The Evolution of a Brand: Rebranding Texas AdGrad into TAPR
In Spring 2009, Dr. Gary Wilcox selected five advertising master’s program students for a semester as the first social media team of Texas AdGrad. Their goal was to establish a presence for the Department of Advertising and Public Relations on the social media sites, which were continuing to grow in popularity. The students running the social profiles with Dr. Wilcox were getting hands-on experience with managing a social media portfolio, which was (and still is) a valuable skill set being requested by agencies and clients for young, new hires.
Fast forward to Spring 2017 and the department has been rebranded into The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations, and the Texas AdGrad social media team has grown to a class of nearly 30 undergraduate and graduate students. The social media portfolio managed by the team now includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Weibo, and YouTube. The class is split into three teams: original content, management, and analytics. Programs such as Spredfast, Google Analytics, and NUVI are utilized to manage the portfolio of social sites and analyze the influence of their original content, the traffic to the School’s website and engage with their following.
The original content team works on producing content highlighting the current happenings of students, faculty, alumni and industry. Covering career achievements, trends and innovations, the original content team produces text, photography and video content for the full portfolio of social media sites. Each semester, the content plays to the strengths of the unique students selected for the team. Some semesters, there is a strong interest and talent for video content. Other semesters, the team has strong writers and, therefore, the original content consists of more long and short-term pieces. During the Fall 2016 semester, Samsung lent the class a Gear 360 camera and VR headset to explore the process of producing, editing and viewing 360-degree photography and video. The team has enjoyed using the gear and will be posting new content in correlation with the Spring 2017 rebranding campaign. After hearing how much we loved its product, Samsung gifted the tech to the social media class to continue using. Thank you, Samsung and our rep Lillian Brown!
“The beauty of this class is that it’s a working lab of hands-on learning for the students,” said Dr. Wilcox. “It’s their voices that are representing the School.”
Always willing to listen to the ideas presented by the students in the class, Dr. Wilcox has been entertaining the discussion of rebranding Texas AdGrad for several years. There has been confusion in regards to who the true “AdGrads” are: graduate students, undergrads or alumni who are the graduates of the program. Additionally, the undergraduate program is advertising and public relations, yet the name only references advertising. So, Dr. Wilcox worked with faculty, alumni and several semesters of the social media class to identify the concerns about the Texas AdGrad brand and goals of what a new brand should address.
Some of the key goals of the rebranding were that the brand still be linked to The University of Texas at Austin, as it is the social media presence and representation of The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations. There also needs to be no confusion on whether the name is referring to graduate students or undergraduates. The intention is that all the School’s programs are included in the brand identity: advertising and public relations, of undergraduates, masters, and doctoral students, faculty, and alumni.
Many ideas were passed around, marinated on, nixed and morphed. Full whiteboards and walls of Post-its with acronyms, unique words and number variations ensued. Research was done on the top name variations, and those that had major conflicts or concerns were cut. Ultimately the name TAPR (pronounced “tap-er”), which obviously stands for Texas Advertising & Public Relations, was chosen by the team leads of the Spring 2017 social media class: Mary Dunn (Team Lead), Abby Bollinger (Original Content Team Lead), Merryn McNeil (Management Team Lead), Jessica Scaff (Analytics Team Lead) and Kaci Lambeth (Art Direction Team Lead).
Then came time for developing a new logo to go with the new name. The original logo was a star in motion that acted as a recognizable icon of Texas AdGrad for many years. The social media team collected nearly two dozen logo ideas from faculty, a Texas Creative course and the social media team. The top nine ideas were voted on by the social media class and narrowed down to the top three favorites. From there, the class voted on the final winner, designed by Kaci Lambeth, a Senior Advertising Major in the Texas Creative sequence and the acting Art Director for the social media class for the Spring 2017 semester. Her design was an evolution of the original star, keeping with the motion theme.
Rebranding Texas AdGrad into TAPR will involve more than just a name and logo change. Beyond changing profile handles and updating the cover photos as of March 22, the team will address classes and student organizations to increase student awareness of TAPR. The social media team will encourage all students to follow and engage with the School’s social media accounts for original content highlighting current students, faculty and alumni, organizations, campus life, industry news and internship/job opportunities.
The term “Texas AdGrads” is being gifted to The Richards School’s graduate students through the student organization, the Advertising Graduate Council (AGC). If you’re curious, the doctoral students are referred to as “Texas AdDocs” and have their own student organization, the Advertising Doctoral Society (ADS).
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