Billboard Rewind – Still clever, or more effective?

Back in April, I posted the picture below of a Tarleton State University billboard on I-35 in Waco, Texas. My opinion was that while the billboard was clever, it was probably not effective (See: Clever? Yes. Effective? Probably Not). My main beef with the board was that it told me nothing about the Tarleton State brand. What is Tarleton State University, other than another state university that teaches kids? A good discussion followed in the comment section.

Last month, new artwork replaced the old, clever billboard. Compare the two pictures below. How did Tarleton State do with their new message? Do you get an understanding of the Tarleton State brand?

Tarleton State University Billboard – April, 2009
Tarleton State University Billboard – October 2009

Looking at the new billboard, I would guess that the Tarleton brand is preparedness. But did you notice the website address change? The Tarleton – Waco campus is an extension campus at the local community college. I wonder if the targeted website will confirm my brand guess. A trip to the special Waco website features this video:

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Unfortunately, the video is standard education institution fare and does not advance the brand. It’s simply a list of products available, with no insight into what’s special about Tarleton State University. It just says “here we are, here’s what we sell.”

A quick look at the website doesn’t reveal much more:


Notice the emphasis on the “I am” in the two student videos in the lower right corner? That “I am” theme is occasionally sprinkled throughout the Tarleton State University parent website as well. Is that the Tarleton State brand? If so, does it carry any weight and do what a brand is supposed to do?

My maxim is that no advertising or promotion should be done that doesn’t advance your brand. Now that you’ve had a chance to compare the billboards, watch the video, and visit the website, what do you think? Is the new Tarleton State billboard more effective? Do you have a clear understanding of the Tarleton State University brand?

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