Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2017 - 48
The University of Texas
brand, but also one that understood the ever-changing retail
market, he adds. "We have a great
partner in Nike, our football and equipment partner, but wanted to offset that with
other branding," Westemeier explains. "However, 289c Apparel is helping us get away from looking like another college entity."
Westemeier notes that he thinks the majority of retailers
put all colleges into one bag. Associate Athletics Director
for Strategic Relations Jeff Orth agrees, noting that UT has
many "built-in advantages" that differentiate it from other
These include its association with the state of Texas, longhorn silhouette logo, and the university's history of academics and sports accomplishment.
"We want to have more control over how our brand is
presented so that we can increase brand affinity," Orth says.
"One way we're tackling this is with our new brand 'We Are
Texas.' Not all college brands can have their own label.
"We felt this was a forward-thinking game-changer to
To differentiate itself from other universities,
UT is playing up its association with the state of
Texas and the longhorn silhouette logo.
w i t h
to create our brand,
and have more input into
how we represent our brand to our
consumers," he continues.
Orth notes that UT's old model gave
manufacturers the right to use UT's
trademarks on their products as they
saw fit. However, in UT's current
model, the university can now provide input when creating a product. "This gives us the ability to
dial up and dial down different
brand attributes as we see fit
based on market conditions,"
"We've added our branding in
the neck label and hangtags, and are working with
retailers to improve communications at the point-of-sale,"
When it comes to choosing its partnerships, UT not only
takes a company's brand positioning into consideration,
but also consumers' perceptions of the brand. According to
Orth, it's very important UT keeps the right company. He
adds that standard was set when UT partnered with Nike
"They are a really important relationship to us as we realized the power of the company you keep while working
with them," he says. "We started looking at all of our relationships, and becoming selective moving forward with new
ones because we want to ensure they represent the same
As UT moves forward with its current and new partnerships, it aims to remain consistent in its brand messaging
and grow its product footprint at retail, including its hardline products. "This is key when tackling our challenge of
a very broad consumer base in terms of the target demographics we have," Westemeier says. "We're not just looking
at the high-end consumer; we're looking at the consumer
across the board.
"That's the next step for us to monitor and focus on," he concludes. "We have to figure out how to position ourselves, and
grow strategically, to maintain our broad consumer reach without losing the premium aspect of what our brand represents." O