In its new logo unveiled Thursday, the United Negro College Fund has dropped its full name, opting to go as UNCF as part of a branding strategy that conveys the organization as a contemporary and progressive advocate of Blacks in higher education while also maintaining its heritage.
During the four-year effort to update its logo, UNCF officials heard suggestions that it change its name, Dr. Michael Lomax, UNCF president and CEO, said during a press conference at Spelman College to announce the new brand identity.
“One of the issues in the full name, African-Americans don’t view themselves as Negros,” Lomax said, recounting a conversation in which editors and writers at VIBE magazine told him the name is not “speaking to the hip-hop generation.”
“For most young people, it is a barrier,” Lomax said. “We’ve found the happy medium.”
The organization, which awards scholarships and financial support to 39 private HBCUs, is keeping its legal name even though it’s branding itself as UNCF.
In addition to the acronym UNCF, the new logo retains UNCF’s famous tagline: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. The new blue, orange and yellow colors are intended to reflect energy, and the flame on the torch is bent, to indicate the torch is moving.
“The flame is bending because the torch is moving forward, because UNCF is moving forward,” Lomax said. “A community of colleges moving forward, operating on all cylinders and picking up speed, sometimes encountering resistance.”
The new branding is targeted toward the 300,000 people who donated to UNCF as well as potential donors. Lomax said UNCF will award this year $80 million in scholarships and provide $40 million in support to member institutions, but he’s hoping the new strategy will bring in more to help more.
Moving forward, Lomax said UNCF will continue to “tell our story,” support member institutions and students through scholarships and be an advocate for HBCUs in Washington, in the private philanthropic sector and the public in general.
“This is a proud and crucial moment for UNCF,” Lomax said. “UNCF is taking a bold step forward to attract new donors, reinforce our relevance and appeal to a broader base of public support. This new identity is a proud banner for our critical mission.”
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