The University of Texas at Austin’s New Brand Strategy:
Building On Our Leadership Reputation
The University of Texas at Austin has reached a “leadership moment.”
By many measures, it is one of the top universities in the nation. With more than 50,000 students and 3,000 faculty members, UT has more bright, motivated people on one campus than any other university. Its professional schools are ranked among the best across disciplines – from business and engineering to education, public affairs, law and the humanities. Its faculty is world-renowned for its research in critical areas such as children’s health, alternative energy, new technology and economic policy. Its alumni are leaders in every walk of life – from politics and law to business and entrepreneurship to entertainment and medicine. And, its athletic program has consistently set standards for excellence and high performance in almost every sport.
In short, more than any other university, it combines public access to excellence at undergraduate and graduate levels of education and across an unmatched breadth in faculty, programs and research.
Yet, its alumni base of nearly 400,000 around the world is not fully engaged. With a flat 14 percent average annual giving rate among its alumni, UT lags behind many other top universities. Moreover, its funding from the state has been severely reduced over the past several years and the university now faces unprecedented budget shortfalls.
It is time for the University to strengthen our leadership in a bold and dramatic way.
“This is our moment. There is something very special about being public in higher education. And we have a new way of thinking about the role of a university,” President William Powers Jr.
In a world where change is happening at breakneck speed, and with global problems – security, climate change, hunger, energy – continuing to escalate, the nation and the world are increasingly looking to vision and leadership from colleges and universities to help find solutions for the future.
More than any university in the U.S., The University of Texas at Austin is positioned to create a new model for public higher education. And in ways that can help change the world – now and in the future.
To make this happen, the entire university community – alumni, faculty, students and their families, staff, elected officials -- must focus on this common purpose. And, to do so, we must embrace a new framework for how we think about and communicate about the university.
During the past months, we have conducted extensive research with all of our key internal and external stakeholders to develop a set of tools that will help us unify our communications. These include:
- Positioning Statement
- Supporting Positioning Messages/Screening Questions
- Target Mindset
- Brand Personality
- Brand Identity
Our research indicates that the statement below resonates for our key constituents while emphasizing UT’s strengths. The purpose of this statement is to inform the way we communicate about UT.
The University of Texas at Austin, a community driven by a culture of excellence, combines scholarship, scale, and the Texas spirit to create a powerful engine for advancing society.
Supporting messages provide focus and framework
These are the key messages that support the positioning statement and define the university. For each supporting message, there are questions that can be used to ensure that we have content that is aligned with each of the supporting points.
UT has a vision to be the best public research university in America and is leading the effort to transform higher education for students of Texas and the world.
Our people—students, alumni, friends, faculty, and staff—are engaged like no university community in the world with a passion for making the world a better place.
UT is at the center of one of the world’s fastest-growing entrepreneurial centers in Austin, Texas, driving innovation through creativity and critical thinking.
Make an Impact
The university’s unmatched scope and scale combine to make the greatest impact on issues, people and events that are changing the world.
Our research shows that in order to achieve our positioning goals, we must connect with a new generation of “game changers” who will help lead the charge – those in our community and around the world who are smart, youthful and possess a global outlook. Game changers expect the university to change in order to be the best. In essence, they are where change will begin.
The research identified the “personality” attributes that are an important part of our brand identity. We must be conscious of communicating in ways that convey the authentic personality of the University of Texas at Austin. We are bold, passionate, competitive, loyal, unique and innovative, and those qualities should be reflected in everything we say and do.
The research showed our brand identity has started to splinter. For instance, you can find more than 70 shades of burnt orange in our communications materials. To move toward a more unified brand, while still allowing some creative flexibility, we are refreshing our brand identity system. It will be rolled out in the coming months.