As one of just two universities in the country with land, sea, sun, and space grants, Oregon State University has a big story to tell.
Founded in 1868, the university has a deep rooted history of groundbreaking research with impact in every corner of the globe. It also has the goods to back up its claim to excellence. Which leaves the question, how does a place like Oregon State let go of its innate humility in order to make its story better known?
Oregon State and Ologie embarked on a mission to answer that question in 2015. We began a near-year-long discovery effort to help uncover exactly how all of the university’s successes could build toward a bigger message. We heard how people at the institution were “humble to a fault,” tending not to prominently promote their remarkable work, which addresses some of the world’s greatest challenges and powerfully benefits the state of Oregon.
With this insight in mind, the university made a choice to go bold — a trait many schools claim, but one that Oregon State truly delivers on. Consider some of the university’s unique proof points:
We initially explored several potential directions for the institution’s positioning, each rooted in the aspects that set Oregon State apart and best aligned with all of the incredible work already taking place. We worked together to determine which potential direction articulated the strengths that the university could own, and that represented what the market truly wants.
While we typically develop an institution’s positioning and messaging together as complementary elements of the strategy, we took a fresh approach with Oregon State. Because we wanted to explore the resonance of a range of potential directions, we created the positioning before building out the brand story. The brand story expands on the promise of the positioning, supported by four key attributes that reflect who Oregon State is, profoundly and distinctively.
Being “bold” means something different to each university. At OSU, it was a willingness to go beyond the expected fact-based stories to take credit for the unmatched work that expands the university’s reach and improves the lives of people all around the globe.
Now that Oregon State was ready to lay claim to its accolades, impact, and excellence, Ologie crafted a creative platform that fully illustrates this new confidence and allows the university to stand tall in a marketplace of loud voices.
Sometimes, a master brand will echo back to where a university has been and what it has previously done. But for Oregon State, the master brand was different from anything it had ever executed before. The resulting brand celebrated not only the institution’s incredible research and beautiful settings, but also the impact of its work and the experiential learning opportunities it offers. We introduced a photo style to allow these traits to shine through, and developed brand messaging that showcases a personality full of wit, energy, and confidence.
To illustrate how to use the brand along with the visual and verbal language developed with the “Out There” platform, we created comprehensive guidelines to further guide the development and articulation of the institution’s unified brand.
In another display of owning the creative platform, Oregon State led an all-day symposium to train its team of communicators in how to use and live the brand. This internal momentum converged with a ten-day, three-city master brand launch, which brought the community together to celebrate a new era for the university’s identity. It all looked a little something like this:
With a strong understanding and deep sense of pride, the Oregon State team quickly latched onto the master brand and ran with it. This video created by the university’s marketing team perfectly encapsulates the brand.
It was crucial to show how the “Out There” platform could flex to express the story of a sub-brand while remaining true to the spirit of the master brand. Working with the College of Engineering, Ecampus, Extension Services, and the OSU Foundation, we developed sub-brand positionings, guidelines, and sample tactics, expressing the distinctive presence of each entity. The experience helped display the strength and viability of the master brand, and provided inspiration for how other parts of the institution could make “Out There” their own.