Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Field experience On a recent visit to Chicago, we joined a queue of shoppers waiting to pose for photos in front of the Marshall Field sign on State Street. Sadly, the store is no more. It was bought by Macy’s in 2005 and has been operating as a Macy’s store since September 2006. Field’s may be gone, but it is certainly not forgotten. A survey taken in September 2011 reported that 4 out of 5 Chicagoans still prefer Field’s to Macy’s. There have been protests every year in front of the store, and several customers have crashed shareholders meetings to confront Macy’s CEO. All of this is evidence of the enduring popularity of the Marshall Field brand. Brand loyalty is not reserved for retail businesses—ask any college or university PR director who has been through an institutional name change. The key to making a smooth transition is to move slowly and involve as many people as possible in the rebranding process. Students, alumni, faculty, and community leaders need to be heard. If you move forward without hearing from them, you may be facing some serious post-name-change damage control.

Contributed by Domenica