24 Sep No Joke: Texas A&M’s Backstory Of Traditions And Content Marketing
“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” – Spirit of Aggieland
(I should preface this post with a disclaimer: I am a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, Class of ’97. [Whoop!], so this article MIGHT contain a SMALL hint of bias.)
Tradition is a powerful thing. From having your mom fix lasagna for you on your birthday every year to opening presents on Christmas Eve, we honor and embrace that which is familiar because it gives us comfort in knowing that, despite the changes and the chaos of every day life, some things are as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. It’s akin to a small child that knows their parents will be there when they need them to console them and to soothe the hurt away.
At Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, traditions are at the heart of the university’s appeal and a major part of the story of Aggieland. The Corps of Cadets, Aggie Yell, Reveille, the 12th Man, Silver Taps, Muster— all these and more are branded into the Aggie psyche and give rise to the “bleed maroon” philosophy. Though it remains one of the top research universities in the world and is always at the forefront of scientific discovery and innovation, the traditions surrounding A&M keep it firmly rooted in a past sprinkled with loyalty, simplicity, and honor.
Traditions are as ubiquitous at A&M as messy fingers at a toddler finger painting class. Saying “Howdy” to passers by, keeping off the grass around the Memorial Student Center, Kyle Field, etc. — one can’t throw a rock on campus without hitting something associated with a long-standing tradition or a tradition in its early stages. A&M’s reputation is built around the stories surrounding these traditions and how they continue to define the Aggie Experience for both students and visitors. The combination of the classic with the modern, the old with the new, the reliable with the unknown— these are all things that make Texas A&M a truly special place among universities.
Bonfire was a sacred tradition to students and alumni until that tragic day in ’99 when 12 Aggies lost their lives constructing that year’s structure. But from this heartache another Aggie tradition rose like a phoenix from the flames of sadness: Aggies helping others. Immediately, the entire Aggie community came together to assist the injured and those left behind. It was an almost instinctual display of not only the best of the Aggie spirit, but also the best of humanity. The football game between the Aggies and the University of Texas was played before a rowdy but respectful crowd. The rivalry and good-natured ribbing didn’t seem as important on that day as watching a great football game. At halftime of any given football game, A&M students sit during the opposing school’s band performance (the only time during a game when they sit) but on this day, the Aggies stood for the UT band as well, as they paid their respects to the fallen. Sure, the Aggies won 20-16 that day, but Aggie tradition and solidarity was the true victor.
Though time ran out this past Saturday against Alabama before the Aggies could tie and imminently take the lead for good, students, alumni, and friends of the university nonetheless were gracious hosts to their Crimson Tide counterparts. In the September 18th Houston Chronicle, Alabama fan David D. Wininger, opines:
“Never have we been engaged by more accommodating fans. We were never cursed once. People ranging from student-age to old-age stopped in order to ask if we needed any information or directions… . I take off my hat and send my kindest regards to the supportive and accommodating A&M fans.”
This hospitality is no fluke or a one-time deal; Aggies are taught respect and kindness as part of the “other curriculum” for which the school is famous. The Aggie Code of Honor, “Aggies do not lie, cheat, or steal nor do they tolerate those that do,” is taken to heart and exemplified on a daily basis.
What’s your business’s story? Does your business sit down with its customers and tell its tale? Does your brand have the loyalty and dedication of almost 350,000 former Texas A&M students and 50,000 current students? Maybe it’s time you got a pen and paper, sat down with your brand, and asked it to start from the beginning. And with marketing moving in the storytelling direction, your customers are looking for a cozy spot on the floor to listen to what you have to say.