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GhostBronco.com statement regarding WWMT coverage of WMU rebranding

GhostBronco.com statement regarding WWMT coverage of WMU rebranding

For Immediate Release

June 30, 2021

Kalamazoo, MI - We at GhostBronco.com are encouraged to see more media outlets covering the rebranding controversy at Western Michigan University. 

The lead story during WWMT's 11pm broadcast on 6/29/2021 focused on on the negative blowback seen regarding the rebranding at WMU.  Below are responses to key items in WWMT's story.  You can find the writeup and video coverage here: New Western Michigan University logo ruffles the hair of some Broncos | WWMT

 

Color Palette

In WWMT's story, they cite that the various past color schemes used by WMU and the desire to reduce to fewer colors.  The logo summary used by WWMT is misleading.

While WMU has said they are reducing colors, they are not only focusing and Brown and Yellow as depicted by the graphic above.  Below is the new color scheme from the Collegiate Licensing Company who manages licensing relationships for NCAA institutions. Vendors who have licensing agreements with WMU must adhere to the approved colors and marks in this document. You will see that not only Brown and Yellow are represented but also White, Gray and Dark Gray. Bringing the total approved color count to 5. The full list of approved colors and marks can be found via this Ghost Bronco tweet.  This is what the administration is really doing with the colors.

 

GhostBronco.com Color Palette Proposal:

In an effort to consolidate both academic and athletic brands, we recommend adopting the color scheme used by athletics.  This color scheme allows us to stick to our traditional colors of Brown and Gold while allowing for modern designs in apparel and merchandise.  This color scheme below has been taken from the July 2020 WMU Athletics Style guide and has been in place since 1998.  It includes the same amount of colors as the new branding (5).  Along with the Ghost Bronco logo, this is something that was already in existence with no need for modification or change.

 

Lies about inclusive process

Generalized statements saying that WMU had spoken to alumni, students and student athletes are terribly misleading.  Based on the feedback from our petition at GhostBronco.com, any engagement with the WMU community was done in a very limited fashion and late in the process with no intent to listen to any feedback.  We have received feedback from Alumni Association board members and student-athletes that they were unaware this rebranding was taking place and unaware that their respective communities were or were not consulted in the process.  This has been a check box ticking exercise allowing the administration to tell the media that they included these groups.  A clear manipulation of the truth.

 

Signage updates

As we have documented on a Ghost Bronco twitter post, The updated signage has turned into an eye sore around campus. Especially compared to what was already in place.  Is the administration willing to share proposed designs of new signage to be installed along Stadium Drive and US 131 or will they continue to design and deploy changes in a closed environment?

 

Patronizing Statements from WMU Administration

With the growing evidence of the lack of inclusion, cluelessness and the failed acknowledgement of valued WMU community opinions, its an embarrassment that the WMU administration is doubling down on patronizing language in the media.  Of course making changes to a University brand will not please everyone, however the overwhelmingly negative reaction to a branding change that most people never knew about before it was too late should not be ignored.

Using Dr. Wallace's analogy, while the train has left the station, the administration doesn't realize they sent it in the entirely wrong direction.  There is a precedent of other universities reversing rebranding. For example, Michigan State in 2010 when they reversed the updated Spartan logo and in 2012 when the University of California reversed their rebranding due to negative backlash. We can and should reverse this rebranding. The amount already spent is not an excuse to keep the new branding. The cost of damage caused by this will dwarf what the administration has spent on this rebranding.

Comments suggesting that more people will love the rebrand as WMU wins is an absurd attempt to give the new logo credibility based on performance from the student-athletes that have voiced their disapproval of it.  At the end of the day, replacing any form of the Bronco with a circle W is stealing the identity of all Broncos, especially ones who represent the University in athletics.  The negative reaction to these new colors and logos wont magically turn around because of a touchdown.

The most disappointing and patronizing statement came from Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard.  It's surprising that an official with her tenure and track record would simply follow the administration talking points.  We have defended AD Beauregard from the beginning since the athletic department transferred licensing management to the marketing department. This allowed the marketing department full power to implement these changes that were developed in a vacuum.  Feedback from our petition and posts on social media tell us that this is a top down approach and everyone must fall in line.  Statement from AD Beauregard like "Some feedback was incorporated and some was not, that’s not uncommon in a process like this." is not telling the whole story.  The lack of specifics of what feedback may have been incorporated into this rollout is concerning. It has become difficult to defend AD Beauregard's involvement in this rebranding process moving forward given her public statements.  The student-athletes and staff she represents have spoke up privately and it seems that there is an attempt to discount their public opinions with patronizing/disrespectful statements. Compliance seems to be demanded from both the marketing and athletic departments.  We hope more transparency, clarity and truth is eventually shown from the administration.  We worry that a culture of fear for anyone who may speak against this has become prevalent within WMU.

Yet another Bad Look for WMU during the Extended Interview

The answer given by Tony Proudfoot, VP of Marketing, to the question on how spending $670,000 on a logo would change anything was an awkward, patronizing attempt to justify the failed rollout of this new visual identity. 

All the love for the institution was not diffused.  It is and always has been rolled up into the sense of spirit associated with the Bronco.  Lets be clear, 'we' do not want to associate positive experiences with the circle W, only you do.  If proper due diligence was done, an outsider to WMU like Tony Proudfoot would have learned that the WMU community identifies as Broncos.  Being Broncos is what we positively associate with, not yellow letters in brown circles.  This could not be more true than now given the success across athletics, the news of the largest gift to a University in US history ($550 million) and continued success across multiple academic programs at WMU.  With every public statement made by Tony Proudfoot, it becomes more clear that he has no understanding to what Western Michigan University is all about.

 

One True Statement

WWMT was able to interview Zach Terrell, a proud WMU alum and one of the leaders of the 2016 football team that finished with an undefeated regular season and a birth in the Cotton Bowl Classic.  

We give Zach a lot of credit in showing leadership and representing current student-athletes and alumni.  His quote accurately depicts what we are experiencing with our petition and on social media, "I've never seen Western this unified since 2016 and it's against the rebranding."  

We plan on seeing more Bronco student-athletes past and present speak up against this rebranding.  The team at GhostBronco.com hopes to continue to build relationships across the WMU community, gather feedback and move this train in right direction.

In Summary

We are thankful to WWMT for covering this story as we work to rectify the theft of our identity as Western Michigan Broncos.  

The circle W is quickly becoming a symbol of a WMU administration that is moving backwards, tone deaf and promotional of bully tactics to push through changes made in a vacuum that are not welcomed by anyone.

Unless we get this train moving in the right direction, we fear that the legacy of this administration will be tainted and any good work put towards growing our University wont be remembered.  What will be remembered is how members of the WMU community felt when their identity was stolen from them. It's not too late to show leadership and do things the right way. Stop this rebranding now.

Please continue to 'fight on' against this rebrand.  Tell all your Bronco buddies to sign the petition and subscribe to our newsletter at GhostBronco.com

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