The Daily Gamecock

University of South Carolina revives 'USC' acronym, changes branding after 4 years

A university employee wears a t-shirt with the new USC spirit mark on March 29, 2023. The university announced the new logo on Oct. 26, 2022.
A university employee wears a t-shirt with the new USC spirit mark on March 29, 2023. The university announced the new logo on Oct. 26, 2022.

The university went through its second rebranding in four years, changing the "UofSC" logo mark back to its original "USC" branding in January.

The "UofSC" name was adopted in 2019 to differentiate the university on a national scale. In audiences outside of South Carolina and the Southeast, the University of Southern California is also referred to as "USC." University spokesperson Jeff Stensland said that for South Carolina, the "USC" name "embodies the university’s long-standing history."

The brand update includes an updated tree and gate logo in addition to what the university refers to as a USC “spirit mark." According to Stensland, the change has been well-received by students, faculty and alumni. 

Taia McGinnis, a marketing professor at the Darla Moore School of Business and a USC alumna, said by bringing back the acronym, USC has contributed to a newfound sense of pride and spirit throughout campus.

“I think everyone's always been attached to USC, and so the new logo’s such a reinvention of our old collegiate heritage," McGinnis said. "It's just really a callback to what we all feel as alumni, as we all feel about the university.”

According to Stensland, university President Michael Amiridis created a plan to transition back to "USC" when he took over as president.

“It was something that (Amiridis) certainly wanted to accomplish, and he shared that with us before he even officially started here,” Stensland said. “With the launch of a new brand update, the timing worked really well.” 

Stensland said the university changed the name and logo to "UofSC" in 2019 as a way to stand out from other university abbreviations and be easy to search. 

Jason Porter, a visual communications professor at the College of Information and Communications, said that when searching "USC" and "Carolina" on the web, the University of South Carolina never came up, but this changed with "UofSC."

“It separated us from a search engine (perspective)," Porter said. "Just being able to Google 'UofSC,' we're the only thing that pops up. We own that.”

Despite this, Stensland said many alumni did not adjust well to the change, believing that UofSC was not representative of their community. 

McGinnis said there is a lot of time and energy that goes on behind the scenes in a change like this and that decisions like these are not taken lightly. She believes the changes will make everyone happier. 

“Creating a new logo is the most creative part of it, but then the execution of going through campus and updating all the logos, all the print materials," McGinnis said. "It's a huge process.” 

The university has begun rebranding by creating t-shirts, adding sidewalk adhesives, promoting merchandise giveaways and making digital advances, but social accounts will not change since the University of Southern California has already claimed "USC" in its usernames. 

Stensland said the university has used the term “UofSC" on social media accounts long before the university changed its logo to "UofSC" in 2019. 

“We don’t see (usernames) as a significant issue," Stensland said. "We know that the folks who have followed us on social media for a long time, they’re used to 'UofSC.'"

From a design perspective, Porter said there are shortcomings of the new logo. According to him, some elements don’t scale down very well, such as the 1801 banner displayed at the bottom. 

In his classes, Porter said some of his visual communication students have referred to the design as "generic." He believes designing a logo could have been a beneficial opportunity for students. 

“There are a lot of design students here on campus," Porter said. "It would have been cool to throw the entire thing at the students and be like, 'How would you design it?' They don’t have to use any of them, but it’d be nice to get student input.”

With the logo being changed twice in recent years, Porter said it is possible that the logo could change again.

“It doesn't feel timeless at all, and there will become a point that something that does not feel timeless is old and dated,” Porter said.

Although time may age the new logo, McGinnis said the USC slogan has created a long-lasting effect on the university, and she hopes the new USC logo will continue to do so for future generations.

Stensland said the university had a challenging past few years with changes in leadership and the COVID-19 pandemic, but he feels the university is in a very good place now. Moving forward, he hopes alums are satisfied with these changes.

"We hope that it brings a renewed sense of energy, and particularly with alums, and a reason to become reacquainted with the university,” Stensland said.