Few things in marketing are as effective or as powerful as brand recognition. A well-recognized logo creates a sense of familiarity for the consumer, and when paired with other successful marketing campaigns, can help viewers call to mind an organization’s brand story, history, and culture, simply by viewing the logo.
Good branding is essential for college campuses. Students, faculty, alumni, and college sports fans identify strongly with a university’s logos, colors and mascot. Whether you are part of the campus community, or visiting for the first time, seeing the colors and logo throughout the campus creates a strong sense of unity and reinforces the campus identity. This is a powerful statement to prospective students during campus tours.
Surprisingly, student rec centers are one of the areas that have lagged behind in using additional branding for a university. Rec centers are often highlighted and typically a high interest of perspective students on a campus tour. Increased dollar spent in additional branding in a rec center can go a long way.
“In my travels across the country, I see more schools recognizing the branding or lack of branding that they have in their facilities,” explained John Brey, Education Market Manager for Core Health & Fitness. “It has become more of a focal point to the interaction or connection the student has with their school. The student wants to be a part of the school and when they walk into their recreation center, they want to see the logo or mascot of their school as an identifier and proud moment of where they are.”
The University of Miami in Florida recently decided to improve their rec center image by showcasing 36 new pieces of branded commercial strength and cardio equipment in their rec center. This decision came in part from Scott Levin, the Executive Director, Department of Wellness and Recreation at the University of Miami. In his 33 years working in student recreation centers, this is the first time that he has ever purchased custom fitness equipment. He has been at the University of Miami for 3 years and was at Bowling Green and Georgia State prior. They were looking to increase the “wow” factor of their facility and settled on the decision to purchase custom equipment. The University of Miami logo is an internationally recognized symbol and so it seemed like an obvious choice when they were presented with an opportunity to put their logo in front of more people.
“All tours of the University come through the rec center,” explained Levin. “New students, families and other visitors see it every day. It looks so amazing on the equipment; such a simple symbol has such a powerful impact. For a minimal cost, it was a huge value.”
Machines can be purchased with custom colored frames and upholstery, however there are also simpler solutions like adding decals. Some commercial fitness equipment even allows for custom panels to be installed on the weight stack towers, like with Nautilus Inspiration. The custom panels are easy to install and make a dramatic visual presence in a facility. Even if you can’t budget to customize all the machines in your rec center, simply using custom pieces in the front row can really improve the impression your facility makes when guests walk through the door.
“Branding your fitness equipment with your university or department logo is a highly effective, low cost, and powerful way to enhance the ‘Wow Factor’ of any fitness facility,” added Levin. “It was virtually a no-brainer to show our school spirit by placing the U on all of our new strength equipment. Every prospective student and their family members tour the facility and specifically the fitness room, on campus wide tours. It’s all about the U…!”