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Arizona State Reinvents Brand with “It’s Time”

May 9, 2011 Events, Major Gifts No Comments

Through the “It’s Time” campaign, the Arizona State Sun Devils announced both an athletic and campus wide rebranding effort.  The school made the announcement at an April 12 press conference, after releasing a series of teaser videos online to build excitement.  Over the past 12 months the school, in collaboration with Nike, developed a strategy for the rebranding of the Sun Devils.  They utilized feedback gathered from focus groups and student-athletes, coaches, students, faculty, alumni and fans which resulted in three main recommendations.  These included having a secondary color scheme for uniforms, a specific ASU Athletics font, and a new trademark logo. 

Both ASU and its licensees are hoping to benefit from the newly released athletic apparel.  Currently the school brings in approximately $1 million in merchandise sales per year.  It is predicted that within the next 3 years that number will double.   However increased apparel revenue is not the only reason ASU decided to rebrand itself.  According to Associate Athletic Director Steve Hank, “its more about creating an image and a brand that reflects the image we want to project.”  Fans will be reenergized by the launching of a new era of Sun Devil Athletics when the latest uniforms are launched in the fall of 2011 along with the “All-Black” color scheme which is something similar to what the ASU football team wore back in the 1950s.

The Sun Devil Club has been very involved in the whole rebranding process.  The ASU athletic department’s fundraising arm took this opportunity to update its website and to include the new logo and color scheme.  A neat new feature on the site is the inclusion of a rebranding donor solicitation video which at the conclusion automatically takes viewers to a membership sign up page. Additionally an anonymous donor has stepped up and will pay for all of the new uniforms for each of the school’s 21 athletic teams.  This was an important part of ASU’s rebranding communication as the school made it clear that it used very little if any tax payer money for the It’s Time initiative

Furthermore, the Sun Devil Club treated its members to an exclusive unveiling of the new uniforms a few days before the public announcement.  Donors could pay $25 to attend the event and were asked to help preserve the secrecy of the rebranding before the April 12 press conference by not bringing their cell phones and other recording devices. 

The rebranding initiative comes at an interesting time as ASU received approval this past fall to use a local business fee to support renovations to Sun Devil Stadium.  A makeover of the historic facility, which opened in 1958, along with It’s Time would certainly usher in a new era of Sun Devil Athletics.  Furthermore, the Pac 10 (soon to be Pac 12) recently went through a major rebranding effort as did in-conference rival Washington State which was also organized by Nike.  The It’s Time campaign is a wonderful example of how to best utilize social media to generate buzz and create excitement surrounding an announcement of this kind for an athletic department.  Additionally, development offices are always looking for new ways to give their members behind the scenes access.  The Sun Devil Club did an excellent job of taking advantage of this opportunity to provide that for their donors. 

Drew Ossakow

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