“Today, branding is critical across the institution. And this is a shifting landscape for all of us. The challenge for large public universities like Arizona is our size and complexity. ”
The University of Arizona was faced with a daunting problem. It hadn’t focused on its brand in decades, which led to some default perceptions of what was distinctive about the institution: “the 3 B’s.” Basketball. Business. Big Science. And not much else.
Arizona State and its enigmatic president, Michael Crowe, had been making bold claims about ASU while the University of Arizona had remained quiet. It was time to revitalize the brand.
Tucson is far from just a place where students can wear flip-flops and tank tops year round. And the surrounding valley is far from a barren desert. There are seven ecosystems, as well as diverse cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. The location enables the university to lead the conversation on subjects the world is most interested in now:
|Climate change.||Multilingual, multicultural communities.|
|Water scarcity.||Border issues.|
|What exists in the furthest reaches of space.||Art, culture, and preservation.|
Both the university’s location and its opportunities led us to a simple expression: “boundless.” This theme served as a launchpad for storytelling. It’s not a tagline — rather, its spirit is woven into every iteration of the Arizona brand, across fundraising campaigns, advertising, and day-to-day marketing.
Our strategy to inspire more consistent branding across the university was built on four audience profiles, or personas. Developed to showcase the different ways the visual and verbal elements can be used, these personas gave all communicators an objective and consistent tool for talking about the right aesthetic and voice.
This tool helps showcase how each persona uses the brand elements differently, and is a part of a creative brief to plot where a communication should fall. Heritage elements lean heavily on the primary color palette, institutional typefaces, photos that represent points of pride, and a voice that feels familiar. Unexpected elements include secondary colors, dynamic use of type, and concept-driven photography. Reserved communications use visual elements as sparsely as possible to communicate sophistication. And celebratory elements are bold color, emotive voice, and loud photography and graphic elements.
Working quickly, we rethought the site’s navigational structure, updated its look and feel, and revised the home page’s content, then partnered with the university’s development team to implement the new responsive design.
To show how to use the personas along with the visual and verbal language developed with the “Boundless” brand platform, Ologie crafted comprehensive guidelines and conducted training with both leaders and practitioners on campus.
Arizona’s iconic block “A” is one of the most easily recognized components of the brand. But it wasn’t being used effectively by the different colleges, schools, centers, offices, etc. on campus. We built a framework that showed each entity how to lock up with block A successfully, and inspired a consistent identity across campus.
If you’re a fan of the University of Arizona, you know that “Bear Down” has nothing to do with a mascot, and everything to do with an attitude. We embraced the rally cry to tell an emotive and visual story about the university with an energy that would capture fans’ attention.
Launched in Phoenix to address misperceptions about the university, our academic campaign extended the athletic rally cry with a tagline “Bigger Questions. Better Answers. Bear Down.” Through digital, out-of-home and print advertising, we reinforced the “Boundless” attitude and ensured the UofA got credit for what it does well.
The University of Arizona has an incredibly high level of alumni pride — yet they were giving to the university at a shockingly low rate. As the University of Arizona Foundation prepared for the public phase of a new $1.5 billion campaign, the case that needed to be made wasn’t so much why to give, as when. To reach the foundation’s ambitious goal, the Arizona Now campaign made a strong case for urgency. Communications went beyond showing the university’s important work today: the central message was that every future advancement and every future discovery depended on action that alumni needed to take immediately. Only then could the university continue to have an impact on Arizona and the world beyond.
President Hart had spearheaded the creation of a bold strategic plan that would propel the University of Arizona forward. What the plan lacked was packaging that reflected the bold goals within. Ologie developed a title, “Never Settle,” that activates the “boundless” theme, and crafted materials and a video to help sell the plan to various constituents within the university and outside it.