It has a unifying power that transcends time, trends and current events. How well this is delivered externally goes hand in hand with how well it’s understood internally. What we stand for, what makes us different, and why people should care, all stem from how deeply we understand our brand, product and place. We invested into internal understanding before we rolled out the new campaign and it paid dividends. When it was time to launch, we rigorously prepared a two day brand event and the 400 colleagues who attended returned to their respective departments not only excited but informed, educated and hopefully inspired to share with their colleagues.”
With a clear vision and brand platform to underpin the progression of the Purdue University’s reputation and impact, Ethan recognised flexibility was needed within this to ensure it catered for the many stakeholders that come into touch with the brand. He and his team undertook rigorous research along the way to understand the audience requirements and reflect these in the output.
“We felt the giant leap was a good insight, but it was the tip of an iceberg as it had been a long time since we had deeply studied the Purdue University brand. So we set off into a year of deep market research to understand our essence and create an evolved marketing platform for ‘The Next Giant Leap’. We engaged, listened and learned from our audiences. We learned that for some, the notion of a giant leap was actually intimidating. A 17 year old coming to Purdue for the first time would tell us ‘I’m not sure I’m capable of a giant leap, I’m more about the small steps that it takes to get there’. We had to create a brand platform that had enough dexterity to flex and speak to a 17 year old, their parents, our most esteemed alumni and everything in between. We arrived at a brand platform underpinned by six brand pillars; accessible prestige, safety and security, supportive transformation, shared drive, thinkers and doers and balance. These can be further distilled into an essence summarised by four words; persistence, innovation, together and value. We’re gritty, we bring incredible people together to solve the world’s toughest challenges, from putting people into space to curing forms of cancer, and we are committed to affordability and accessibility. These four unique legs of the stool make us distinct and different.”
Whilst the benefits of having a distinguished brand proposition and a united team working towards this shared mission are wide and far reaching, for many marketers it can be difficult to judge when it is the right time to take this next step. Ethan and his team were offered the perfect opportunity when a historic event opened dialogue across the institution and gave them the space to reinforce the university’s legacy by coming together.
“There were a few catalysts that springboarded our rebrand. We celebrated our 150th anniversary and it became the first time marketing and communications individuals came together to represent something much larger. It was a great opportunity to get individuals from across the university spectrum on the same song sheet and playing the same music. I have been fortunate in the last three years to reshape a team of incredibly talented people here at Purdue. They’re driven by their mission to be chief storytellers who are not steered by random acts of marketing or demands of the campus, but instead to steward the precious and powerful Purdue University brand. You can’t invest enough in the power, composition, culture and skills of your team. It’s been something that the Board and leadership level has afforded us the chance to do over the last three years, and our product is testament to that.”
For Ethan the concept of team extended far beyond immediate marketing and communications colleagues, encompassing partners from across the wider university and third parties to harness their knowledge and expertise to create a cumulative approach that was representative and consistent.