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Discovering DU

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Renea Morris

Renea Morris

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Internal  •

As early as last month with the Sturm College of Law, new and returning students have arrived on campus and DU is already considering how to adjust its fall recruitment strategy for next year’s class. Virtual visits will replace most on-campus activities and travel plans in the midst of the ongoing concern and uncertainty brought on by Covid-19.

All summer, MarComm has been working in partnership with Carnegie Dartlet and the DU community on a comprehensive research project to implement a new reputation strategy and communication platform to help recruit our fall 2021 class and beyond. Here’s what has been completed to date:

Discovery interviews

To commence the project, a series of eight executive discovery interviews were conducted. There were five key insights from those interviews, which provided thematic insights, valuable history, and context:

  1. The University of Denver is an institution in transition, continually striving to do and be better. The University has done much to improve inclusivity in recent years but needs to do more and change the experience for students of color.
  2. DU faces significant awareness and reputational challenges outside Denver and the state of Colorado. The current effort with Carnegie Dartlet is a critical step towards enabling MarComm to lead the unification and strengthening of DU’s voice.
  3. The University of Denver is a siloed campus craving a unified story. Tearing down silos was a common priority as many schools and programs have been telling different stories. These various narratives have created market confusion and hurt overall awareness and reputation.
  4. The University of Denver has a true connection to its community and commitment to serving the public good. There is a feeling that this commitment is distinct and should be woven into the core messaging that represents the University through strong storytelling of how DU is impacting the world.
  5. DU has a distinct value proposition, which has not been consistently leveraged in the past. DU is a unique institution in that it is a mid-sized private University with an almost even number of undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty who are renowned international thought leaders who are driven by teaching as well as research. Successful NCAA Division 1 athletic programs in hockey, gymnastics, and soccer, among others, also put the University in rare space, and the location in a major city with close proximity to the mountains is truly distinct. Many expressed that these things have not been leveraged enough in marketing. The 4D concept was cited by many as something with strong potential to differentiate DU from other universities.

The discovery interviews, as well as an extensive review of existing DU positioning, market research, and reports were used to inform the project approach, personality research, and future marketing planning.

Look for future blog posts to share some of the research findings from the personality research, external perception research, and competitive audit.