The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is partnering with Barkley, a marketing firm based in Kansas City, to align all university communications under a unified brand as it seeks to build reputation, further its pursuit of enrollment goals, and showcase how the institution serves the state.
The selection of Barkley grew from a recommendation from the Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Taskforce on Smart Growth on the importance of developing a strong, comprehensive and cohesive brand that would unify messages across the university — from academics, student experience and alumni to athletics and research. The project will assist Nebraska in expanding enrollment and effectively communicating the contributions the university makes to the state, nation and world.
“A brand is a collective of ideas, equities and design systems that differentiate Nebraska from other institutions, but it’s also a reflection of our internal culture,” said Donde Plowman, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. “It’s not about logos or tag lines. Our brand is the journey of our students, in how we teach, the top-notch faculty we attract, a future donor, and on how we approach research and innovation.
“By unifying our understanding of what makes us unique and clearly describing how we serve the world, we make communicating about the university more efficient and effective—through an effective brand strategy, our resources will go further in supporting our goals from recruitment to retention to reputation.”
The work with Barkley will be led by Amber Williams, assistant vice chancellor for academic services and enrollment management, in coordination with University Communication staff.
Barkley was selected through a competitive bid process that included gathering feedback from faculty and staff. The firm’s first task is to immerse itself into the university culture, a process that will include one-on-one phone calls and small group workshops with faculty, staff, alumni and students.
“We will ask the university community to engage in these conversations,” Williams said. “Our brand must be an authentic representation of who we are, and we need your help and honest feedback to build it together.”
A significant amount of groundwork has been completed on the branding initiative in the past year, including gathering input from university stakeholders through a variety of workshops and surveys.
“We will continue to seek ideas and input from the university community throughout the process,” Plowman said. “That continued partnership is essential as we work together to accomplish our lofty goals.”