What’s in a name? The Dyson School (of Applied Economics and Management)

The big event this past week for my department was the announcement that the Dyson family endowed our program for 25M.  We will now be known as the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.  The Dyson School, for short.   And it turns out that having a short version does matter.

Why does it matter? We already have an outstanding undergraduate business program.  But no recognizable brand. We have and award-winning research and extension programs in Management, Environmental  and Resource Economics, International Trade and Development and Agricultural Management and Finance.   But no recognizable brand.  Our students get great placements, win awards and are amazing performers in all walks of life.  But they have no recognizable brand to label their business cards and resumes.

What we have been missing is a concise, meaningful brand statement.

Believe me, the department has been through dozens of visioning and branding exercises.  But the problem has always been that when talking to the press, prospective students, potential partners, the stumbling block is when you have to say:    “Well, I’m in the  Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

These 14 words will now be replaced by two:  “I’m in the Dyson School.”

Don’t get me wrong.  The money matters too!  We are all are very excited about using the funding to grow our programs, improve our teaching resources, underwrite our research and expand our outreach.  But those effects will be felt in the long run.   Right now, we can start to re-brand ourselves with the prestigious two words that quickly convey who we are.

The broader lesson:   every entity that craves attention needs a short, concise statement that immediately conjures up their program, school, business, or non-profit.  This is highlighted in the following three clips of John Dyson (Charles’ son) , talking about the crafting of the phrase “I love New York”  during his tenure as Ag Commissioner for the state.   Couldn’t be more appropriate to our situation:

One thought on “What’s in a name? The Dyson School (of Applied Economics and Management)

  1. Fantastic news! It’s so hard when politics intervenes in the naming of a program or product. We are stuck with “Access Community Health Centers” (no abbreviations allowed) as our principal name, and one of our locations is referred to as the “Access Community Health Centers William T. Evjue Clinic.” We’re lucky we don’t have to spell out the “T.”

    What happens, of course, is that the public refuses such monikers. So in our case, the above location is known coloquially as the “East Clinic” (because it’s on EAST Washington Ave on the EAST side of Madison). That upsets management but shouldn’t.

    Good branding should resonate with consumers automatically. The “Dyson School” trips off the tongue and is easy to remember.


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