Many of you know that I am a Butler University graduate. I was there in the late 80s. We were pretty bad. Ok, really bad. The basketball team that is. In 1989, Butler hired a new head coach Barry Collier (currently athletic director) and one of the first things he and the school did was to slightly change the logo and colors. The Butler blue was more a standard blue instead of navy. And the bulldog image literally became a littler meaner looking.
Exactly a decade later, Butler added a real live bulldog named Blue. When I was there we did not have a real dog at all. Blue appeared at games from 2000-2009. Blue’s nephew Blue II came on the scene in 2004 and is retiring very soon. That’s only a more recent phenomenon despite the huge celebrity now.
Butler has done an amazing job taking leveraging the explosion of publicity that has taken place. They are riding the wave! And this was building some before Butler’s basketball team famously made it to the NCAA championship in 2010.
Blue II now has his own truck. Blue on wheels. You can buy a Blue II Fathead for your home.
A couple years ago, Kitty and I were at a Butler donor reception at the JW Marriott locally and Blue was one of the main draws and was getting a lot of attention.
Blue tweets — a lot! I followed Blue II for a few weeks and had to turn him off. He tweets more than anyone I follow. @ButlerBlueII — Blue II has more than 11,000 followers and the scarier part is he’s tweeted more than 27,000 times. Click on the link if you want to follow or see what he tweets about.
Blue II Controversy
Live animals are not allow at the Final 4 events and Blue II was not allowed to participate at the 2010 Final 4 in Indianapolis. But after making another surprise run to the 2011 Final 4, a special exemption was made and Blue II was allowed to be at the finals in Houston. Blue II was getting amazing exposure nevertheless.
This season Blue II has been traveling to most games with the heir apparent Trip (Blue III) (<–puppy photos, p.s. Trip is now already heavier than Blue II). In Nashville, Blue II and Trip were not allowed in at Vanderbilt University’s gym. That and Lucas Oil Stadium (for the Indy Final 4) have been the only places he’s been banned from. So even some controversy can be good publicity as we know.
It’s not likely going to be easy for your organization to build a brand that’s this recognizable, but in less than 20 years due to a lot of reasons Butler has an image that really sets itself apart. High academic standards, graduating students and athletes, awesome stories about humble ball players who went to church the day before and class the day of the national championship!
Establish the standards, image, and values you want to represent and continuously work to attain, sustain, and improve upon those.