How USF is Winning the Name Game

by Mary McInerney, USF Magazine

Illustration of San Franciso, CA and Tampa, FL

One reader writes, “I’m tired of people from the University of South Florida calling themselves USF.” Sweta Thota, an associate professor who researches consumer irritation and brandjacking, talks about how and why the University of San Francisco is the real USF.

1. Why does the USF-USF mix-up bother people so much?
When we search online for USF, we get the University of South Florida. Did I ask for the University of South Florida? No. Consumers don’t forget their irritation. And in this case, our audience blames South Florida.

2. How important is being first? USF was founded in 1855, and the other USF was founded in 1956.
I think it is important. We have something called the primacy effect. A person or brand first to market is always remembered first. We’ve been here since 1855, so we won’t let anyone take that away from us.

3. Is the San Francisco USF winning the name game?
Yes. All of our brand campaigns — the University of the Best City Ever, especially — have convinced our audiences, and they believe it. If you can reveal some truths in favor of what you stand for and who you are, that goes a long way in marketing, actually. We can win this game in a happy way. We are proud of who we are.

4. University of South Florida Alumni Association’s Bill McCausland says, “We’re proud and honored by the USF-USF confusion — two excellent institutions with great taste in school colors! While separated by 2,832 miles, we do get the occasional call from University of San Francisco alumni, and it’s always a good chat. Wonderful people!” Thoughts?
Nice! We can weather the confusion through positivity and humor.

5. Tampa or San Francisco?
San Francisco is the most beautiful city and the most happening city in the U.S. Progressive, diverse. Tons of great restaurants. The weather is nice, never too sultry. Where else do you get all that?


USF Magazine May 2022 cover

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This USF News story was published in USF Magazine, where you can find feature stories about university life, alumni Class Notes, and information about events at USF.