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20 Questions with Joe Jamison

April 6, 2015

Name: Joe Jamison
Position/Institution: Brand Identity/Licensing Officer for the University of South Dakota
Number of years in your position: 6
Alma Mater(s): University of South Dakota (twice)
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

1. Why did you become involved in ICLA?
I was calling references for a project and ended up on the phone with two different ICLA Board members. They both spoke of the upcoming ICLA Winter Symposium and it sounded interesting, so I originally joined in order to attend. After finding out more about ICLA, it's a great way to learn about collegiate licensing and make contacts at other institutions.

2. What is your favorite part about being a member of ICLA?
The member's willingness to share information face to face, on the phone, or through the listserv.

3. What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
The continual education of departments and student groups about brand and policy restrictions is the biggest challenge for me.

4. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
Getting involved with the purchasing procedure for our state (we have a centralized system for six regent institutions) has ensured that I have the bill payers on the lookout for logo usage. You might be surprised what some departments are ordering without contacting you and claiming it's approved.

5. What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
Critical thinking and anticipating outcomes. It's easy to make a snap decision; it's much harder to back-pedal once something is in the public.

6. Who has been the most influential person in your career?
It's recent, but my biggest influence has been my coworker Diane Wirth who handles retail development. With her experience as a former buyer for the Duck Stores, she has introduced me to the other side of the branded pieces I approve. Also, she's hilarious.

7. What is one item you cannot live without?
I'm not all that materialist so I would say my wallet to be able to buy whatever it is I lost or forgot to pack.

8. Who would you choose to switch places with for a day?
At this point of the season, I'd pick almost anyone in a warm climate enjoying some time on a lake.

9. What is your favorite sporting event that you have ever attended?
I've never attended any large conference games, but a great game for me was the South Dakota Coyotes vs. the Minnesota Gophers football in 2010. We were very much the underdog playing in Minneapolis and ended up winning in a very close game.

10. Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
In undergraduate and graduate school I was working with the Licensing Director on creatives and was interested in what he did. Six months after graduation (and his departure) I had this position. Interesting fact, he ended up being my licensing agency representative for a few years.

11. In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model?
That's very difficult for me to say as a new entrant into the DI licensing pool. I have a lot of respect for schools that have been able to create a national color identity outside of their logos, Texas orange or North Carolina blue.

12. How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career in collegiate licensing?
Hearing all of the projects that have been successful at other campuses has shown me that I can do more from my office than just police existing marks. Following in Maggie Harris' steps, my office has started creating custom, first-of-its-kind pieces (custom mascot plush, golf head cover, bedding) and committing to large minimums. We are able to take these orders and offer smaller quantities to local retailers just entering collegiate retail.

13. What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career in licensing?
I feel like the education path I took perfectly lined me up for licensing. My undergraduate degree is in Graphic Design and I have a Master of Business Administration. This mix has given me the opportunity to be both creative and logical in solving various branding and licensing issues.

14. What challenges do you face when working with students or vendors?
The largest challenge with either group is providing alternatives to the artwork submission/logo creation they are asking for and not just telling them "No."

15. Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
To expand on the minimum orders project mentioned above, we have run a pop-up USD store over the holiday season for the past two years. I have had the opportunity to design exterior marketing wraps, signage, and some of the merchandise itself. It has been very rewarding hearing directly from our fans and alumni how excited they were to see all of the USD stuff. On the other side of that, it was an added bonus to take a jab at all of the SDSU (South Dakota State) fans in the area, which were not shy to state their outrage.

16. In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future?
Up and out. The most dedicated fans will continue to look for new ways to show their support, vendors will come up with new products to meet that need, and we will have to answer by adapting our brand. The push toward individualized products will be a challenge we will need to address very soon.

17. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field of collegiate licensing?
It's pretty simple, but think before you speak. In that same vein, my advice is write your emails without entering in the recipient's address. Take a moment to gather your thoughts (or calm down, in some cases) and review your message before firing off that email.

18. What was your biggest professional failure/mistake and what did you learn from it?
I'm still fairly new to the industry, so there's time to have a more profound "learning experience," but my biggest mistake has been overlooking our establishment date on a garment sold by a regional chain. This has taught me to proof artwork more closely as the vendors have a lot of schools to keep straight.

19. What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office?
Probably about 85% of my time.

20. What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium?
I always enjoy the educational sessions. As I have mentioned, I try to incorporate them in when and however I can. Beyond that, one of the most rewarding things is being able to meet directly with the vendors to see what they offer. I can look through my list of licensed vendors and not recognize a company name only to stop and see they would be a perfect fit of this department or that retailer. Plus, who doesn't want to walk five miles at the tradeshow with 20+ lbs of catalogs strapped to your back?