Make Your Mark
2 min read
By: Rachael Pesch
What comes to mind when you hear “The University of Georgia?” SEC football. Athens. Journalism. But entrepreneurship? Probably not… yet.
The home of the Dawgs was determined to change that back in 2015 when they established the Entrepreneurship Program. Like every school in the SEC, competition is in their DNA, so part of the goal was to create a program that rivaled other universities. Their ultimate aspiration, though, was to make UGA a hub for entrepreneurship.
This past summer, Vista had the pleasure of collaborating with the Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Georgia and Program Director, Bob Pinckney, to strategically establish their new brand identity and positioning to raise the program's awareness. As a Bulldog alumni myself (Go Dawgs!), I was delighted that we had the opportunity dive in alongside other talented alumni. Steve, also having attended Georgia, had newly joined the Entrepreneurship Program Board and together we helped lead the Communications Committee in this early stage development.
When we came into the fold in May 2018, the Entrepreneurship Program had over 400 students. The Program, housed in the Terry College of Business (my home while at UGA), had conducted several national pitch competitions and incubated countless student businesses. A freshman learning community in Creswell Hall was about to launch. And a student incubator co-working space between campus and downtown Athens was under construction. Bob was ready to take the Program to the next level with the Board.
At Vista Growth, we seek first to understand. That was no different with the Entrepreneurship Program. To successfully tell their story, and uncover their better, different, special, we needed to do a deep dive. Why was the Program established? Who are the major stakeholders? What was the dynamic with Terry College? Where do they want to take it in the next 5 years? In other words, the focus was: KNOW THYSELF.
A perfect task to employ design thinking exercises exploring the Entrepreneurship Program’s purpose, the team boiled it down to one simple statement: To empower students and entrepreneurs to make their mark.
From there, our focus was outward: KNOW THY AUDIENCE. Once again, the committee diverged, naming many audience types. We then focused the list to six main players: The University of Georgia, University leadership, UGA alumni, corporate sponsors, the city of Athens, and the media.
Armed with an understanding on the Entrepreneurship Program’s purpose, future goals, stakeholders, and audience, we were ready to craft their story. One that both inspired student enrollment and alumni support.
The next step was to refresh the brand with a strong and memorable identity. Over the course of its three years as a program, the professors and students had begun to refer to it in the shorthand, “ENTR.” We agreed that “The UGA Entrepreneurship Program” was a bit too long. ENTR is succinct, unique, and memorable. Thinking about a logo, we went back to the purpose: To empower students and entrepreneurs to make their mark. A registered trademark is used by newly formed businesses to protect their logo, name, or associated words. The symbol is an "R" within a circle, perfect for ENTR.
To drive the message home, we added the tagline “Make your mark.” Student entrepreneurs can make their mark with their businesses. Corporate sponsors can make their mark through sponsorship and support. And alumni can make their mark through donations, raising capital, mentorship, or even participating as a judge at a pitch competition.
The circled “R” in the logo can also be interchanged with those who are making their mark: entrepreneurs, students, alumni, etc. The graphic circle has become the "maker's mark."
By the end of our engagement, ENTR had a refreshed brand identity, a tagline, a purpose statement, and a strong story to share with the world, bolstering their efforts in student recruitment, alumni support, and capital raising.
We look forward to seeing the program grow further in engagement, support, and reputation. ENTR is ready to make its mark.