Mural part of Towson University rebranding
When Towson University lost in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title game, it wanted to celebrate.
Not at the moment. And not because it fell short, but because the team deserved better than “runner-up.” The Tigers didn’t win the championship, but finishing second in the nation was nothing to hang their heads over.“There weren’t a lot of examples out there of people promoting second place, and that’s unfortunate,” said Roy Brown, Towson’s senior associate director of athletics, marketing and communications. “I think you should. You played in the national championship game, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Towson started from scratch, creating a logo that would recognize the team as a championship finalist. The image was put on a banner that now adorns one side of the fieldhouse, in clear view of the football team each time players run into the locker room.
The banner was part of two projects at Towson University, where BigSigns.com helped spruce up the athletic facilities. It not only revitalized some of campus’ most frequently visited places, but it also aided in the program’s ongoing rebranding efforts.
“Consistency is very important,” Brown said. “Having a comprehensive vision is important, and if you haphazardly start putting up different logos on different buildings and it’s not consistent with your vision, it looks like a hodgepodge of graphics in your facilities.
“That (football) mural was very consistent with what we’ve done.”
At the university’s baseball stadium, the program hung windscreens along the backstop to improve the aesthetics. It previously used a steel backstop, which collected all the scuffs and dents that might be expected after blocking thousands of fastballs.
The mural was the prize of the project. It stands more than 15 feet high and 18 feet wide, making it difficult to miss for fans and players. The university was able to get it raised last summer, right before the football season began.
Everyone sees the finished product, but few have any idea of the work that was put in behind the scenes. Simply throwing graphics on a banner could have been a detriment of the program’s vision, so it was critical that everything fall in line with the master plan.
Students at Towson might notice stadium signage slowly changing over time, and that’s no mistake.
“Naturally, you don’t update all graphics or do the softball windscreen, tennis windscreen or soccer windscreens all at the same time,” Brown said. “A lot of these are phased in … and the vision needs to be the same a year from now when we do, say, the softball field. It’s always important to have a vision and theme.”
That vision needed to be shared by all programs, and the athletic department kept that in mind when hanging a mural for the football team’s appearance in the national title game. The stadium is used by the lacrosse, field hockey and track teams, so it was necessary to get buy in from other coaches before hanging the banner.
“We said this is the bigger picture, and this success is everyone’s success,” Brown said.
The reaction was as positive as anyone hoped for. Alumni were ecstatic that the program was promoting its trip to the title game, and the players took a lot of pride in the recognition.
There is an aesthetic element to all of the athletic program’s branding efforts, but it’s about much more than that. If it can have an emotional impact on those at the university, then it’s truly a success.
“When your facilities can evoke emotions of pride, passion and school spirit, you know that you got it right,” Brown said. “When a student-athlete walks onto that field and sees that windscreen and it’s cool and aggressive, they stand there and go, ‘That’s why I’m a Tiger.’”
Patrick Pagano, who handles facilities and event management at the university, said it’s hard to believe the improvements wouldn’t have an impact on recruiting, and that’s all part of the plan. The mural certainly serves as a reminder for how far Towson University has gone and where it plans to go in the future.
“The visiting teams too,” Pagano said. “When they come in they’re not playing in a dump and the place is nice and clean. They’re excited to be here.”
Branding is becoming a bigger part of college athletic programs, but it requires intense planning and research to get the desired outcome.
Brown urges other departments making similar efforts to do their homework and identify what has worked and what hasn’t at other institutions.
“Allow more time than you think you need for the creative process,” he said. “You should take your time and make sure it’s done right. When it comes to branding, that’s your identity. You have to get it right.”