Thursday, January 17, 2008

Essay 4996

From The New York Times…


Revising a Name, but Not a Familiar Slogan


MORE than 35 years after its debut, the slogan for the United Negro College Fund, “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste,” remains one of the most recognized in American advertising history.

The years, however, have not been as kind to the organization’s name, which has gradually become a source of alienation to the very people the group aims to serve. And while the fund is not prepared to drop the word “Negro” from its name, it plans to try to shift attention away from it.

A branding effort being introduced Thursday will seek to play down the full name and instead highlight the nonprofit’s initials, U.N.C.F. An updated logo will seek to communicate the changing direction of the group while putting renewed emphasis on the well-known slogan.

“Forty-plus years ago, when I started at Morehouse, I thought of myself as a Negro,” said Michael L. Lomax, U.N.C.F.’s president and chief executive, referring to the historically black college. “By the time I graduated in 1968, I was black. And then in the last 15 to 20 years I’ve become an African-American.”

The nomenclature issue is a decades-old predicament for U.N.C.F., which has long struggled to keep up with younger generations of African-Americans without abandoning nearly 70 years of hard-won brand equity.

“We want to hold on to our heritage, but we also want to find a way to say who we are that speaks directly and positively to a younger generation,” Mr. Lomax said. “I think we’ve found a happy medium.”

[Read the full story here.]

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