At Up&Up, we believe that the best version of a brand, whether it’s for a college, a university or an individual, is a reflection of its authentic self. But what does being “authentic” really mean?
While we agree that the word “authentic” may feel like it is overused or lacking its original meaning in recent years, by definition it encapsulates what we challenge ourselves and those around us to be—genuine, bonafide, real.
To be your best version, your authentic self, self-awareness is key—the first step is defining your true passions, goals, and values. Finding what matters to you, and building your brand on that solid foundation is the easiest way to make sure it resonates with the right people in the right places.
Defining your values is not enough though—they need to shine through in your brand. It’s how those values permeate through community and culture. It’s your voice and tone—what you say and how you say it. It’s the feeling and emotion that you elicit. All of these things come together to create that authentic experience that people gravitate toward and remember you for.
To start down this path is a big undertaking. And when thinking about this in terms of colleges and universities it becomes even larger, especially when thinking about all the different stakeholders, constituent groups, audiences, and personalities involved. That’s the part that excites us because uncovering these stories—finding the common thread—is our favorite part. So much so that we’ve made it one of our core service offerings.
What this ends up looking like is a lot of interviews, meetings, phone calls, focus groups, surveys, research, audits, idea testing, and refinement, etc. What comes out of all this is a strategic path forward with both tactical and emotive approaches working in concert to tell your story, as well as a unified community marching to the beat of the same drum, feeling empowered and encouraged to act as stewards to the brand—just ask our friends at the Mount and Marian.
In the end, branding is about building connections, not to other brands, but to other people—other humans. These connections are built through shared values and experiences. From the outside, it’s not that someone identifies particularly well with a headline on your website or ad they saw somewhere. They see that you place value in the same things they do, and therefore, see your brand as being something they can latch on to.
As we embrace who we are, and own that identity, it will encourage others to do the same.