Brand Positioning

In order to develop a brand that’s able to flex for different audiences, we had to first define the general tone of our messaging. A baseline personality, if you will. So we started by identifying several qualities that are or should consistently be used as descriptors for our brand. Six words were selected to describe these qualities, based on what dozens of students, faculty and staff members, and alumni told us about the University of Oregon.

The Six Tone Words

No, this character quality doesn’t mean we should ever be disrespectful or disparaging. It reminds us that our brand should not shrink from being bold, unexpected, and fearless about challenging convention. We can dial this quality up to create messaging for prospective and current students. Or dial it down for peer, donor, and key opinion leader audiences.

We never take our eyes off the horizon. We exist as a university to help push humanity forward. We collaborate, innovate and find better ways. This word reminds us to embrace our research roots and our can-do spirit. We can dial this trait up to focus on where we’re going and what’s possible. Or dial it down to focus more on what we’ve done or what we’re currently doing to find better ways.

Simply put, there is nothing that we don’t do well here. Which is uncommon. And something that we must be comfortable touting. Usually with the help of confident, straightforward messaging and unsubtle design. We never want to come across as arrogant or conceited, but we should absolutely dial this quality up to communicate our achievements and UO pride. We also see this as “Extra Ordinary.” As in more than the usual. There’s more here than what you expect.

There’s just something about this place. The energy on campus is palpable. The electricity in the air at UO events is astonishing. It comes from everywhere. From the lush, green environment that enrobes the university. From the town that supports us. And from the students, faculty and staff members, and friends who fuel our positivity and innovation. And everyone who runs and bikes and hikes and skis and plays hard. “Alive” is about our desire to do.

It’s about nature. But it’s not just about nature. It’s about human nature and the way we interact with each other. You can be doing something well and be intense and in someone’s face, or you can be relaxed and comfortable in who you are. That's us. Approachable. That’s how the UO carries itself. The more this lever is dialed up, the more casual the tone.

The university has a long history of being inclusive. From the Free Speech Plaza to the welcoming mentality applied to everyone, we pride ourselves in welcoming all kinds. But it’s more than that. We don’t merely welcome them, we encourage them to collaborate and support each other as they discover who they are. A physics student who wants to also major in cinema studies? Sure. Come on in.

Tone Mixes by Audience

The brand tone is designed to flex for different audiences. For example, when speaking to current and prospective students, turn up “irreverence” and “alive.” However, when creating messaging for a peer or donor audience, turn down those elements and turn up the volume on “progressive” and “extraordinary.” Here are some examples of how you might mix the tone for various audiences.