Monday, November 1, 2010

Changes that Cost

I heard Ed Nichols at City Club talking about the new building on Broadway which will house the new History Colorado, formerly the Colorado Historical Society. I am experiencing cognitive dissonance on this new name change. Stand in line, the Colorado Historical Society is not the only Colorado organization to hire a "branding" expert who does focus groups to try to figure out how an organization can change its image in the community. When I hear the word "branding" I think of hot irons in a fire at our stock show ready to burn rancher's letters onto the quivering backside of some little doggie tied up with rope. Have you checked out the cost of focus groups lately. Just ask Floyd Cirulli how much those doggies cost.

Even Denver went through a branding change here at the city. I think we had focus groups and experts from back east to help us figure out what we need to show about ourselves to make folks want to come to Denver. We now have a new logo on city stationary which has a big bank building as our central symbol.

Some years back, the University of Colorado hired a branding agent and changed its motto from Classical Greek into English, "Let your light shine." That phrase actually springs from scripture. Emblazoned in Classical Greek letters the motto was not noticed. Now that CU's official motto on their escutcheon prints out in English, I am surprised the ACLU has not taken the University to court on the separation of church and state issue. Again, I wish it could have been printed in both languages Greek and English.

Can you imagine the costs accompanying this change. I'll bet now one at CU will admit the thousands of dollars it cost in new stationary with the new English motto.

I told Betsy Hoffman the president of our mother ship university at the time, that no good would come of the shift from classical Greek to modern English. And just look what happened. The gods were not happy with this change. The football team went to hell in a hand basket and then the whole fiasco with Professor Ward Churchill dominated the headlines and talk radio for years.

Regis University, who did it all without a football team, is not without sin in this area of unnecessary change. Some years ago Regis went from a Latin diploma to an English diploma. I believe I was the only faculty member to vote no on this change. I thought to be fair to our classical roots, at least give the students a choice, Latin or English. But no, like a rule change from Rome, the diplomas were in English only. I suggested an English copy on the back of the old Latin diploma for the thousands of students who actually got through Regis without the inestimably valuable Latin education. I guess these linguistic changes fit in since Colorado by constitution is an English only state. But it was very expensive to have all the new diplomas printed up in specially engraved copperplate letters. I thought I saw a tear on the cheek of the statue of Ignatius Loyola on the Regis campus near Carroll Hall when this change was thrust on the students and faculty. "quo usque tandem abutere patientia nostra. How long, oh, how long, are they going to abuse our patience."

We don't need to waste money on logo changes and branding experiments. In Denver, if we are delivering services to the taxpayers which are fiscally accountable and not wasteful, we don't need brand new names and new branding. We only need a watchful auditor willing to tell truth to power. And if universities deliver to their students an outstanding educational experience, we don't need to waste moneys on new fancy stationary and diplomas.

And the brand new "History Colorado"will continue to save our states history and make it available to the taxpayers as it did named the Colorado Historical Society.

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