DePaul University

Defined Strengths × Strategic Design = Seeing the World Differently

A highly respected educational institution, DePaul University has had a solid grasp on its brand since first conducting brand research in 2003. In 2011 DePaul’s Division of Enrollment Management and Marketing challenged us to extend its brand communication to prospective graduate-level students.

Acquiring an Education

In order to get our arms around the challenge and identify unique story-telling opportunities, we began our process by reviewing and synthesizing results of the university’s own research—insights gained through qualitative interviews, focus groups and comprehensive quantitative surveys among students, parents, alumni, employers, government and civic leaders.

What emerged from the data? A clear set of consistent strengths attributed to DePaul and areas of focus that ultimately became part of the university’s modified brand equities:

  • DePaul faculty’s wealth of real-­world experience
  • Its emphasis on high-­quality teaching
  • Its infusion of global and multicultural perspectives into its curriculum
  • Its focus on a balanced education both in and out of the classroom

It was also clear that students who choose DePaul embody similar mindsets and desires:

  • To seek opportunities to expand their worldview
  • To develop the ability to see beyond the obvious
  • To gain a broader foundation from which to think, solve, lead and live

With a solid foundation on which to build and a mandate to move beyond the pure recruitment focus of the university’s previous ‘Become’ campaign—to connect not only with prospective graduate and adult students but with the community, government and corporate leaders who help shape the university’s public perception—we worked closely with DePaul’s marketing communications director and her key team members to frame up the objectives for a new branding initiative:

  • Build and reinforce the updated DePaul brand
  • Increase DePaul’s visibility
  • Improve its position among key audiences
  • Elevate its overall image of academic quality


Articulation and Execution

Focusing on the practical benefits of DePaul’s unique set of attributes and the mindsets and desires of its students to learn and think broadly, we established a brand strategy centered on their new aspirational brand awareness advertising campaign: ‘Greater Perspective,’ then worked to translate it into a thematic umbrella—carefully differentiated but closely related messaging variations that would be effective across the spectrum of awareness and recruiting (lead conversion) efforts.

That thematic umbrella—See the World Differently—expressed through a unified, distinctive and authentic aesthetic and applied across the spectrum of graduate college recruitment and awareness communications, from advertising and viewbooks to event promotions, email campaigns, roadpieces and admitted student packages, provides a flexible communication platform that allows for audience-specific messaging.

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An authentic, benefit-oriented, integrated campaign that builds on DePaul’s existing brand and seamlessly bridges the gap between public awareness and student-specific ‘point of purchase’ communications.

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DePaul University

This visualization illustrates the full extent of our engagement with this particular client, broken down by the percentage of specific capabilities we provided during the relationship.

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  • General
  • Individual
  1. I Understanding / strategy
    1. A Research
    2. B Data visualization
    3. C Brand strategy
  2. II Conceptualization / articulation
    1. D Naming / nomenclature
    2. E Positioning / message development
    3. F Copywriting / content development
  3. III Communication design / execution
    1. G Corporate identity
    2. H Video / motion graphics
    3. I Web design / development
    4. J Physical spaces
    5. K Collateral / publications
    6. L Events / experiences
    7. M Digital media / marketing
    8. N Social media
    9. O Packaging
  4. IV Measurement / consulting
    1. P Search engine marketing
    2. Q Creative consultation
    3. R Innovation workshops