South Carolina Changes Its "Official" Color

Who is South Carolina? USC? Who are the Gamecocks? In an effort to bring uniformity to their marketing and better name recognition, the university has made a decision to change something that has a major identifying factor for the school - its primary color. Read inside for all the details.

South Carolina has notified their official licensees that "the University of South Carolina has officially changed its primary garnet color" from the current "PMS 201" to "PMS 202" in an "effort to gain more consistency with our garnet color." The change means that the Gamecocks will go from using the same PMS color as Alabama, Oklahoma, and Southern Cal, to the same PMS color as Mississippi State.

Jeff Crane – the Sports Marketing Director for South Carolina athletics, said in an exclusive interview with GamecockAnthem that, "The color will be officially changing. Essentially it's university wide. It's a university decision."

Crane said the notice to licensees "went out a couple weeks ago." No official notice has yet been sent out publicly by the university giving notice of the change. A planned press conference announcing the change was cancelled when notice was sent out to USC staff and coaches that the decision had officially been made, and there were objections raised. A meeting has now been scheduled for this Wednesday to discuss the matter.

"The average fan would never see the difference in 201 and 202," according to Crane. "The reason we've made the decision - I wasn't the one that made the decision, I was a part of the group that was involved with that from the university - was that from a consistency standpoint, 202 will yield more of a true garnet color when placed on apparel and different types of materials - paper, etc. - than the 201 will."

In an internal note to USC staff, Crane stated that research the University has conducted in conjunction with the Collegiate Licensing Company found that "PMS 202 will better reflect and more consistently produce the true garnet color. We understand that in some cases PMS 201 may be better." USC officials were instructed if they had a need to use PMS 201, to contact the appropriate USC officials. However, in the memo that was sent out to licensees, Ken Corbett, Director of Licensing for the University, instructs the official licensees that "Additional merchandise containing old colors should no longer be produced and will not be approved by the University." Licensees were given a nine month window to dispose of already existing merchandise, and the university is asking that all PMS 201 items be removed by December 31, 2008.

"Many fans say our color comes out too red sometimes," Crane said. "That's what happens with that 201 color. It really shows up a little more red, and I don't think we're going to completely eliminate that, but having the 202 will help in that effort. We're still going to use 201 on certain materials, like for example, we found that on uncoated paper, which is basically a typical copy paper, letterhead, etc., 201 presents itself more garnet. On letterhead, we'll use 201 still."

Crane said that the decision to change the color has already been made, and not something that is just being considered. When told that the new color is the same one used by Mississippi State, Crane replied, "Yes, that is exactly right. As you look at these things, there's only so many colors. You look at 201 versus 202, there are tons of schools that actually use 201 same as we did, and we'll continue to use it on some things. A gentleman in our publications office actually did quite a bit of research into that and looked at different schools and which colors they were using, and at the end of the day, there really is no way to get our own color, so-to-speak."

When asked about objections within the USC community privy to the decision, Crane said, "We had some folks ask us to take a look at certain things and make sure that we aren't too close to some of our rivals to make sure their coloring is not directly what ours is, and so we're certainly looking at that. There's another SEC school (Alabama) that uses the exact same 201 that we do, so it's going to be difficult to get 100 percent our own color, but we'll make every attempt to do that as best we can."

There is already one school in the state of South Carolina using PMS 202 – the College of Charleston.

Crane said the athletic department is working closely with the companies that manufacture their teams' uniforms on the issue of accurate color. "Under Armour does football and we work directly with them to try to match the truest color that we could."

When asked if the new Under Armour uniforms that the football team began wearing last fall are closer to 202 than they are to 201, Crane replied, "If you look, its pretty close. It's closer to 202 than it is to 201 if you were to put them right up against each other. But again, it is so close, it's difficult to tell."

Crane said the different sports having different uniform manufacturers is challenging when it comes to matching colors. "One of the things we have heard from our fans and our coaches is that they would really like more of a consistent look across the uniforms and our teams, and so our plan is as coaches order new uniforms, to actually try to match them across the board as best we can. It's difficult because it's different materials and things like that. It'd be difficult to get 100 percent match because different manufacturers use different materials, but that would be the goal."

The decision is part of the marketing strategy by USC to more strongly brand the South Carolina Gamecocks as a distinct entity in the sports marketplace. Research by South Carolina found that on the heels of North Carolina's basketball success of the last half century, surveys have found most sports fans nationally identify "Carolina" as North Carolina." It also found that Southern Cal, one of the nation's preeminent sports programs, is both nationally and even regionally here in the South more closely identified with USC than South Carolina is.

After finding out those results from their research, Crane and his marketing team gathered feedback from students, alumni, coaches and others about how South Carolina identifies itself.

USC Athletic Director Eric Hyman made a presentation last August to a coaches focus group and asked for their opinions. He told the Charleston Post and Courier that, "We wanted to include as many people as we could in this....We all want to be in concert, in harmony."

What is unique to South Carolina is their mascot, "Gamecocks," and so a decision was made to emphasize "Gamecocks" in all university and athletic department branding. Changes already made include changing the name of the athletic department's official website from "uscsports.com" to "gamecocksonline.com." The familiar Block C logo now must include the words "South Carolina" and "Gamecocks" below it. Another change is that every time the university is referred to as "South Carolina," "Carolina" or "USC," licensees must also include "Gamecocks" on that product.

"It's not like we're doing away with USC or Carolina," Jeff Crane told the Post and Courier. "They'll still be a part of what we say and the cheers at the games and those things. But we're looking at it in terms of the message we're conveying."

The athletic department's goal is to eliminate confusion in the marketplace about the brands, and set the Gamecock programs up as easily and uniquely identifiable as possible.

Here is the official memo sent out to all licensees:

Attention University of South Carolina Licensee:

University of South Carolina Announces Change in Primary Color & Logo Sheet

Effective immediately, please be advised that the University of South Carolina has officially changed its primary garnet color. After many internal discussions on campus and with CLC, the garnet PMS 201 has been changed to garnet PMS 202. Any new designs submitted or new product produced should be done so using the new primary PMS color.

We understand that color changes can be troublesome to licensees in the short-term and will work with you and South Carolina retailers to aid in the transition. The University is granting a nine-month window to deplete all existing inventory that utilizes the old color. All past approvals and production of merchandise that included the old color must be sold into the marketplace by December 31, 2008.

Additional merchandise containing old colors should no longer be produced and will not be approved by the University. We join the University of South Carolina in hoping this updated color will enhance the University of South Carolina's brand, create a more consistent color in the marketplace, and foster demand.



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