External Affairs Task Force Holds First Meeting, Focuses on Branding

BATON ROUGE – The first meeting of the External Affairs Task Force of LSU’s Transition Advisory Team took place Wednesday, March 13, at the LSU AgCenter. The Task Force Group is part of the LSU2015 process for the reorganization of LSU.

The External Affairs Task Force is reviewing policy communication, coordination, and branding by focusing on governmental relations, message development and marketing, and production/back-office functions.

Michael Madnick, deputy director for external relations, Global Health Policy and Advocacy at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, opened the meeting with a discussion on his experience with branding in complex organizations.

Madnick touch on a variety of topics such as centralize branding, macro vs. micro branding, “hub and spoke” models for complex organizations and website cohesiveness. Madnick urged the group to celebrate growth and champion excellence from each area of the brand.

“In my experience, the overall brand benefits when the sum of its parts has a strong and dedicated capacity to the mission,” he said.

Following Madnick’s talk, LSU Communications & University Relations’ Holly Cullen, assistant vice chancellor, and Emaan Abdelbaki, director of marketing, provided an LSU Brand Overview to the task force.

After giving a brief history of LSU’s brand, Cullen presented the research and development that went into the university’s Love Purple Live Gold campaign. Cullen said the experience of the Love Purple Live Gold campaign has been “a highly collaborative journey,” and this collaboration has been extremely important to the branding efforts.

“We’re still learning as we go along, and we have learned a lot through the process,” she said.

Through research and the development of the campaign, Love Purple Live Gold was launched with purple being related to the passion and spirit, and gold representing academic excellence and athletic achievement.

“These words represent all of our constituents,” Cullen said. “This is who we are.”

Following the implementation of the Love Purple Live Gold campaign, the university saw successes in bringing in the largest freshman class since the university adopted admission standards in 1988, along with popularity of the slogan on campus and on merchandise.

Abdelbaki gave an overview of branding and the “brand essence,” which is the brand’s promise or essence expressed in the simplest, most single-minded terms. Abdelbaki talked with the task force about his national branding experiences from his time at XM Satellite Radio and the change the company went through when it was merged with Sirius Satellite Radio a few years ago.

Through all of his marketing experiences, Abdelbaki stressed the importance of research with any branding process and encouraged research to be gathered regarding LSU as a whole through the reorganization.

“We need to find out what people think about the overall organization and how we can control that reputation,” he said.

Abdelbaki closed the presentation by showing LSU’s previous “House of Brands” and how the Office of Communications & University Relations has worked to implement a “Branded House.”

Abdelbaki said that however LSU is structured in the future, it is important to have a consistent voice with a consistent brand and encouraged LSU’s constituents to work toward protecting the brand and make sure it’s being used properly.

Members of the External Affairs Task Force are Cullen; Frankie Gould, Director, LSU AgCenter Communications and Public Affairs; Rick Perry, Senior Vice President, Tiger Athletic Foundation, and Chris Vidrine, Director of External Affairs, LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans.

Task Forces have been formed to focus on specific areas of priority in the realignment process. During these meetings, testimony is provided by national and local subject matter experts. Reports and findings are discussed and input from the public is heard. Information from the Task Force meetings will become part of a final report to be submitted to the Transition Advisory Team and ultimately to the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Online video streaming is available at www.lsu.edu/tat for all reorganization-related meetings for those who cannot attend in person.

The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members, along with Task Force Group members, are available at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees.shtml.

More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.