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Empowering DU’s brand owners

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Renea Morris

Renea Morris

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Internal  •
people on a Zoom call screen

Hopefully by now, many of you are aware that we are engaging in a consensus-based, multi-year, multi-phase project to refine and refocus DU’s brand to impact reputation, recruitment, and ultimately, revenue. We’ve completed Phase I, which was rooted in broad market research, to ground our work. In addition to an overall brand assessment, this foundational work led to the development of DU’s personality traits, insight from a competitive analysis, and targeted messages for undergraduate recruiting. More than 1,600 DU voices—students, faculty, staff, and alumni—helped to inform this work. To help ensure the brand refresh and subsequent rollout continue to be consensus-based, we are convening several focus groups to continue informing our work.

Focus groups identify thoughts and feelings

We’ve seen the benefit of using surveys in this work. A focus group, a form of qualitative research, is designed to do what a questionnaire cannot do, which is identify feelings, thoughts, and perceptions through discussion.

Some of the key characteristics of successful focus groups:

  • Participants contribute equally
  • Participants feel comfortable to interact openly
  • The moderator’s questions help maintain rather than control the flow of the exchange

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we are each owners of DU’s brand. As we each step into this mindset, we will be able to reflect on its effect on all our audiences and amplify it to reach new audiences in the future. Phase II focuses on setting the foundation for our initial introduction of DU’s brand externally. Focus group sessions with groups of brand owners (employees, current students, and alumni) will allow us to continue building a brand that is representative of all that makes DU special, while making progress in a timely manner.

Organizational strength comes from collaboration

As an example, one of the focus groups that has been convened is what we are internally referring to as the “DU Insiders.” Made up of a diverse group of DU employees and community members, this small group of staff and faculty representatives will have opportunities to collaborate while receiving “first looks” of our new brand strategy. They will provide valuable input, help us ensure our new brand direction and creative content will resonate with employees across campus by being involved in the development of DU’s brand, and ultimately champion awareness and engagement university wide.

I’m excited about the opportunities to engage this group and our other focus groups, receive real-time feedback, and hear about the lived experiences that make up the DU brand. These collaborative focus group experiences will make us stronger. By humanizing all our efforts, we will be able to help ensure that the expressions of DU’s brand—whether through words or pictures—are consistent, clear, and, most importantly, authentically DU.