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NC State Earns Top Honor in Collegiate Licensing

Extraordinary work by NC State's Office of Strategic Brand Management lands the Wolfpack national recognition for collegiate trademark and licensing.

Mr. and Ms. Wuf show their school spirit on main campus.

The International Collegiate Licensing Association (ICLA) recently named NC State University its 2023 Synergy Award winner. The award is given annually to a university team that demonstrates exceptional work in the collegiate licensing industry. 

The NC State Office of Strategic Brand Management (OSBM), established in 2019, works to strategically steward and advance the university’s brand through partnerships and collaborations inclusive of trademark licensing. In addition to receiving this year’s Synergy Award, the team also ranked 28th in the nation in 2023 among the Collegiate Licensing Company’s (CLC) over 700 university partners  for licensing royalties generated, which is up a remarkable 12 spots from 40th since OSBM launched four years ago. 

“The Synergy Award is the highest honor in the collegiate trademark licensing industry, and our team is excited to be recognized for our work to protect and advance the NC State brand,” said Chris Boyer, assistant vice chancellor for strategic brand management. “The continued success and growth of our partnerships demonstrate both the value our team provides to partners and the rising tide of the NC State brand – to be associated with the Pack is to be associated with success. I’m incredibly proud of our team.”

One of the requirements of the ICLA Synergy Award winner is that the team must have made significant contributions to the collegiate licensing industry through innovative or new ideas during the academic year. OSBM’s approach to true cobranded partnerships are an example of how the team worked to ensure licensing agreements go beyond traditional licenses for logo use.

“Our recent work with 321 Coffee is just one great example of a mutually beneficial, brand collaboration with deeper meaning and connections for NC State and our constituents,” Boyer said. “These partnerships allow for real-world opportunities for our students, and help us deepen relationships with local businesses, alumni and friends.”

These types of connections and partnerships are at the heart of OSBM’s impressive sales and revenue growth over the past several years. 

“We’re being strategic in how we approach partnerships, yes, but there’s also an increasing affinity for and interest in the NC State brand,” said Gregg Zarnstorff, director of trademark licensing and brand protection. “We’ve nearly doubled our sales revenue from officially licensed products in two fiscal years – that really speaks to the strength of the brand overall and our team’s work to steward it responsibly.”

The large majority of net revenues (90%) from the NC State trademark go directly to support scholarships in the areas of need, merit, study abroad and athletics. More information about OSBM’s impact and success can be found in its 2023 Brand Snapshot report.