Published: March 1, 2011 By

bruce benson

The magazine you are reading is an important arrow in the quiver of how we communicate with you. The Coloradan reaches 215,000 CU-Boulder alumni, faculty, staff and donors, and your feedback tells us you appreciate and enjoy it. The external feedback echoes that. In January the magazine received a first-place regional award in communications from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

While the Coloradan is an important communication vehicle, it is not the only one. CU connects with you and other key constituents in hundreds of ways, from electronic newsletters to brochures. Unfortunately, we have not been coordinated or consistent in our visual identity and messaging.

To remedy the situation, we undertook a branding project. We engaged a wide swath of our constituents, including alumni, in a thorough, thoughtful process. It was aimed at presenting CU through messages and visual images in coordinated, consistent ways to effectively convey how the collective strength of the university — and all its campuses — advances the economy, health and culture of Colorado and the nation. We began rollout of the new branding late in January.

Media reports on the project, as is often the case, took a superficial look at a complex issue, focusing only on the cost of the project — funded by earnings on CU investments; no tuition, state funding or donations were diverted — and logos. Branding is much more than logos. It is the emotional feeling our constituents have about the university resulting from their collective perceptions and interactions with us. We shape that feeling in part by how we present ourselves. Doing so in fragmented and muddled ways obviously hurts us. Presenting CU in consistent, coordinated ways will help us overcome the information overload that is part and parcel of modern life.

The project cost is an investment in the university’s future that will help us address the very real cost (both direct and indirect) of the considerable confusion caused by the hundreds of different and sometimes competing CU logos and messages.

Branding will help us convey our strengths in our primary areas of excellence and impact: learning and teaching; discovery and innovation; health and wellness; and community and culture. It will also be critical to the success of our fundraising efforts.

As we aim to engage you and our friends in efficient and effective ways, we can be confident that branding builds a foundation to communicate the strengths and value of our great university.