Sometimes people know, and sometimes people don’t know. I’m new to this (new) job at the Rackham Graduate School, so when I saw our U-M signature staring back at me in someone else’s posts, I thought, Do these people know what they’ve just done? And then, Do I know what I need to know so I can tell them to take down these posts?

It was one of my team members, Vanessa Criste, who saw them first. The posts popped up in our social media management system, Sprout Social, because a business had tagged us.

It wasn’t until we clicked on them, however, that the images attached to the posts were visible. Another team member likes to use Perch to listen sometimes, but the images were not displayed in that feed, either.


brand brand 2

So while it should have been fairly clear that anything with the University of Michigan logo is protected, apparently the company that posted these didn’t know this or didn’t stop to consider it. Perhaps because, as I found out, the marketing for this business is not handled locally.

A call to Steve Busch, Brand Manager for U-M, gave me all the information I needed to contact the business. He informed me of the “cease and desist” letter that the University’s legal team can quickly prepare if the offending party does not promptly remove all verbiage and visual representation of the University’s trademark. The school signatures are part of U-M’s protected identities.

The business took down the posts within a few minutes.

Four simple take-aways:

  1. As you listen to your channels be sure to click through, especially since images may not automatically show up in your feeds.
  2. Take swift, informed action when your brand (and thus the University’s brand) has been misrepresented.
  3. Contact U-M Social and U-M Brand, or the appropriate offices within Global Communications (, when you have any questions. You don’t have to guess or act on partial understanding.
  4. Be sure not to use copyrighted or trademarked material in your own posts without permission.

There are many things I want the University community and the wider world to learn about Rackham. We have so many stories to share of graduate students bringing their diverse perspectives to engage in the creation of knowledge and problem-solving. Together with each unit on campus, we are making data-driven decisions to improve the quality and outcomes of graduate student experiences at U-M. When people see the Rackham signature I want them to immediately recognize an expert leader in graduate education nationally and internationally.

This is what the Rackham signature is for.

-Aileen Kim, Communications Manager, Rackham Graduate School