Positioning the World’s Greatest Public University for Future Success
The University of California, Berkeley, is widely viewed as the world’s greatest public university. Claiming 50 Nobel prizes, 32 MacArthur Fellows, 356 Guggenheim Fellows, 4 Pulitzer Prizes, 137 National Academy of Science winners and 74 Fulbright Scholars, it has many facts in its favor. When higher education funding began to suffer, however, these unemotional data points were insufficient to inspire support for Berkeley’s future.
Research showed that Berkeley’s “tangible” attributes – the hard facts – were true, but not effective alone. We looked to the university’s “intangibles” – those qualities that are felt, not measured, and that define the Berkeley experience. Because these contribute to a university’s unique culture, they can be more emotional and differentiating. Berkeley’s culture is about social consciousness and self-reliance; a chaotic but open, down-to-earth environment, attracting free-thinkers who are driven to make change. The distilled idea that drove the positioning and messaging platform was simple, powerful, unique to Berkeley but appropriate across the entire university: “Berkeley reimagines the world, by challenging convention to shape the future.”
This statement helped explain not just that Berkeley is a place of excellence, but why it is a place of excellence, and how it can be counted on in the future. It provided a unifying story that would inspire diverse audience messaging, yet result in a better collective picture of Berkeley than fragmented messages could previously provide.
Marshall partnered with Ologie, a creative firm with a strong higher education portfolio, to support this platform with a look and feel to be used across communications to Berkeley’s wide audience base. With enthusiastic support from the Chancellor and other university leaders, Berkeley’s many communication leaders disseminated the verbal and visual toolkit throughout the university, to enthusiastic adoption. Communications based on what makes Berkeley a uniquely great place will continue to draw students, researchers and donors for all the right reasons.