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Three Questions to Ask before Rebranding: NSU As a Case Study

This summer, I got to attend a conference session at Norfolk State University in which an NSU marketing team shared the rebranding process they underwent last year. The university went from an outdated logo to a well-thought-out visual identity.

Norfolk State University - old logo with Spartan helmets

Norfolk State University - new logo with prominent campus building

The NSU rebranding team shared a few key questions they asked themselves to ensure the final product met the university’s needs.

1) How recognizable is the current brand?

Even though the style of Coca-Cola’s current logo dates back to the late 1800s, the product’s brand recognition is so strong that completely rebranding might be a poor move. For lesser-known companies, brand recognition can be even more valuable for customer retention.

The new design must reference the old brand while updating the style. There are often some non-negotiable legacy elements that must be kept; for instance, although NSU changed its logo drastically, its school colors remained green and gold.

2) How will stakeholders react to the rebrand?

NSU involved stakeholders (students, faculty, parents, alumni, donors, etc.) in focus groups and surveys throughout the rebranding process. Getting feedback from stakeholders can have double benefits: you learn about their needs and expectations, and the respondents also feel heard and involved in the process. At NSU, this involvement was crucial because students and other stakeholders needed to take pride in the new brand.

3) How will you implement the brand and measure success?

Rebranding is pointless unless the company is benefitted. The marketing team will decide how to present the rebrand to the public and measure its impact. For example, NSU observed enrollment growth and improved public perception after a targeted marketing campaign.


It seems like businesses are constantly redesigning their brands and websites, and it’s important to realize that the rebranding process takes time and effort… and can eventually have a huge impact.

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