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Update on strategic positioning for February 2022 | SMCC, Trio, logo, infrastructure + more

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Renea Morris

Renea Morris

News  •
Internal  •

As we saw the New Year gave way to a new month, MarComm began picking up the pace of our communications cadence. Over the course of the year, we plan to share the progress and the speedbumps that necessitate recalculations along our path. As you know, unpredictable things happening is inevitable, and as we move towards agile marketing and communications, adjusting is just a part of what we do. Recalculations don’t change the destination. They simply give us new tools and ways to get there. This week, we’ll start by sharing a look back at January.

“Trio” Initiative

Over the past few months, we focused our energy on knitting together activities tied to the 4D Experience and the Kennedy Mountain Campus with the For the Difference marketing campaign to further reach prospective undergraduate students, community members and thought leaders as we continue our pursuit to establish the DU brand that holds value nationally. In January alone, we launched a new University homepage, a new website for the Kennedy Mountain Campus with new video resources and a refreshed website highlighting the 4D Experience. Trio, plus our new R1 status messaging, was woven into core pieces of our website, the University of Denver Winter Magazine and advertisements. In addition, we’ve established some early pieces of the planned editorial style guide refresh and have been working closely with our trademark partners.

Reputation Strategy

Visual Identity

Not all recalculations result in a change of timeline; some are simply a shift in route. Last month I shared news of a recalculation on the visual identity front when I shared that we added an additional step into our logo development work and that we’d be further adapting our route to a new logo as a result. In January, we began work in partnership with agency HeavyDoesIt to develop an additional suite of logos for consideration. The second set of concepts were developed in January, and we look forward to sharing them with representatives from our brand owner groups for insights this month. We anticipate a new logo for DU in April with roll-out to follow according to the Reputation Strategy timelines.

With the logo timeline solidified, we are renewing our efforts on the rest of the visual identity system—most notably an operational assessment report to provide insights on roll-out timeline, needs and the development of the remainder of our revitalized visual style guide. The team is actively working to hone our photo and video styles in alignment with our personality traits. We are also working to develop a new grid system to provide both flexibility and consistency in the future for everyone.

For the Difference

In addition to Trio and visual identity recalibrations, January also brought about the first phase of the For the Difference Thought Leader campaign. This was formerly known as the USNWR campaign. DU hosted its second annual STAT Conference on Jan. 26, bringing leaders in to speak about the impacts of COVID on mental health, living in 2022 and what a shift from pandemic to endemic status might mean. A robust marketing plan for the event was led out of our unit, resulting in close to 500 registrations and thousands of views online. We continue to drive traffic to the website for those that missed the event and final stats will be shared later in the spring. Miss the event, and curious about the content? Below are some links to a few of the post-event materials created by the team: 



We recently completed a second search for a marketing manager after the first fell through. Thank you to Jessica Kibble, Irene Weygandt, Andrew Thomas, Juan Niño, Shira Good, Evan Cotgageorge, Victoria O’Malley, Afton Kortz, Natalie Plaszewski, Erika Guilbault and Johanna Blickenstaff for their work on bringing this critical position to fruition. We’ll be sharing more about our new marketing manager in our next update following her arrival on Feb. 21! We’re now shifting our energy to the following positions—a digital designer (refill), admin assistant (new role) and marketing analytics specialist (refill). Each of these roles will play a critical part in supporting campus initiatives and the fall brand roll-out.


Many of you have participated in recent focus groups for our event and email marketing tool selection—a partnership with IT and Event & Conference Services. An anticipated three-year project, the technology we identify collectively, paired with the work anticipated from the newly activated Strategic Marketing & Communications Council work groups, will help us resolve many outstanding challenges and move DU forward. A similar process and project was attempted once before, and unfortunately, did not have a lasting impact due to misalignment between DU’s needs and the system’s true abilities. I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to bring this work forward once more, as our people, systems and needs continue to evolve, to select a product that can best support our collective efforts. Thank you for your time now and in the past. It’s valuable, and we’re looking forward to your insight.

Problem Solving

In January, the Strategic Marketing & Communications Council (SMCC) was activated—a follow-up and expansion to the COVID-driven Marketing Efforts Working Group (MEWG). In addition to the overarching council, six unique work groups were established to tackle the problems and opportunities identified by the MEWG. These groups include:

  • Advertising & Media Placement
  • Lead Generation
  • MarComm Tools
  • Preferred MarComm Vendors
  • Social Media
  • Web

In closing, I want to give a shout-out to the MarComm team and to you, our partners. It takes incredibly talented individuals working together to be able to adapt repeatedly in a short period of time and to maintain the caliber of the work, the focus on the destination and the agility of the plans to keep advancing. We are moving mountains in the form of resetting foundations, building relationships and creating a distinct brand to solve situations that were established way before our time. Thankfully, we’re not moving them alone. I appreciate your patience, partnership, tenacity and support. As always, please feel free to reach out to me, Johanna Blickenstaff ( or Shira Good ( with any questions you might have regarding our marketing, communications and strategic positioning efforts.