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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Maryland Continues to Push Bold Strategies With Digital and Social Teams


*Team Infographics is a proud partner of Front Office Sports

At the beginning of this current decade, we saw college athletic departments all over the country race to create a digital brand identity that stood out and matched their on-field identity. Few have been more visibly successful than the University of Maryland, thanks largely in part to the efforts of Director of Social and Digital Media Marty Summa.

Summa arrived at Maryland in 2012, and after spending some time working in the Terps’ marketing department, ended up taking it upon himself to start building a real and meaningful social media presence.

“At the time, it was coaches and SIDs just doing their own thing, but then we moved it under one umbrella,” he said. “Now we have a full creative unit.”

They also utilize a freelance designer with large-scale projects such as team posters. Summa, however, takes on the bulk of the day-to-day responsibilities when it comes to graphic design and social media.

Having one dedicated day-to-day graphic designer, especially on game days, can create a bit of time crunch. Especially when people like Summa have so many other things on their plate during fall and winter sports. This is where Team Infographics has become a lifesaver for Summa and the Terps football and men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“I’ll be fully transparent — we are behind the eight ball in terms of creative staffing,” Summa said. “We got on the bus with Team Infographics four or five years ago. They make things so much easier for me when I’m on the go.”

Team Infographics allows clients to generate high-quality static and motion graphics on the fly by having everything loaded into its unique CMS. All Summa has to do to generate a high-quality post is input a few stats and player names.

“Their motion stuff is great and it all is generated within seconds,” Summa said. “It’s so easy for me when I’m on the court at a basketball game or at a football game in the press box just to generate content quickly without having to build it all myself.”

Summa also had his say about the easy process of working with the designers and staff at Team Infographics. “Working with them is great. Going back and forth, getting all of our branding to them, making sure that the look is consistent with how we do it internally has been really comforting. Our partnership with them has been a huge help for me, especially with a small staff.”

From an aesthetic standpoint, sports fans will be hard-pressed to find a look bolder than that seen on the Terps’ athletic teams.

“One thing that we definitely pride ourselves on is we’re not afraid to go bold, especially with our partnership with Under Armour,” he said. “Being one of the only schools in the country (if not the only one) with four primary colors, it gives us the ability to try new things and be very bright and attention-grabbing. Year to year, we’ve changed it up, but our overall goal every year is to be loud.”

That concept of being loud, bold, and attention-grabbing will surely continue to be a main focus for the Terps moving forward. Last month, the university hired a new athletic director in Damon Evans, who has placed extra emphasis on the department’s branding within the college athletics space.

“We just hired a new athletic director and his main focus was getting our brand to be the biggest in the DMV. We just started a campaign called #RunDMV, which we’re really building off of now, doing a lot of ‘boots on the ground’ marketing, and putting the Maryland brand all throughout Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.”

With the new academic year rapidly approaching, Summa is already hard at work spreading the word about the #RunDMV movement, as well as preparing for Terps football, the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, and the latest chapter in the Maryland-Virginia soccer rivalry, set to be played at Audi Field (home of D.C. United) later this year.

“We just launched our new brand concepts for next year and we are sticking with #FearTheTurtle,” he said. “That’s one of our biggest brand calls-to-action that people associate with us. Getting posters, digital content, digital schedules, and strong video out through social has been our main focus right now.”

The distinct Maryland flag has always been a big part of the school’s design staples, but this year they plan to incorporate the Turtle/Terrapin (a mascot that no other D1 institution can claim) into their social and digital plan.

“Our brand concept this year is a subtle use shell print background. We’ve gone away from the fact that we’re a turtle in the past and really focused on our flag, but this past year we said ‘let’s take #FearTheTurtle and make it a strong focus.’ That mascot is one thing that really sets us apart from everyone.”

With football season less than two months away now, sports fans in the DMV and all over Terp Nation are going to see Summa and team’s daring designs flood their timelines soon enough. The growth of Maryland’s national brand over the better part of the last decade is something the department takes great pride in and is something that Summa and Evans hope to continue moving forward.

“Our new AD takes a great interest in where we stand digitally in the country. So, I’ve been putting together digital reports for him. Once a month, I take our top posts, the growth of our accounts, and some of the bigger influencers (alumni, current students, Maryland celebrities) that are interacting with our brand and lay that out in a really simplistic format for him so he can see the growth over time. He is very interested in the direction of digital media and it helps me benchmark where we are.”

Having that ability to work closely with his superiors, contractors, and staffers has served Summa well over the years, and he credits that collaborative ability as a big reason why he has reached the position he is in. As this summer’s newest rounds of sports business hires get announced, Summa expressed how important being able to work closely with others, in all facets of sport, truly is. Often times, that attitude helps accrue that knowledge that makes professionals better at their craft.

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“A lot of times these situations are a ‘who you know’ or ‘who your references are’ kind of thing. So, do as much as you can, whether that be helping out a friend or taking on an unpaid internship. Just get out there and do as much as you can for the most amount of people, network, and meet people. Social media touches so many different areas. I work day to day with our development office, our media relations staff, our marketing department, even all of our coaches. So there’s not really an area that you don’t need experience in.”

Just as Summa has had to exhibit knowledge in a little bit of everything in his professional journey, you’ll see the Maryland Terrapins excelling in a little bit of everything (from football to lacrosse, from basketball to gymnastics) this coming academic year.

*Team Infographics is a proud partner of Front Office Sports

Follow the Terps on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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