Former Office of Emergency Preparedness partners with FAS Communications to rebrand and promote its evolving mission
Major winter freezes, damaging hailstorms, historic tornadoes, and an unprecedented pandemic. The past two years’ events have brought significant changes to how The University of Texas at Austin responds to emergencies. In response to these changes, the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP), which historically focused on the prevention of and preparedness for emergencies, decided to expand its efforts to include all phases of emergency management response: prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery.
Because OEP’s name no longer reflected the new scope of their services, they researched other higher education organizations to analyze language and word choices in relation to work and services and quickly recognized that they needed a name change and help with updating their branding. This semester, OEP officially changed its name to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) based on their research of other similar higher education offices.
“This name change was important because it provided a clear direction and focus for our office and displays our commitment to the university community in all aspects of emergency management,” said Jonathan Robb, OEM director.
In addition to changing their name, OEM chose to revitalize their current culture by implementing key management components and training personnel on the understanding and utilization of emergency management functions before, during and after an emergency or disaster. The office also focused on developing and implementing professional growth opportunities for its staff.
Next OEM concentrated on how their work and services had outgrown the current branding and their need to rethink how they wanted to communicate their role going forward to ensure they were effectively and accurately communicating their mission. It was at this point that OEM reached out to FAS Communications to help formulate a strategy for rolling out their reimagined brand—a process also known as rebranding. Rebranding is a marketing strategy that organizations use when giving a new name, symbol, or change in design for an already-established brand—with the goal being to create a new or expanded identity for the organization.
“Branding and rebranding are important parts of our business units’ identities because it’s all about how they present themselves to their clients and partners, both internal and external to the university,” said Kerri Battles, director of FAS Communications.
“OEM approached our team because we are the marketing and brand experts for FAS, and we have a deep understanding not just of the mechanics of rebranding such as new wordmarks, but also of the amount of time, effort and collaboration needed to be successful,” Battles added.
“When Jonathan Robb contacted us,” she continues, “he already had done an incredible job of researching other organizations. Our office provided direction and a plan on how to roll out this change in a controlled way to ensure consistent use of the new brand.”
Rebranding is often likened to an organization shedding an old skin in lieu of a new one. Typical steps involved in rebranding include revising or creating new assets such as:
- Business Unit mission/description
- Websites including partner website content
- Logos, collateral materials, print and social media graphics
- Branded email inboxes, list serves and email signature lines
“This rebrand is a good example of our FAS core value of teamwork at play,” Battles said. “Jonathan and his team understand their work better than anyone and our communications team understands the strategic marketing methods needed to help our clients achieve their goals. Together we were able to put together a plan that will make this rebrand relatively painless and a success.”
Robb agreed and added, “Innovation is another FAS core value demonstrated in this change. By cultivating a culture of innovation in our office, we were able to recognize that there was a need for enhancements to emergency management following recent incidents at the university and our rebranding and strategic changes will help satisfy those needs moving forward.”
OEM is part of the Office of Campus Safety and works closely with other campus safety departments, Environmental Health & Safety, Fire Prevention Services, The University of Texas Police Department, Facilities Services, Athletics, Parking & Transportation Services, and the Dean of Students to build a disaster resilient university.