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Renea Morris

Renea Morris

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Late last fall, I developed a four-part series to talk about MarComm’s realigned strategy and our renewed focus on what I call the University’s value drivers—academics and research, advancement, athletics, and admission. I introduced my intent to hire a new position—one to serve as connective tissue to ensure we aligned across all our priorities and strategically positioned the institution for success.

For several months, Johanna Blickenstaff has been leading a consensus-driven approach to refine and refocus DU’s brand. As the interim senior director for marketing and brand management and senior director of strategic positioning, she is leading this multi-year project to impact the University’s reputation, recruitment, and, ultimately, revenue while simultaneously building partnerships with our colleagues across campus to move this work forward.

The project phases began with research, which enabled us to incorporate the feedback from 1,600+ individuals in the DU community—staff, faculty, alumni, parents, and students—and discover our core personality as well as student personas to aid recruitment. Additionally, we gained insight into DU’s brand positioning and perception in the market along with details on how the brand stands up against competitors.

Two of the most visible parts of phase 2 of the project, to support DU’s introduction to the market, are an ad campaign and retooling of our visual identity. The ad campaign, which will launch in the coming weeks, is focused on helping to ensure a sustainable future for DU by:

  1. Increasing top-of-mind awareness and perception of DU’s unique value propositions and relevance
  2. Building audience affinity and preference for DU
  3. Enhancing DU’s top-of-the-funnel pipeline for new leads, to win more conversions and ambassadors

Alongside this work is an effort to update and enhance our visual identity—an effort that will include a review of our creative assets and existing brand marks to determine what’s working well, what isn’t working optimally, and explore a wish list of possibilities.

To achieve this, MarComm has been working intentionally to build and renew partnerships with each other and around the University by enhancing transparency and creating a sense of community. Working in tandem with marketing and communication professionals across campus, several work groups have formed to inform and implement the work. In addition to moving the various elements of the project forward, here’s what I’m hoping to see as some of the intangibles from our work together:

  1. MarComm and units on campus are more closely connected during processes because of more dialogue upfront and throughout the year
  2. We find more efficiencies in our work because we’ve identified gaps and coordinated to resolve them
  3. Collaboration has increased, our capacity overall has expanded, and consistency in messaging and expectations are improved to improve the experience for our audiences

As we work better together, we will identify our pain points as well as our similarities and differences so that we can figure out how to best leverage all our strengths to benefit our students, alumni, colleagues, and university. Fundamentally, the best ideas come when a variety of perspectives and experiences come together. Whether we’ve already worked together or our partnership has yet to form, I want to thank you—both now and in the future—for your collaboration, communication, and sharing yourself with the team.