Southern Miss rebrands with an inside-out makeover

The University of Southern Mississippi turned to its faculty, students and community to find out where it should focus, and its efforts resulted in two PR awards.

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Often, when you hear about a company or an institution rebranding itself, all you get is a new logo, a few billboards and perhaps some TV advertisements. For the administrators at the University of Southern Mississippi, it meant a lot more.

“It has to be from the inside out,” says university President Dr. Martha Saunders. “You can change the way a product looks, repackage it, put a new wrapper on it, but to brand an organization requires people. It’s more than just an image. It’s something people want to be a part of.”

Saunders’ and other Southern Miss administrators’ efforts over the past few years have paid off in increased enrollment, media coverage, alumni association membership and website traffic. The Public Relations Society of America has twice recognized the university with its Silver Anvil Award.

“Despite tough economic times, the campaign rallied the spirit of the university community and positioned the Southern Miss brand for the next level of national prominence,” a PRSA report on the university’s plan states.

Gauging opinion

When Saunders took office as university president in May 2007, she already had rebranding plans in mind.

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