Talk about a branding problem. Sadly this one has literally killed people. A violent California gang calling themselves the Bulldogs has adopted Fresno State branding for it’s visual affiliation and innocent people are being murdered because of it. The presence of this gang was recognized by prison officials as early as 1986, with it’s members donning Fresno State gear and bulldog logo tattoos. The gang has grown immensely over the years, accounting for 70 percent of shootings in Fresno in 2006.
In 2011 Stephen Maciel, a father of four, was killed by a Bulldogs gang member in a liquor store parking lot. He was wearing a Fresno State shirt. It was discovered to be a case of mistaken identity, with the victim having no gang affiliation. The gang has made it unsafe to be an active fan of the university’s sports teams.
Obviously, this has given Fresno State University a vexing dilemma for university officials. The Football team is as popular as ever this year, posting a 9-0 record so far and a top 25 ranking. Apparel sales are high, but the spread of this brand would seem to only increase the chances of more tragedy.
What could be done? Should the university let the gang dictate how to brand their school? Or should they seek a new identity that the gang would be less likely to adopt and hope the community rallies around the new insignia? It’s a tough call. In a fair world this decision would not have to be made. What do you think should be done?