Mathematics sophomore Elex Valdez said it was a great experience to walk into City Base Cinema 10 and see a commercial for the university he’s attending flash across the screen.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s “On A Mission” rebranding campaign is using commercials, billboards and online media to market to and actively recruit in the San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley for future Jaguars.
The university launched a rebranding project in February to help build stronger ties to the community and student body it was built to serve.
David Perryman, director of marketing and communications for A&M-San Antonio, said the budget for the project was set at $85,000 and is designed to be a five to ten year endeavor, with 12 to 18-month marketing and advertising campaigns throughout the term of the project, including commercial spots similar to the one Valdez saw at City Base Cinema.
“With all of the events and everything going on, I think students are starting to take pride in being at this university because it’s still fairly new,” Valdez said. “[A&M-San Antonio] is still trying to get a name for itself. And I believe the university is pointed in the right direction.”
Perryman said the program has two distinct features: The first is the brand platform, which is foundational and long-term. The second is the brand campaign, which is targeted and short-term.
Rebranding is one way of reinforcing the university’s connection to its home city, with the idea that A&M-San Antonio can become the university for San Antonio.
The immediate goal of the rebranding project is to boost enrollment and so far the numbers are looking good, Perryman said. One of the most effective ways to boost student enrollment is to get the university’s name out to the community and build brand equity, he added.
“We want to increase the number of students by about 1,000 students from last fall to the fall of 2018,” Perryman said. ”That’s the key metric I’ve got my eye on.”
According to the most recent data from the Office of Admissions, the total A&M-San Antonio applications (undergrad, transfer, graduate) received through March 2018 are up 10 percent over the same time period last year, Perryman said. The university is still in the early stages of the first campaign, so this signals the project is on track to meet and even exceed its objectives.
When university president Cynthia Teniente-Matson proposed the project, the Marketing department received project proposals from 17 firms. Perryman said his department selected four finalists, and from those selected SME Branding, a New York based company with an office in Austin, to head up the project.
“Typically it starts with research and that involves competitive analysis,” Perryman said. “That also involves auditing your current brand materials, that involves a lot of interviews, in-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys with internal and external constituents.”
So what’s changing and what’s not changing with the rebranding project? Perryman said it’s important people know the university is not going to change anything just for the sake of change. He said, “everything was on the table,” but it wouldn’t make sense to change things without knowing what things were working for or against the university.
SME Branding’s research identified some key areas for the university to focus on. The university logo did not change, but there are plans to introduce a shorter logo, from Texas A&M University-San Antonio to Texas A&M University-SA. Perryman said the research showed that the longer logo did not always work due to space constraints.
Perryman said one change was the school colors. They phased out the maroon color in favor of keeping the school colors exclusively silver and black.
“I like the silver and black,” Valdez said. “I’m not sure if it is was implemented because we’re in San Antonio and San Antonio is known for their Spurs, but I like it.”
Perryman said Texas A&M San Antonio wants to differentiate itself from Texas A&M University-College Station, which people readily identify by the color maroon.
“We want to be our own university,” Perryman said. “We are not Jaggies, we are Jaguars.”
C Arce, interdisciplinary studies sophomore, said she was not the biggest fan of the new Jaguar logo when it was implemented. She thought the old logo was more fierce, but after participating in one of the rebranding focus groups, she understands the university need to make changes for the rebranding project.
“Honestly, I really do think that we’re getting our name out there more,” Arce said. “I think we’re doing phenomenal.”
Students like education sophomore Sara Salmon support the rebranding project because they think there are still too many people who do not know about the university yet.
“We became our own entity in 2016, but before that I didn’t even know this school existed, Salmon said.
She said rebranding will help the outside community know who Texas A&M-San Antonio is and where the university is located. And it will also help current students know more about their own school, like the mascot and school colors.
The tag line for the current marketing campaign of the rebranding initiative is “On a Mission.” The idea of being mission driven is very central to the university. Matson said in a recent podcast published by The Mesquite that the campaign’s tagline just made sense with where the university is geographically more than anything.
“On a Mission is one that resonated,” Matson said. “When I saw the presentation, when I listened to the words, it was so simple. It is so perfect for us.”
The San Antonio Missions are central to who Texas A&M-San Antonio is because a lot of the “art and architecture is echoed and replicated in what we do here on campus,” Perryman said.
“The fact that we’re a military embracing university, one in six are military connected,” Perryman said. “And this idea of being on a mission resonates very strongly with military people; they know better than anybody about the importance of being on a mission.”
Texas A&M-San Antonio’s vision is to serve all students, but especially those from underrepresented communities like those on the South Side of San Antonio.
“Coming from the South Side of San Antonio, there’s not many options for going to a university,” Valdez said. “Now we have somewhere we can go and get an education instead of having to branch off and leave the family.”
Perryman said the campaign spans a 60-mile radius with digital billboards, online banner ads, Google ads and a word search campaign to target the ideal audiences. The way project leaders measure the success of the ad campaigns is through bi-weekly monitoring of general awareness and affiliation, the number of impressions and exposures, and more traffic to Texas A&M San Antonio’s homepage.
“One of the things that’s nice with the digital advertising is that you see which terms are working, which ads, which sizes are working best and you can then optimize,” Perryman said. “So then in the ensuing two weeks, you don’t show this ad as much and you show this ad more because this ad’s performing better.”
Perryman said there are building blocks that define a university, its values and attributes. The building blocks that make Texas A&M-San Antonio special are what they call The Brand Pillars.
“When we deliver an educational experience, there are four attributes or characteristics of that experience that really differentiate A&M-San Antonio from the others,” Perryman said.
These Brand Pillars are the foundation of the rebranding project and the platform that the university will use to help Texas A&M-San Antonio become the university for San Antonio:
San Antonio – More than just a city, San Antonio is our community and our home; it’s what binds us together and sets us apart from other universities.
Texas A&M System Family – We are part of the A&M System Family, bolstered by its tradition of excellence and enduring core values, forever connected to its global network of alumni, friends and donors.
The Future – Forward-thinking, focused on not only shaping the future, but actively building it in innovative ways that transform individuals and serve a greater good.
Breakthrough – We open doors, exceed expectations and shatter ceilings through hard work, high-impact learning and a relentless pursuit of our boundless potential.
For more information on the rebranding project go to: