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Georgia Tech: What is our brand?

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Our brand, what it means, how to grow its equity

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings FTRSers. This is my first shot on the vine from the header side of the column.

Under the watchful editorial review of the FTRS senior staff, I’ll be contributing some content periodically as much as is allowed. All in the spirit of supporting our program, its success and growth and all the temporal joy it provides to us as fans, alums and general supporters.

I start here with this contribution, in hopes, to stimulate some thought, dialogue and action amongst us “GT foot soldiers” out here in fields afar, representing the Institute, its brand and evangelizing it to the masses, at least those masses that care to give us a look-see and engage on the plane of good-natured discussion and dialogue.

What is the Georgia Tech Brand?

That’s a good place to start. In college athletics (and academics) brand identification is important. We are wise to consider our brand (as I hope the GTAA staff does), how to present it, how to promote it, and how to differentiate it in ways the make it attractive to new adherents and excite the continued passion of those of us already squarely in the support column as alums, fans and general supporters.

A few starting points:

  • Academic excellence and lifelong success: We are the pre-eminent technological/engineering school in the Southeast. Without argument one of the Top 5 in the nation. Without argument one of the Top 10 in the world along that dimension. We have a national reputation. We are known. We should always leverage that.
  • Athletic excellence in a unique way: The Total Person Concept (started by Dr. Homer Rice): The Total Person Concept approach to college athletics is the brainchild of Dr. Homer Rice … who (I believe) still lectures at Tech. It combines athletics with the integrated approach of ensuring that the Student Athlete “covers all the other bases” as part of the collegiate experience. Others may mimic or have their own version of this (oh no…the Carolina Way (hit the laugh button here)), but our program has been at the forefront for decades on this and as the landscape of college athletics shifted in the 70s and 80s, the Total Person Concept “put a stake in the ground” to establish and “hold the line” on not completely selling out to a crass commercial approach to college athletics.
  • History and Winning: YES. We have a history of WINNING and championship play in all sports. No, we haven’t been dominant in any sport for a long time (except perhaps Men’s Golf), but we have proven in EVERY sport that we CAN win at the highest level with the right personnel and the right system in place. We have a unique combination of academics, athletics, and history. We don’t need to “mimic” anyone else or try to follow their lead. I laugh internally when I hear suggestions that we should “be more like…Vanderbilt, Duke or Stanford…or (X) other private school”…. NO. We should not. They have their own great brands. But ours has its own unique equity and history that should be marketed for what it is without apology. It needs no apology.

Furthermore, in the heart of the SEC-centric fan mentality, we should stand apart from that. Not in any means to disrespect our SEC brethren. They can be proud of their brands and their schools. They have assets and history and it would be “low class” of us to engage in put downs. We should be who WE are and always strive to uphold the WHITE AND GOLD (as the song says).

How can we promote our unique Georgia Tech brand?

There are a few subtle (and perhaps not so subtle ways):

  • Make at least a small contribution to the program when, and if, possible: Everyone has priorities and a limit. Even $10 helps. Clemson’s famous IPTAY (I Pay Ten a Year) program started in the 70s is a good model. Their alumni base is no bigger than ours. They raise A LOT of money, and DRad has them on a mega-building campaign just like he did with us from 2006-12.
  • Buy tickets and attend games when you can: Again, all of us can’t attend all games all of the time. I can’t. But I go to the ones I can, and not just football and basketball. I’ve attended Baseball and Women’s Volleyball to name a few others.
  • Wear shirts and gear or put a small decal or sticker on your car: Look, I go to the gym a lot. And run a lot. I have at least 5 different GT shirts, including the one I covet the most: the SWARM STATEMENT shirt from our 2014 Orange Bowl triumph. It is hard not to notice that when it is worn in public or at the gym. It even gave me the guts to talk some "friendly smack” to a Notre Dame clad gym goer last year (uh…before we lost in South Bend).
  • Generally be positive about Tech, our program and where we are headed: Positivity is infectious. It feeds itself. When we are in the stadium, be loud and proud (and respectful toward others). Don’t complain. Support. Constructive criticism is good but always with a goal to make us better. Ranting in complaint just to vent without any perspective of measured analysis doesn’t help the program or the brand. All have a right to their views. That said, even when our teams don’t have quite the success we want, I have no doubt the coaches, staff and players are putting in MAX effort. If they weren’t , they’d be gone quickly. I don’t think any AD, or head coach, is going to tolerate less than total commitment from the teams. I certainly don’t think Paul Johnson is or does, nor does new basketball coach Josh Pastner, who seems wired from the get-go to build us a championship team in Men’s Basketball.

Thoughts from the blog? What say you Yellow Jacket faithful????