160over90 began taking picture and documenting campus this week as the next step in the University’s rebranding initiative, as part of an effort to find what makes UNM tick and potentially market that down the road.
Tammo Walter, chief creative officer and principal at 160over90, said photo shoots are being done to have photographic material, or “branded photos,” for the rebranding.
“Having a bank of images to work with that fit well into the overarching brand is something of importance,” he said. “Where you can tap into all different kinds of scenarios, from academic situations to dorm life or student life to athletic portions or events.”
Walter said they are exploring various aspects of UNM campus, taking photos of components like students, faculty and the architecture.
“We’ll capture as much as we can at any given time,” Walter said. “Authenticity is what we’re trying to get to.”
160over90 has enlisted the help of local photographers and at least one of them being a photography student from UNM, he said, so that the effort is being done collaboratively.
As an agency, 160over90 recognizes that they can never accomplish everything that is needed in regards to marketing or communication across campus, he said.
“It really is in everyone’s best interest, and certainly our interest, to empower internal resources as much as we can so they can help drive the brand forward and communicate what it's all about,” Walter said.
A comprehensive project
Overall, the campaign has only just begun, and the photo shoots are just the next phase in a long process. One thing to keep in mind, with any branding, is it’s an ongoing process, Walter said.
“Sometimes people have expectations that different parts or elements of branding change overnight; that rarely happens,” he said. “You can have a brand element, like a logo, that switches from one day to another but a brand is so much larger than just a set of colors or a font or a logo.”
Walter said with an institution like UNM, where there is a certain size and complexity, not everyone is being reached from one day to another and rebranding takes time. As an agency, 160over90 typically embarks on an assignment with a very open mind.
“We look at it as like a blank sheet on day one, and then we take as much in as we can,” Walter said. “Understanding is the most important part. We’re not brought in to put an image or stamp or footprint on this institutional brand that is inauthentic.”
That includes spending days on campus, talking to and interviewing hundreds of students, gaining insight, touring campus and looking at existing research and assets.
As for the future, the team is currently planning out the different puzzle pieces that are part of the brand and can help drive a change in perception. Part of that involves numerous outreach efforts being done over the last few months on campus by 160over90, he said.
UNM Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Cinnamon Blair, said she is pleased with the participation that has come out of these efforts, such as the brand rollout and research; including surveys, educational sessions and workshops.
One of the more recent efforts from the company, has been the brand workshops involving different groups on campus, such as those being held at Zimmerman Library, the Health Sciences Center and the School of Law Library.
“We’ve been having these little workshops so that people really understand what we’re doing and how they can integrate it into their own areas,” Blair said. “We’re trying to empower people to speak with one voice.”
For the workshops, an internal team fields requests from specific schools, colleges and programs at UNM.
“It’s really just to bring people in so that they can ask us questions and that we can optimize what we’re doing,” Blair said.
An approach of authenticity
Blair said the rebranding has to transcend the present and those involved in the current efforts.
“It has to be something that’s really about the University and not about me, my department, the president, the regents, the student body president, whoever was involved,” she said. “It really needs to be something that can be carried forward for years.”
Walter said the campus research and workshops are integral to the initiative because a brand depends on everyone that makes up that particular brand.
“Our job is to help tell a story that might have not been told and make people really understand,” he said. “To really bring out what already exists.”
To that end, over the next few years, 160over90 will continue to work on what’s been developed so far and make its way to different brand points, whether it's an ad campaign, development or something else.
Walter said, as a brand, it should really be something overarching.
“When we talk about perception and familiarity, we want people in-state and out of state to understand what this institution really has to offer,” he said. “It’s one thing to be aware of a brand and knowing UNM exists. It’s a different thing to know what they stand for; what makes it a great institution.”
Walter said 160over90 would never take an approach of putting something artificial into a brand.
“This is a really cool place,” he said. “That’s an awesome story to tell. There’s nothing that needs to be fabricated, it’s all there, the ingredients are all there.”