103 other Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as thousands of predominately white universities (PWIs) that are seeking highly talented, highly motivated students, expert faculty and staff, and funding from public and private sources. Therefore, it is imperative that JCSU distinguish itself from the other 103 HBCUs while being competitive with PWIs.

As much as we love the Golden Bull, nearly every institution has a mascot, so that won’t distinguish us. Every institution also has a seal that usually includes Latin phrases, so that won’t distinguish us either. Our brand is what distinguishes us. JCSU engaged Stamats, one of the nation’s most highly-regarded higher education marketing firms, to conduct market research about JCSU and the public’s perception of our brand. Stamats conducted an online survey in which alumni, students, faculty and staff were invited to participate. The agency also held two Brand Boot Camp sessions that included Trustee Grover Smith, NAA President; Trustee Monroe Miller, chairman; and Trustee Shirley J. Hughes, vice chairperson. After careful and extensive market research that also included donors and corporate leaders, this new brand was created to carve JCSU’s niche and separate us from all other institutions. The logo and tagline were created by BooneOakley, one of the top marketing and advertising agencies in the Southeast. 

As the director of communications, I’m pleased to say that our new brand is gaining traction on the higher education landscape and has proved to have currency in the marketplace. Those of you who attended Commencement exercises on May 17 heard Tom Joyner, the speaker, make positive comments about JCSU’s brand promise and highlight our brand messages. Our brand vision has put us at the forefront of HBCUs by capturing the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other national foundations. We can all be proud that our brand is doing what it is intended to do.

I want our students, faculty, staff and alumni to become connected to our brand just as you are to our Golden Bull mascot and our University seal. On May 4, University Communications and Marketing held a very successful event on campus that introduced our brand to students, faculty and staff. Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, one of our major partners, has been so impressed by our new brand that the company sponsored the May 4 event. Because of that event’s success, we are working diligently to plan a brand launch for alumni during Homecoming 2015. Over the course of a few Homecoming activities, you will have the opportunity to learn more about our brand promise, brand attributes and brand vision as well as how to use our new logo and tagline in the communications you create for your chapters and classes. We’re excited about what we’re planning for you, and I personally invite you to attend our special session for alumni leaders on Friday, October 23. 

Thank you, again, for your love of dear old JCSU. I appreciate all that you do to serve as brand ambassadors for your alma mater as we work together to ensure that JCSU will be one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions for future generations. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. I look forward to seeing you at our Homecoming activities. Until then, continue holding high the Gold and Blue.


Sherri D. Belfield
Director, University Communications and Marketing

Brand information

This answer was posted on: 5/28/2015 10:34 am