USF is Tampa Bay

USF will use a branding tactic to “tag” the university as being located in the Tampa Bay region.


From USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2011) – The University of South Florida will be using a new branding tactic to “tag” the university as being located in the Tampa Bay region.


It’s hoped the new effort – which does not change the university’s name or change its official logo – will provide a geographic identifier to the school. The “South Florida” reference in the university’s name often has people thinking USF is located in the Miami area.


“You have to think of the phrase ‘Tampa Bay’ as being more of a tweak, or a tag line to the university’s official name,” said Michael Hoad, USF’s vice president for communications. “We have to get past the confusion people have when they read ‘South Florida.’ “


USF is still experimenting with how the Tampa Bay reference will be added near the school’s official logo in its publications. It’s expected there will be several options available. That way, the use of the branding tactic can be flexible and fit different publishing scenarios, whether digital or print.


When USF was founded in 1956, there was not a lot of development south of the Tampa area. Now, “South Florida” is clearly identified with Miami-Dade. The confusion presents challenges to USF in marketing, branding and reputation.


This fall Hoad appointed a taskforce of USF faculty, staff and students to examine USF’s national reputation. Part of the charge to the taskforce was to look at the university’s name and decide what, if anything, should be done to help change perspective. USF’s surveys of national reputation show that outside of the state, people routinely confuse Florida’s universities. It’s difficult to differentiate the cluster of letters for USF, FSU, UCF, FAU and FIU.


The taskforce endorsed branding USF as being part of the Tampa Bay region with the phrase, “USF IS Tampa Bay.” A small billboard has been erected on Fowler Avenue west of the campus to test the brand.


The tag line was developed primarily for the Tampa campus, Hoad said. The USF System institutions in St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee already use a geographic reference, and the Lakeland campus brands Polytechnic.


“Adding Tampa Bay should help with our branding,” Hoad said. “This is not a push to change the official name of university or the official logo. But we want to be clear and accurate on where USF is located.”