Thomas Gravatt submitted on
Monday 16th May 2016
The rebrand needed to happen, SUSU buildings etc. looked out of date and the logo was clearly getting old. However, a name change was not necessary, this is what has upset people.
Us. is a more confusing name than SUSU, it does not work in conversation and feels very cliché, not to mention the lower case s and stylistic problems with the logo. Union Southampton as a new name is equally ill thought out. Firstly, it does not make grammatical sense and does not actually describe what the Union is for, it could be a Union for Southampton dock workers, teachers, students, councillors or lawyers, it is ill defined. Secondly it removes the word student's, now I would think that a Student's Union might like to advertise the fact that it is for students. SUSU certainly advertises itself as student focused enough, so why remove it? Finally, the name change removes the word University, if there was only one University in Southampton this would be less problematic, but Solent does exist. Having a name like Union Southampton does not directly show which university it is attached to. If the name was changed to USSU, although unnecessary, it would actually define what the Union is, the University of Southampton Student's Union. It seems that the name change's only purpose was to fit the acronym Us.
I am aware that the rebrand is not completed, however it is not the changing signs that people are angry about. It is the changing name that is more unclear in meaning than SUSU ever was. It seems that despite the Unions efforts to get students involved, the only time they are is when the Union makes mistakes. It would be good if you recognise these mistakes. Lots of the brand review work was good and necessary, but not the name change. If there was to be a referendum on anything, it would be this, much like New Zealand’s referendum on changing their flag, it is a matter of identity. Stepping back on the name change will show that SUSU is trying to be in touch with the students. If not, then an open referendum with multiple different designs and options for all students to vote on would be very welcome. Although there were indeed consultations and surveys, these were not sufficient and turnout was not high enough to justify such a drastic rebrand.
My proposition is that the majority of the good work from the rebrand is kept, 'the mark', the consistent signage, designs, and fonts. However, the name SUSU should also be kept and the pink and purple that characterise the union should be retained. The logo can be the current SUSU logo with the speech bubbles removed and the mark added. The familiar colouring will reduce the criticism faced for the black and white branding of the buildings. This would create a more modern, minimalist brand without removing all the colour and familiarity of SUSU. Obviously changing elements of the rebrand will cost additional money, as will a referendum, but it is important that we get it right now rather than have to rebrand again a few years down the line. Offering students a choice about how their Union should look is important, Union Council and focus groups cannot be relied on to represent student opinion with such low turnout. The one argument against the name SUSU is that it means milk in Malaysian and that this makes Malaysian students laugh. I do not see the problem with laughter.
Here, you can view the complete set of official responses from the sabbatical officers regarding this submission.
Students' Union replied on
Wednesday 18th May 2016 2:09pm
Thanks for a comprehensive and fair reply to the rebranding process, Tom. I agree, a lot of students feel aggrieved at the name change above and beyond much else. However, the name, before it was changed, was met with apathy and disdain, it was used to scapegoat any issue that students face (‘SUSU have messed up again’ about things far beyond our control), it means breastmilk in Malay, and it means piss in hindi. Laughter is a good thing, associating a serious representative body with a joke title is less so. I feel that with regards to the name change, it’s a case of ‘you don’t’ know what you’ve got til it’s gone’ – students never felt strongly connected to SUSU until we were no longer called SUSU, at least not the ones that took part in the rebranding consultation.
This has also been way more than a name change. With the rebrand, we’re waving goodbye to what SUSU has become synonymous with in the student body. We’ve overhauled our democratic processes, we’ve created committees specifically for Post-Graduates and Winchester students, we’ve improved our offering around exam times with record attendance at ‘You Are More Than…’ events – we have changed. Though not everybody knows or cares about these changes, they’ve been about taking large steps to changing the Union into something that actually does serve its student body. The name change is one of many changes that moves away from ‘SUSU’, considered by many to be a toxic brand, and into a new Union that is doing things differently.
Forwarded to Union President
Monday 16th May 2016 2:56pm
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