Montana State University, located in Bozeman, educates 14,000 students as part of its mission as the state’s land-grant institution. Set in the picturesque Gallatin Valley, the campus offers a one-of-a-kind blend of academic excellence and outdoor adventure. The Montana State University Alumni Foundation, an affiliated but private nonprofit, houses the university’s alumni association and the MSU Foundation, which raises money and stewards resources to benefit the university and its students.
As the Montana State University Alumni Foundation wrapped up the 18-month quiet phase of its comprehensive campaign and prepared to launch the campaign publicly, the need for a campaign brand — including theme, visual identity, and key messages — became increasingly apparent. The foundation partnered with Ologie to establish a platform for compelling communications to engage alumni and supporters around the country and across the full spectrum of giving levels.
Before we could connect with the foundation’s audiences, we had to understand them — and that’s where our discovery and strategy work proved critical. The Montanans we got to know through our research were self-reliant, community-minded, and incredibly practical. So even as we conveyed the campaign’s important goals and lofty vision, we used language and other elements that were grounded in reality, from the big idea (“What It Takes”) down to the details about where funds would be used.
Recent years have seen renewed appreciation for and commitment to Montana State’s designation as a land-grant university. In part, this means ensuring that everyone has access to education and that the community benefits from the university’s work in many ways. This mission, which rings true for internal and external stakeholders, was the foundation for the campaign narrative. Verbally and visually, the case statement also drew heavily on a sense of place: not just the university’s physical location, but also its distinct character, which resonates deeply with the piece’s audience.
Ologie designed the What it Takes website to reflect the standards developed for the campaign, including bold visual language, color palette, and voice. Fully responsive, the site shares the campaign’s story, progress, and the impact it has on the students, university, and state.
Since the beginning of the campaign, Montana State has not only met its goal, it has greatly surpassed it. The goal was $300 million, and it was met by 117%, totaling just more than $351 million raised thus far.