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Wednesday, January 18, 2021

Tampa Bay is not part of what is commonly designated as “South Florida”. So it’s kind of weird that the local public mega-university was given the geographically-challenged name “University of South Florida”.

Still, with a new economic impact study pegging USF’s contribution to the Bay area’s economy at $3.2 billion, I don’t think anyone will be asking the home of the Bulls to move to Miami.

Not a bad money stream from a bunch of eggheads. Being the fourth-largest employer in Tampa Bay and one of the nation’s fastest-growing research institutions counts for something.

Still, the school name’s gotta be a bitch for USF’s branding purposes, and probably for Tampa/St. Pete’s as well. They talked a couple of years ago about addressing this, especially in emphasizing the “USF” brand over “South Florida”, but I don’t think that’s gone anywhere.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/18/2006 06:03:07 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Business | Permalink |

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  1. More often than not when I call someone out of state and say I’m calling from USF, they reply, “University of San Francisco?”

    Several times during USF football games I’ve heard announcers say “UFS.”

    And a few times when I’ve mentioned USF to people they’ll ask if I mean FSU.

    Sad to say, but unless you’re a major center of learning like MIT, the only way you’ll achieve national notoriety is with a football team. Maybe if the team delivers on the potential they showed early this season people will get used to the name. Even then announcers will probably mention the whole geographic anomaly as often as announcers mention the Bucs’ futility on kickoff returns.

    Comment by Joel — 01/18/2006 @ 06:59:51 PM

  2. Yeah, the athletic programs are usually schools’ greatest branding tool, and here, that means football. That’s why this year’s bowl game was so important. (On a muchmuch smaller scale, my alma mater has been trying to pump up the athletics department for the same purposes.)

    I notice you didn’t mention any confusion over the “south Florida” designation. I’m guessing that doesn’t even enter the minds of most people out-of-state (and maybe not even many in-state). Still bugs me, though.

    Comment by CT — 01/18/2006 @ 08:26:47 PM

  3. The south thing has come up, but nowhere near as often as it does for those in Florida. I have a feeling most outside the state don’t know much about Florida geograpy outside of where Disney World is.

    I was actually helping out in Eckerd around the time they unveiled the new teal colors and school logo (also around the time Eckerd pharmacies completed the transition to CVS, speaking of name confusion - how often do you get those jokes?). I am quite happy to see that they came upon a different logo for their athletics teams. Though it’s pretty abstract, it’s still more menacing than a shell. The color change was a good idea too considering the similarities of the old red and black colors to another area private school, the University of Tampa.

    Comment by Joel — 01/19/2006 @ 01:57:59 AM

  4. Yeah, all things spring from Orlando!

    I get the Eckerd Drugs thing very occasionally; I’m surprised it hadn’t come up more. It took a while for me to make the connection, because I had heard of the school before the company (there were no Eckerds in NY when I was growing up; ironically, they are there now, but have been removed from native Florida).

    When I was in school, other students would mention that they’d get quizzical looks and questions about why they got interested in becoming pharmacists. And it had become an institutional joke: One guy my freshman year showed off a homemade gray-and-black “Eckerd Drug College” t-shirt he got from his older sibling alum. It must have been circa 1980, and festooned with pillbottles and syringes.

    Comment by CT — 01/19/2006 @ 09:11:46 AM

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