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September 2020

  • Reach for the stars

    It’s easy to get caught up in the immediate tasks of running your unit – especially during a pandemic, when the day-to-day often feels like all we can manage. But with the “new normal” constantly in flux, it’s more important now than ever for your unit to be engaging with your audiences and reaching for […]
  • Unified

    I’m not a huge sports fan, but when the Oakland A’s go out onto the field, I’m pretty sure they all have the same embroidered A on their uniforms. It’s not just “similar” or roughly the same. They didn’t pick up the thread from different places. The third baseman doesn’t have particular font preferences. The […]
  • Using stories as powerful marketing tools

    There’s a lot of talk about “story” when it comes to marketing. Just Google it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. But using stories as part of a marketing strategy is more than a trend.  Stories are important because they allow us to connect with our audiences in ways that spark emotion. Anyone who […]
  • Coming soon: U of I branded Wordpress themes in P.I.E. and cPanel

    One of my favorite things about our brand design is its focus. It concentrates on the fundamental aspects of the brand – things like color, typography, iconography – and trusts its users to build upon that foundation. As a result, we get consistency where it’s important, while leaving plenty of room for people and organizations […]
  • Greater than zero

    “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Remember that old line we heard a hundred times as a kid? Whatever happened to it? My theory is that it’s been replaced with fear. Fear that the idea – or, in this case, the ad – isn’t good enough, and if it isn’t a perfect […]
  • Pairing our brand fonts to create contrast and emphasis

    There are many pros to having a flexible brand with five typefaces to choose from – especially if you’re a trained designer. For others, it might be intimidating to know which typefaces to use when and where, and how they can best work together. I’ll provide some basic guidelines in this post. Before I get […]
  • The low-down on low-angle hero shots

    The “hero shot” is an important element of our visual identity, in part because it makes for emotionally powerful photography. The photo style also illustrates a core element of the new U of I brand: seeing the students as the heroes of their stories and the university as their guide. In this post I’ll explain […]
  • How to apply "features vs. benefits" to marketing higher ed

    Once upon a time I was a young copywriter at a design and branding firm, where I was learning much about the trade on the job. “Show, don’t tell” was, of course, one of the first valuable lessons I absorbed, but it was the “features vs. benefits” rule of thumb that really transformed my understanding […]