BYU Implements Brand-Strengthening Effort
July 2021 Announcement
After more than two years of work, BYU has completed a major study of the university’s brand and will now begin implementing the project’s recommendations. The study included many discussion groups and nearly 10,000 survey responses from a variety of audiences. Implementation will involve standards for messaging and visual identity, an extensive university marketing campaign, and increased visual branding of the campus.
“We have a unique mission and a great message, but we have not always effectively communicated that mission to the world,” says BYU president Kevin J Worthen. “The university’s brand is a powerful way to convey and reinforce that mission and message. A stronger BYU brand reputation will benefit our students, alumni, and faculty as well as the university and the Church as a whole. In a world that is increasingly skeptical about faith and values, effective brand management is ever more important and will enable us to serve the world better.”
A concept photo illustration shows one of the new BYU banners that will be installed on campus and throughout Provo in fall 2021.
The BYU President’s Council funded and endorsed the brand project, which was led by a team from BYU Advancement with support from Lipman-Hearne, a Chicago-based brand marketing firm with extensive experience in higher education. The work included broad and deep qualitative and quantitative research and incorporated input from every college and major administrative division across campus.
“The brand team has been thorough in seeking a variety of perspectives from across the university,” says advancement vice president Keith Vorkink. “They have held meetings with hundreds of individuals and multiple advisory committees, ensuring this project is truly representative and inclusive.”
The core of the brand project work is a brand messaging sequence that seeks to communicate the university’s mission, values, and character in ways that resonate with audiences, based on insights gained in the research. This brand messaging will be used in marketing efforts and will guide communications strategies across campus.
“Two particular messages resonated strongly with audiences in our testing,” says Vorkink. “The first is that at BYU ‘belief enhances inquiry, study amplifies faith, and revelation leads to rich understanding.’ This statement describes core elements of our unique educational enterprise—the synergy of spiritual and intellectual learning. The other statement that has strong appeal is that ‘BYU strives to be among the exceptional universities in the world and an essential university for the world’—communicating that we believe that BYU, through our students, faculty, and alumni, has an expectation of being excellent so that we can effectively improve the world around us.”
The full messaging sequence will be shared with the university community later this summer; this will include training in how to use the messaging effectively. Building upon the messaging will be a new, ambitious university brand marketing campaign to magnify the university’s reputation among key audiences.
“We need to be better at telling our story to the world,” says Mike Roberts, managing director of Alumni and External Relations, who oversees the brand team. “If we don’t tell our story, others will tell it for us.”
Paired with the messaging is a renewed focus on visual identity consistency. All areas of the university except athletics will use the same visual mark (the BYU monogram) to represent BYU, and the university has created a system for use of the monogram by various categories of entities across campus.
“The power of a brand message is aided by a powerful visual identity,” Roberts said. “Think of the Nike swoosh and the message ‘Just do it.’ That combination is used so consistently that we all know what the swoosh means. That is what we need to do with our message and the monogram. Consistent, clear repetition is the key.”
This emphasis to reinforce the BYU brand will launch in August 2021. This summer, the brand team will work with campus units to plan a schedule for rolling out the brand standards across campus. Work with campus units will begin in September and will last through spring 2022. Rollout efforts will include the development of visual identities, training on using the brand messaging and resources, and the planning of implementation timelines and budgets.
“We appreciate the cooperation and efforts of everyone across campus in this important brand work,” said President Worthen. “We will move expeditiously with this important project and look forward to seeing its impact in the years ahead.”