Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Logo/Brand Recognition

Logo/brand recognition are two things that I have learned that one should never underestimate. I encountered this personally upon moving to Thailand 11 years ago. I was in my office speaking with a parent and he happened to look up at my University of Virginia (UVA) diploma and some UVA paraphernalia and remarked, "UVA! That's a good school!" Being new to international education, this parent's response surprised me because he was a parent who did not attend university outside of Thailand, but was familiar with UVA and its caliber of education.

Speaking of UVA, when I travel by plane, I always wear a hat. Simply because I have no hair and I tend to get cold on airplanes, especially the top of my head. Over the years, I've worn different hats usually related to hockey teams for which I was playing (The Bangkok Flying Farangs, Oman Wadi Dogs). But, a few years ago, I purchased a UVA hat for $5 at an outlet mall in North Carolina. The price and design of the hat appealed to me and it has become my new travel hat.
My current travel cap depicting the UVA Cavaliers logo

As I have worn this hat while traveling, it's been interesting to me at the places where the UVA logo has been recognized. It's been like a little experiment. It first happened three years ago on a flight in France. I was in my seat toward the back of the plane getting settled as a woman was walking down the aisle to her seat she saw my hat and in a cute French accent said to me, "UVA, Wahoowa." Although UVA's official mascot is the Cavalier we are also known as the Wahoos. I looked at her, smiled, and Wahoowaed her right back! During the flight, she came over to me and said she attended UVA for undergrad and grad school and loved her experience there. She also remarked how surprised she was to the see the UVA logo in France.

Later that year, while UVA was in the College World Series, I had just ascended from the bowels of the New York City subway system with my sister, Reneta and as were walking down the street in mid-town Manhattan on W. 58th St. a guy in his mid-20's saw me and shouted, "Wahoowa!" Go UVA! Man, you think they are going to win the World Series?!" Reneta and I just looked at each other, laughed, and said, "Wahoowa!"

Then, about a month ago, I was in Narita Airport in Tokyo going through a security check for my flight to DC when an older gentleman saw my hat and exclaimed, "UVA, did you go there?" I replied that I did and he said, "I live in Orange, Va (Not far) from UVA and I teach there. Please join me and my family during your layover."

Then, later that same day, after my flight from Tokyo, I was at a small club in Vienna, Va. watching one of my favorite musicians, jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter perform. After the show, as Charlie was packing up his gear, I approached him to tell him how much I enjoyed his show and mentioned the different times that I had seen him perform in the DC area. This then began a discussion about music and different artists that he has performed with over the years. As we were talking, he looked at my hat and said, "UVA Cavaliers, right?" I said, "Right." He responded, "My son wants to go there. He is 13 years old, is a very good baseball player, and UVA has a strong baseball program." I told Charlie that I'm a high school counselor and that I attended UVA. At this, Charlie's face lit up and he then asked, "What advice can you give me regarding admissions to UVA?" I just started laughing. I said, "Tell your son to take challenging courses, make good grades, do well on his standardized tests, and keep up the extracurricular activities. Charlie was very appreciative and said, "Thanks, Ryan. I'll tell him." The UVA logo, who knew? Logo/brand recognition is a powerful thing!

Me with Charlie Hunter. I was feeling the effects of jet lag this evening, very sleepy.


Dick said...

As always Ryan, I thoroughly enjoy your blog posts. Keep them coming. Dick

Caroline said...

Maybe I should start wearing a Habs cap. No, wait, too potentially dangerous.