University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo

Situation

The University at Buffalo (UB) is the largest and most comprehensive research university in the SUNY system, and a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities (AAU). It has multiple nationally ranked departments, the only public law school in New York, and a new medical research and educational complex under construction downtown.

UB had embarked upon its most transformational strategy in a generation, with a vision focused on academic excellence, research and scholarly distinction, transformative student experiences and engaging public service. Critical to success was the development and execution of a comprehensive and sustainable brand strategy, aligned with these strategic plans and aspirations.

Faced with a university identity that lacked clarity and cohesiveness, including inconsistent use of the university name; a lack of a unified story to express who UB is, what it does and why it matters; and a Buffalo environment that seemed to present more challenges than opportunities, UB embarked upon a strategic university-wide approach to define its distinctive attributes and benefits.

Strategy

Through extensive research, and in close collaboration with the university community, we identified the common essence that unites UB, creates distinction and inspires pride. This essence included characteristics unique to UB that went far beyond its core definition, such as the tenacity of its people, the tightness of the community, and a forward-thinking acceptance of diverse backgrounds and cultures. We characterized the UB community as creative thinkers and doers, whose individual ambition is amplified by the many possibilities and supportive culture on campus. Many of these characteristics are shared by the city of Buffalo – the city of good neighbors where a persistent, pragmatic spirit is leading the city through an amazing renaissance.

Having also identified that most internal and external audiences familiar with UB would prefer University at Buffalo (UB for short) as the singular name for the university, we recommended its adoption across all schools, units and programs, including athletics.

This brand strategy, and corresponding identity recommendation, embraced UB’s strength of place and celebrated the parallel connections across the school that galvanize its community and inspire pride among faculty, staff and students. We collaborated with UB and brand agency Ologie to create a distinctive storytelling platform entitled “Here is How,” that catalyzes the unique experiences of being at UB, and in Buffalo. A refreshed and focused visual identity system (also by Ologie) brings all expression into a coherent and powerful system. For the first time in recent memory, UB had a strong, singular identity strategy to link and integrate academic, administrative and athletics identities.

Results

With the launch of its storytelling platform, UB revealed its distinctive and pride-inspiring essence to the region, the nation, and the world. The media coverage of the launch indicated a growing understanding of, and appreciation for, UB’s stature and growing momentum locally, regionally, and nationally.

In 2017, one year after the launch, the school earned its highest applicant pool ever. UB then saw freshman enrollment topping 4,000 for the first time in the University’s history, citing Marshall’s brand strategy as key in this accomplishment: 

“UB’s new brand strategy, launched last year, is beginning to pay dividends as the university tells its story to a national and international audience, while expressing the unique experiences of being at the university and in Buffalo.

“”We’re attracting attention for UB in an increasingly competitive higher education environment by distinctively communicating more clearly and consistently about our mission and impact on the world,”” said Nancy Paton, UB’s vice president for communications. By strengthening its reputation, UB is attracting and retaining talented students and world-class faculty, while building pride and inspiring faculty, staff, students and alumni, she added. Additionally, UB continues to climb in the influential U.S. News & World Report college rankings.”

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Date

April 10, 2017

Category

Brand Research, Identity and Brand Strategy, Names and Naming Systems, Positioning Strategy

Tags
Brand Research, brand strategy, city of buffalo, here is how, Identity, new york bulls, ologie, rebrand, suny, UB, University at Buffalo