Campus Community

Telling Our Story

Written by Mike Thee

September 18, 2014

Seattle U fountain with Admin building in background

Driven by data, the university's new brand concept comes to life.

You may have noticed some new ways in which SU is representing itself these days. Maybe you've driven by a billboard or seen a sign on a bus or heard a spot on KUOW. Or seen a new look on printed or electronic materials, such as the website centerpiece banners. 

These and other recent efforts are the first visible manifestations of a branding initiative the university undertook more than a year ago and began implementing last January. It's an initiative with many components that is being phased in over time. 

One key component of the overall brand effort is a visibility and graduate marketing campaign of which the billboards, bus ads, radio spots and digital and search ads are a part. The current round of ads, which began hitting the Seattle landscape earlier in the month, focus on our distinctive, Jesuit academic experience and play on such local staples as the 12th Man (Ballard Bridge) and Big Bertha (Alaskan Way Viaduct) to affirm SU's deep and longstanding bond with its namesake city. The tagline, "Here We Dare," underscores the university's commitment to providing an education that pushes and challenges students to know more and do more. The graduate marketing component will leverage the broader awareness effort and be more targeted to program specific audiences.

Barry Mitzman, professor of strategic communications in Arts and Sciences and a member of the 12-member Brand Leadership Group (BLG) that has been overseeing the brand initiative, sees the "Here We Dare" campaign as fitting with the university's mission. "Part of what inspires me about the Jesuit tradition-and SU as a community in particular," he says, "is a commitment to engaging with the world…Many authentic attributes of SU are captured brilliantly in three words: 'Here We Dare.'"

Grounded in research

The BLG has largely been informed by extensive research. Matt Isaac, assistant professor of marketing in the Albers School and BLG member, says the research pointed low awareness of SU among prospective students, even in the region, the need to more "clearly state its unique value proposition," and an opportunity capitalize on the university's location. 

SU's messaging, Isaac says, "must include a strong and clear positioning, which communicates in a simple way how people should think of the university and why it should be preferred over others." 

What's next?

Strategic investments in advertising will continue to be made at various points in the upcoming year to raise the profile of the university, generally speaking, as well as specific graduate programs. 

On the print side, the university's latest undergraduate and graduate view books-key recruitment materials-feature the design elements of the new brand and demonstrate its ability to flex to various audiences, whether high school students or professionals seeking to advance in their careers. On the web, companion video profiles of the undergraduate and graduate students have graced the homepage in recent weeks. 

Here on our physical campus, new signage has been added along the Broadway corridor, and we'll soon see new banners going up on light posts with the theme "Know More. Do More. Be More." 

There's more to come. Next month, a redesigned version of SU's homepage will be rolled out, and in the coming months there will be a revamping of about a dozen other pages on the website that are most highly trafficked by stakeholders, particularly prospective students.