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OHIO to roll out new branding campaign

‘It’s you’ captures essence of University, developed for and by OHIO community

"When you get it right, you just know."

That's how Renea Morris, executive director of Ohio University Communications and Marketing (UCM), describes not only the outcome but also the process UCM spearheaded in developing the University's new branding campaign, which will be launched in the coming weeks.

A culmination of more than three years of quantitative studies, working sessions with University stakeholders, and support from alums working at agencies, the core theme of the branding campaign is "it's you." The concept reflects the idea that OHIO is the place that fits what you want to do – and who you want to be. Ohio University is where you can be yourself and become your best self.

It's a concept that applies to all members of the Ohio University community – from students and prospective students, to faculty and staff, to the nearly 200,000 OHIO alumni throughout the world. And it's a concept that was developed for and by members of the OHIO family.

After five successful years of The Promise branding campaign, the comprehensive process used to develop the "it's you" brand incorporated research involving prospective students, focus groups with constituents on campus, small group workshops and the development of creative concepts by a team of talented and dedicated professionals at UCM. The process also included the formation of a Marketing Advisory Council and the creation of a website designed to keep various University stakeholders abreast of developments and to provide an outlet for feedback as concepts were explored.

What emerged from all the research and discussion was an authentic view on what Ohio University is and what the OHIO experience is all about. 

Simply put: "It's you."

"Throughout the process, we kept hearing the same thing over and over – from current students, from prospective students, from alumni," Morris said. "Ohio University shapes me into the person I want to be. Here you're not just one of thousands of students. You are an important person. It seems like no matter who I want to be, I can fit in here."

A UCM team tasked with developing creative concepts for the branding initiative pulled together interviews with 30 OHIO students who talked about their OHIO experiences. After transcribing those interviews and studying them, four themes that capture the essence of Ohio University emerged:

  • Love at First Sight
  • Home Away from Home
  • Supportive Professors
  • Bobcat Pride

Last August, after years of strategic planning, research and analysis of feedback from the University community, a core message became clear – "Ohio University: 'it's you.'"

"This is a real, authentic view of what Ohio University is, coming directly from the University," Morris said. "It's how we articulate who were are, and it's an unscripted message."

Once that core branding theme was developed, UCM began collaborating with various OHIO constituents to develop ways to market the new brand.

Pole banners and other marketing materials were created by members of UCM's Creative Services Team to be displayed in visitor-rich areas throughout campus. Rebranded promotional materials for Undergraduate Admissions were developed, and a new microsite featuring 10 students sharing their OHIO experiences was launched at www.ohio.edu/you.

In the coming weeks, TV viewers and radio listeners in several major media markets can expect to see and hear all about the new campaign. Television, radio and multimedia appearances are beginning in the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Pittsburgh markets. Starting Sept. 1, television commercials will begin airing during football broadcasts on ESPN, and 15-second spots will be streamed on Pandora beginning Sept. 23.

"There is Bobcat involvement woven throughout the details of this campaign," Morris noted. "We were thrilled to collaborate with 45 students and a dozen alumni who came from as far away as Los Angeles to contribute their professional experience. Even the typefaces used for 'it's you' and the composition of the music in the TV commercials were created by recent graduates."

And the collaboration doesn't stop there. In the coming weeks, the entire OHIO community will be invited to be a part of an event where the "it's you" commercials will be premiered.

"I believe that this is a brand campaign that reflects what OHIO is all about; one in which we can all take pride," Morris said. "In short, this is a campaign created to capitalize on all the great aspects of Ohio University – to help us move from being higher education's best-kept secret to becoming a top choice for outstanding students in the state and beyond."