“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.” — Simon Sinek

The benefits of higher education [PDF] are lofty and as varied as the people who learn at, work for and provide support to educational institutions across the globe. Career readiness and higher lifetime incomes. The knowledge and ability to adapt to a changing world. Improving the economic and societal wellbeing of our communities.

But how, exactly, does the University of Louisville ensure these benefits are delivered and realized? What are we, the Cardinal Family, working to accomplish? And why should people care?

These are questions the Office of Communications and Marketing aims to answer through the brand evolution initiative now being shared with the campus community and slated to launch to external audiences via an integrated marketing campaign beginning in early 2022. At the direction of the Office of the President and in support of the university strategic plan, UofL has refreshed its identity to include the addition of a strategic brand framework and messaging guidelines to complement the existing core brand visual standards.

“People want to engage with brands — with organizations and businesses — that stand for something. In order to remain competitive, we need to differentiate UofL and help people better understand who we are, how we’re unique, and what we stand for — our ‘why,’ ” said Kim Butterweck, executive director of brand and marketing for OCM. “Our brand framework is the roadmap for expressing UofL’s noble purpose in a memorable way and ensuring the experience we provide to our students and other constituents aligns with that ‘why.’”

Through extensive market research, OCM and creative partner BVK uncovered the emotional core of the UofL brand and then articulated the primary benefit the university provides. This forms the foundation of the brand communications framework, and aligns with the university’s mission and vision: UofL is a vital ecosystem that creates thriving futures for students, our community and society.

There are three primary message points, or pillars, that support this brand positioning and highlight our competitive advantages:
Redefining Student Success: UofL invests in the whole student to unleash their potential and prepare them for the careers, workplaces and complex challenges of tomorrow.
• Research and Innovation Powerhouse: UofL creates and applies knowledge that improves lives.
Premier Metropolitan University: UofL is dynamically connected to the local and global community.

“We are one university and we should be speaking with one voice,” said Erica Walsh, OCM’s director of marketing. “Our new communications framework and messaging guidelines will ensure a consistent voice, tone and personality across university communications moving forward. It also allows us to more easily show what sets UofL apart and helps create meaningful connections with our audiences.”

Throughout the summer and fall of 2021, OCM hosted several workshops to share UofL’s new brand positioning and messaging with key faculty, staff and students. These sessions also included the rollout of phase one of an extensive toolkit for communicators across campus and coincided with the formation of the UofL Brand Council. Comprised of the top-level communicators in each school/college and key administrative units, the Brand Council is responsible for developing and managing communications and marketing strategies to improve overall brand awareness, perceptions and engagement.

“The power behind the UofL brand lies with those on campus making things; creating brand opportunities that reflect and amplify the values of the institution,” said Brian Faust, creative director for UofL. “Unit marketing needs are really diverse, so we worked to find commonalities among those needs to develop a roadmap for branded templates and assets. We have been fully committed in this process to providing more tools, training and resources for the folks doing this difficult work. In the end, it helps all of us — as well as the university.”

Information sessions are available for faculty, staff and students as the brand evolution initiative continues, leading to the launch of the university’s new marketing campaign, “Here and Beyond,” early next year. Virtual sessions are scheduled for Nov. 10, Nov. 12 and Nov. 15. Visit the listings on the UofL events calendar for more information and to register for a session.