Explore UAB

To better understand what the UAB brand represents, how we see ourselves, and set the stage to answer big questions on the horizon, UAB has partnered with various outside marketing and communications agencies over the past few years to conduct extensive brand research. Our goal is to analyze the perception, meaning, and recognition of the UAB brand in its many forms, and to better understand how our brand connects with various constituents. This research is used to create benchmarks and inform decisions regarding future brand development, including a potential new visual identity system. A high-level view of the research is outlined below, and results and updates continue to be shared with campus stakeholders.

Please note: Brand research provides one of many data points for UAB to consider future branding decisions.

Phase I

On-campus Focus Groups

During January and February 2019, several small focus groups were conducted by Lipman Hearne to engage multiple entities across UAB, including

  • Focus Groups
    • Health System Executive Leadership
    • School of Medicine Leadership
    • Undergraduate Admissions Staff
    • Graduate Admissions Staff
    • Graduate and Professional Students
    • Undergraduate Students
    • Alumni
    • Staff
    • Deans
    • Campus Executive Leadership
    • Faculty
    • Communications Staff
    • Development and Alumni Staff
    • School of Medicine Faculty
    • Student Affairs
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    • Athletics
    • Community Partners

Online Focus Groups

During April and May 2019, online focus groups were conducted by Lipman Hearne to engage a sampling of alumni, prospective students, parents of prospective students, and high school counselors.

Online Surveys

Online surveys were deployed by Lipman Hearne to the following groups:

  • August 19-30, 2019 – UAB alumni
  • September 9-20, 2019 – UAB faculty, staff, and students

UAB Arts Focus Groups

In January 2020, UAB partnered with Birmingham-based New South Research to conduct a series of UAB Arts focus groups.

UAB Brand Research Town Hall

In early February 2020, Lipman Hearne presented research findings in a town hall-style event that was free and open to all UAB faculty, staff, and students.

The UAB Brand Research Committee

A large committee of cross-campus representatives was formed in August 2019 to review and discuss UAB brand research outcomes from Phase I, and collaborate on recommended post-research actions for Phase II. The committee met regularly through Spring 2021 before it retired. Committee members included:

  • Committee Members
    • Advancement - Katie McDowell, Director of Communications
    • Advancement - Rebecca Gordon, Associate VP Development
    • Alumni Affairs - Jennifer Breland, Assistant Vice President of Alumni Affairs
    • Alumni Representative - Nathaniel Wade
    • Alumni Representative - Sam Miller
    • Athletics - Brad Hardekopf, Senior Associate Athletic Director
    • Athletics - Erin Kraebber, Associate Athletic Director
    • Callahan Eye Hospital - Leah Glenn, Communications Marketing Manager
    • Collat School of Business - Molly Wasko, Prof/Assoc Dean
    • College of Arts and Sciences - Mallory Brasseale, Communications Specialist
    • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - Ashleigh Aldridge
    • Enrollment Operations - Chenise Ryan, Executive Director
    • Facilities - Natalie Merrill, Facilities Communications Manager
    • Faculty - Douglas (Doug) Barrett, Art and Art History Associate Professor
    • Faculty - Stephen O'Connor, marketing professor, Health Services Administration
    • Finance and Administration - Steve Murray, Executive Director Operations
    • New Student Programs - DeeDee Barnes Bruns, Executive Director of Community Recruitment
    • Office of the Provost - Karen Templeton, Director of Communications
    • O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB - Beena Thannickal, Communications Director
    • Organizational Learning & Development - Susan Coan, Executive Director
    • Procurement – Ron Collins, Executive Director
    • Research – Chelsea Crawford, Director of Research Development
    • School of Medicine - Paige Dorman, Executive Director of Communications
    • School of Optometry – Satina Richardson, Communications Director
    • Student Affairs – Patricia (Patty) Martinez, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs & Director
    • Student Government Association - Tyler Huang, Vice President
    • UAB Medicine - Adrienne Steading, Director of Marketing & Digital Strategy
    • UAB Visual and Performing Arts – Lili Anderson, Executive Director

    The following key staff from the Office of Marketing and Communications support the coordination and facilitation of the committee.

    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Rosie O’Beirne, Chief Digital Strategy & Marketing Officer
    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Barbara Perry, Brand & Licensing Director
    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Jim Bakken, Chief Communications Officer
    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Amy Bickell, Director of Creative Services
    • Office of Marketing and Communications - Annee Cook, Director of Marketing
    • Office of Marketing and Communications - Julie Keith, Assistant Vice President of Content Strategy
    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Evan Thrailkill, Director of Digital Strategy

Phase II

Creative Agency Selection

During October 2022, UAB submitted a request for information (RFI) to 18 different creative agencies across the U.S. to identify the best partner to refresh UAB’s visual identity system. Five agencies presented formal pitches to a small selection committee that included:

  • Committee Members
    • UAB Advancement - Katie McDowell, Sr. Communications Director
    • UAB Athletics - Brad Hardekopf, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs
    • UAB Collat School of Business - Julie Senter, Communications Director
    • UAB Department of Art and Art History - Douglas Barrett, Associate Professor
    • Faculty Senate - Joe March, Chair of Faculty Senate and Professor (College of Arts and Sciences)
    • UAB Heersink School of Medicine - Paige Dorman, Executive Director of Communications
    • UAB Medicine - Adrienne Steading, AVP of Marketing
    • UAB Medicine - David Randall, Chief Strategy Officer
    • UAB Performing and Visual Arts Consortium - Lili Anderson, Executive Director
    • Office of Marketing and Communications - Rosie O’Beirne, Chief Digital Strategy & Marketing Officer
    • Office of Marketing and Communications - Barbara S. Perry, Brand and Licensing Director
    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Annee Cook, AVP of Marketing
    • Office of Marketing and Communications – Amy Bickell, Director of Creative Services

Medicine Branding Survey

During April 2023, UAB launched an internal survey to select employee groups (below) to probe branding challenges affecting UAB Medicine and the UAB Heersink School of Medicine. This shaped subsequent focus groups, and dovetailed into work with our hired creative agency to refresh UAB’s overall visual identity system.

  • Heersink School of Medicine
  • Health System
  • UA Health Services Foundation
  • UAB Hospital
  • UAB Callahan Eye
  • Faculty in health-related schools and programs

Medicine Branding Focus Groups

During April/May 2023, UAB partnered with New South Research to conduct in-person and virtual focus groups that tested potential branding models for UAB’s future medicine branding. Participating audiences included

  • UAB Heersink School of Medicine leadership
  • UAB clinical staff
  • Community physicians
  • UAB Health System Leadership & clinical operations
  • UAB research faculty
  • UAB patients and potential UAB patients

Visual Identity Refresh

To help expand our reach and address brand challenges identified during previous research, UAB partnered with marketing and branding agency, Ologie, for a months-long project to refresh the UAB visual identity system. The scope of work began April 2023 and included a three-phased approach:

  • Discovery + Immersion (4-6 weeks)
    • Project kickoff
    • Review existing brand research and study of brand assets
    • Audit of current identity architecture system
    • Interviews and small group discussions with key internal stakeholders
  • Visual System Strategy (7-10 weeks)
    • Working session to clarify visual parameters that will establish the identity architecture system
    • Key stakeholders input and buy-in
    • Final approval on architecture strategy
  • Creative Exploration (14-18 weeks)
    • Iterative exploration of the visual identity system (logos, colors, typography) based on strategy developed in Phase II
    • Concept/market testing
    • Final artwork for all evolved and/or changed logos

While this work involves the participation and input of many key stakeholders across UAB, the project is managed by a small core team that connects weekly with Ologie:

  • Rosie O’Beirne, Chief Digital & Strategy Officer – Office of Marketing and Communications
  • Barbara Perry, Brand & Licensing Director – Office of Marketing and Communications
  • Annee Cook, AVP, Marketing – Office of Marketing and Communications
  • Adrienne Steading, AVP, Marketing – UAB Medicine
  • Paige Dorman, Executive Director, Communications – UAB Heersink School of Medicine

Market Testing

The creative exploration phase of the visual identity refresh included market testing to measure the strength and viability of three potential logo designs. UAB launched an online survey during late January 2024 that reached 130,000 people across:

  • Students
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • UAB Medicine employees
  • Alumni and donors
  • General public

The survey received 10,000 responses and revealed two preferred logo designs, “Modern” and “Classic.” After internal discussion and weighing costs associated with updates to logos in UAB’s built environment, the decision was made to proceed with the “Classic” logo, while elements of the “Modern” logo appear in the new UAB Athletics logo.

Logo Testing breakdown showing reactions to the three logo choices. Alt text in link.Accessible text for market testing

Information Session

UAB Brand Refresh Information Session 1.19.24

UAB’s Chief Digital Strategy & Marketing Officer, Rosie O’Beirne, delivered a live update on the status of UAB’s brand refresh. Watch the recording to learn about the years-long process, get a sneak peek of potential new UAB logos from the creative agency, Ologie, and hear next steps for UAB.

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