BC OR BC?

Social media is arguably a channel used for branding. With every tweet or post there is a perfect little squared logo right beside it. If you see a logo enough times it may just prompt you to read further or, stop following. Boston College has two distinct logos; the official seal logo and the athletic logo. The official seal calls back to Boston College’s historical academic tradition. This logo is intended to resonate with the University’s overarching mission. The athletic logo is italicized and conveys a certain energy that is synonymous with athletics. If you compare the social media accounts of Boston College and Boston College Athletics you’ll find that the ratio of tweets per followers is higher with the athletics account versus the BC main account. The BC main account boasts more followers which makes perfect sense. What is interesting is that the number of tweets between the two accounts isn’t all that different; 17.5K (athletics) vs 19.4K (academic). The athletic logo, though appearing to a smaller audience has almost been presented just as many times as the official seal.

logo 2

BC’s (www.bc.edu) Alexa rank (US) is 3643 and http://www.bceagles.com is (US) 30,161. Clearly, there is more traffic on BC’s main site, but what is interesting is that you rarely see the official seal of the college on the site’s pages. Instead, you’ll notice the ‘Boston College’ scala font on the header. In contrast, the BC Eagles website shows their logo front and center. Though the numbers play in favor of the University as a whole generating more exposure in comparison to its athletic department, both entities use the logo in very different ways. If we conduct a Google image search on simply ‘Boston College logo’ you’ll notice that the athletic logo greatly outnumbers the official seal.

bc logo

What does this tell us about the two entities? I’m not entirely sure if there is a strategy in place to be reserved with the official seal in regards to branding, I would say that it would be interesting to find out which logo students feel is more recognized in comparison to what outsiders feel the official BC logo is. I can attest to thinking that the athletic logo was the official brand/logo of Boston College, it was only till I started working at Boston College when I realized that the seal was in fact the official logo. I wondered how other schools presented their logos. I did a Google search for Harvard logos and noticed that the Harvard seal did in fact come up more frequently in search results.

harvard

I also noticed that the Harvard athletic logo didn’t nearly have the same energy as the Boston College logo, it didn’t look nearly as athletic, in fact, it looked almost like the same “H” that was used on Harvard’s seal. Also interesting to note is the Harvard Athletics Twitter account tweets twice as much as BC, but does not have as many followers, 14.5K compared to 17.4K. Harvard’s main Twitter account has whopping a 538K followers. What does all this mean? I can only make assumptions and my assumptions might be obvious to most. I gather that different institutions play to their strengths in regards to their strategy in leveraging social media. It goes without saying that the Boston College athletic program is among the best programs in the east coast, and the football program is nationally recognized as a top contender in the Division 1 NCAA ACC. Harvard’s world wide appeal as one of the best universities clearly explains the 538K followers. While their athletic program is strong, it doesn’t draw the same crowds for a football game as Boston College does. In conclusion, I think it is fair to assume that there is a strategy involved in communicating visual information and a strategy in disseminating that visual information. The two strategies that are behind creation and dissemination should arguably go hand in hand. As a result, analysis of social media accounts can certainly give you insight to the strengths of an institution or business.

9 comments

  1. I also thought that the BC Athletics logo was the official logo, and that the seal was only for when letters were sent out. It’s interesting that if you Google BC logo the athletics logo comes up more often, but I think it’s because the athletics logo is more widely seen than the official logo. It’s on everything in the bookstore, and that is obviously how they’re selling the brand. In addition, you can tell with the athletics logo that it’s very clearly representing Boston College, whereas with the official seal, you really can’t tell what it’s saying. Overall, an interesting post about logos and branding!

  2. And to add insult to injury – what’s with the two logos for the Carroll School of Management?? I’ve been at least equally as confused about the as I have about the official BC logo. CSOM has one that’s a square with maroon background and white lettering, and another rectangular one with black background, and the BC seal next to the school’s name. And then there’s several other variations as well. Surely at least here they could be more consistent? For BC it at least makes some sense, contrasting the dignified seal highlighting ancient wisdom and knowledge vs the aggressive, dynamic athletics logo. But CSOM is not doing itself any favors. I’m glad you brought this up and shared your ideas and reasoning for the branding issues as BC!
    PS: Gotta love that one BU logo that snuck into the Google search results! ;)

    1. Great points, I didn’t even realize that there were two different logos for the school. I know that when I use CSOM in Linkedin it corresponds to the athletic logo.

  3. Thanks for Sharing. I totally agree that BC’s athletic logo is much more dominant, around us. Your analysis of the BC brand is exactly what we study in professor Gerald Smith’s brand management class. Whats interesting is that we all had the same confusion with regards to the BC logo. People can easily mistake and mix the two. It is good to have such a strong athletic branding, but doesn’t that also hurt the brand image when people don’t even know which logo BC stands for ? Moreover, I really liked how you used Alexa as a tool to analyze the brand. I think Boston College stands out in its athletic teams and students, but someone has to manage the university’s branding, better. Don’t you think? Again, a very interesting post with unique content. We can all totally relate to the topic chosen. Great Job!

  4. Thank you; I agree it is definitely good to have a strong brand/identity. I recently did a google search for Duke logos and came across more athletic logos. I would say it all depends on the strength of the school in question.

  5. Interesting topic! I am yet another confused student/graphic designer about the meaning and usage of these different variations of school logos. Besides echoing the three comments above, I guess the important lesson here is that not only should brand managers have concrete strategies on how to represent their brands ( logo is just one aspect of the visual presentation, and visual presentation is only one aspect of the overall presentation ), but they also need to make sure such strategies are being communicated and implemented consistently within the organization. Large traditional organizations need special efforts on implementing thorough communication, fighting hierarchy and bureaucracy to make sure the branding message doesn’t get lost on all fronts.

  6. I enjoyed reading your blog. I would agree with you that “analysis of social media accounts can certainly give you insight to the strengths of an institution or business.” I work at BC and use the official logo strictly for business. You are quite right in noting that the athletic logo have a greater presence on campus and surely on social media. If you take a stroll in the BC Bookstore or visit the website you will also notice that the athletic logo mostly appears on its merchandise. BC is surely known for its Football and Ice Hockey teams. Boston College improved its ranking from 31st to 30th among national universities in the 2016 US News & World Report survey. I wonder if BC’s official logo will have more of a social media presence as the university’s ranking improves. Check out the below websites for other recent BC rankings.
    http://www.bc.edu/offices/pubaf/news/2015-sep-oct/Boston-College-among-top-30-in-2016-US-News-survey.html
    http://www.bc.edu/offices/pubaf/news/2014-mar-apr/BC_Carroll_School_of_Management_Ranked_4th_in_US.html

  7. This is a very interesting topic. The two logos for Boston College represent virtually completely different things, but I find both extremely appealing and it just adds to the overall impression that Boston College has nationally (to employers, fans, etc.) that we are a well-rounded student body. Schools like Ohio State pride themselves in their hyper-athletic marketing, while schools like Harvard have their academic seal showing up so frequently in the Google search results. Boston College has a mix of both our battle-eagle and athletics logo as well as our academic seal, and honestly they both work together to make BC so much more compelling as a whole!

  8. Fascinating insight into the different brand images that BC is trying to convey via alternating brand images. Faizan definitely has a good point that different schools will definitely favor one logo over another depending on the overall identity that the school is trying to promote. I would be curious to see some marketing research about what each logo inspires. My first impression is that the athletic logo seems to be much more commercialized, especially as BC profits so much off of its athletics. Meanwhile, the official seal offers the image of a prestigious place of academic excellence. Both sports and academics seem to be 2 of the largest selling points for the admissions department. Great research showing that BC seems to be promoting both images somewhat equally.

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