Back to ‘USC’: My Alma Mater Announces New Branding


The University of South Carolina announced it adopt new branding…again. This time, it’s returning to good old USC. Let’s hope it sticks.

Forget that “UofSC” stuff. The University of South Carolina is returning to its preferred identity: USC. The university introduced “UofSC” branding plans to what was, at best, lukewarm reaction back in January of 2019.

At the time, the story went that there was a lawsuit involving the University of Southern California, which also uses “USC” as its identity. As a result of the lawsuit, South Carolina’s USC decided to become UofSC.

It turns out that this wasn’t exactly accurate, according to a USC spokesman. (I mean, according to a spokesman for the South Carolina school.)

He told me that while there was in fact a lawsuit, at issue was an interlocking SC logo that one of the sports teams at the South Carolina school was using. The suit did not, he said, focus on the USC moniker.

So, University of South Carolina officials announced a return to the classic “USC” name this week.

“The actions announced today reflect our commitment to enhancing our iconic brand,” President Michael Amiridis said. “In my short time back at the university, alumni and other stakeholders have told me how important it is to return the USC name back to the institution. We are initiating that change today.”

Plans call for the official academic logo to keep the tree-and-gates icon as well:

©University of South Carolina

Before I attended the school, it launched a new identity as The USC. That little the didn’t fool anyone.

Some argued that there could only be one school using those initials. Some also argued — and still attempt to argue now — that the first school people think of when they see those initials happens to be that school in Southern California.

Hey, I have nothing against that school or its Trojans football team.

My school should have applied for trademark status for the initials sooner. After all, when the South Carolina school was founded, way back in 1801, California wasn’t even a state, yet. By the time the University of Southern California came along, South Carolina’s university had been operating for eight decades.

A CBS Sports Radio analyst claims that when people in 49 states hear, “USC,” they immediately think of the Trojans in Southern California, not the Gamecocks in South Carolina. He has zero evidence of that opinion, apparently.

But when I tell people I went to USC, there have only been a handful in 30 years who assume I mean Southern California. One of the ones who did assume I meant the Trojans went there himself.

New name, new spirit mark introduced

The best part of this experiment in branding is that the familiar Gamecock athletic logos aren’t affected by the return to the three initials.

For a state that still prides itself on being the first to secede from the Union before the Civil War, people in South Carolina do not like change. If they messed with the Gamecock logos, you’d probably hear cannon fire.

But the school did introduce a new spirit mark:

©University of South Carolina

Does that say South Carolina or Southern California to you?

The way to solve the confusion either way would be to have made one simple modification to the spirit mark. Just add a little silhouette of the state of South Carolina like this:

Wouldn’t that solve any confusion?

On the other hand, it’s probably not worth the extra effort. Honestly, if you can’t figure out which school people are talking about within the context of the conversation, you probably don’t care one way or the other.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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