What happens when a friendly little university starts thinking about changing its big, clumsy name? Here is a poignant example: Way up in Bottinneau, North Dakota, a little town on the Northern Plains a stone's throw from Canada, Minot State University-Bottinneau is pondering its brand identity.
About 550 smiling, hardy students call Minot State University-Bottinnea their citadel of higher education, and some have voted to change the name Minot State University-Bottinneau to something briefer, we presume, and "more distinctive," according to university officials who've posed the question.
At the same time, other students – as well as some teachers, staff and alums – oppose changing the name. So far, no consensus has been reached.
Brandsinger salutes the gallant participants in this struggle. As a grizzled veteran of many agonizing debates over whether to change an institution's name, I have seen the captives of nostalgia battle the eye-rollers of reason. One group honors the past and respects the inherited name. The other cringes indignantly at a name that broadcasts a dated, irrelevant image.
It's not fun! And now that a survey of interested parties has been conducted, it ain't going to be easy.
Branding professionals recommend conducting a thorough analysis of the current name – its origins, uses, value and disadvantages – and then evaluating a series of strategic options that would address identified problems.
In this case – in every case! – the ultimate solution depends on what the institution wants to be – and who the audiences for its programs are. If little Bottinneau is stable... the college functioning peacefully... people content... little change ahead... then the clumsy name can stay at little harm.
But perhaps Minot State University-Bottinneau lies in a region bursting with growth. Perhaps its curriculum is evolving to meet market needs... Perhaps expansion is in the winds... with new funding... and plans to attract students from, say, faraway Florida? If strategy demands the support of a new brand image, then a new name is needed.
Though unasked, brandsinger endorses the word Bottinneau. We savor the sound... the Frenchy-ness... the bursting B and the cavalier ending. A lot can be done with this word... There is something rock-solid and noble-sounding in Bottinneau State or Bottinneau Polytechnic or Bottinneau Institute of Natural Studies or The Bottinneau School of the Arts... or perhaps THE BOTTINEAU SCHOOL OF BRAND SCIENCE.
If strategic change is in the wind, brandsinger urges the university to drop the "Minot State" part – What is this, imperial domination of a sister town? – and build the big, beautiful, boisterous Bottinneau brand.