A Top 10 list for 2020

With the winter holidays right around the corner, this is the perfect time to reflect on the best parts of the past year, in spite of the challenges we've all faced. At UIUC we've had much to celebrate as a campus community. On a unit level, here are the top 10 things we're celebrating in the Office of Strategic Marketing and Branding:

1. New brand guidelines

In July we rolled out our new brand guidelines, providing a rallying cry for the university while promoting brand consistency across campus in areas like the use of the block I logo, colors, fonts and brand messaging. It's time for the U of I to leave our rivals in the dust!

2. A new office

Located in the center of Campustown on Sixth Street near Green, our new office space is easily accessible by campus communicators. When we're all back to working on campus, our space will be a hub for idea-generation, strategic alignment and workshops.

3. Creation of an on-brand WordPress theme

We partnered with Tech Services and others across campus to create a free, easy-to-use, WordPress theme available in P.I.E. With this tool, anyone across campus with information to share can easily create a basic, on-brand website.

4. Media planning and buying

With our media buying service, campus units with any advertising budget now have access to this great marketing tool, allowing them to reach more people with targeted ads. (Matt Wszolek heads up that effort and can answer your questions.)

5. Partnership with Champaign and Urbana

As the university worked closely with local municipal governments to slow the spread of COVID, the cities asked us to create COVID-related banners that are displayed on Green Street and other streets surrounding campus.

6. New media campaigns

As we created university advertising campaigns in 2020, we leveraged the Power of I message and amplified the accomplishments of faculty, students, staff and alumni to reach a range of key audiences – from prospective students and alumni to corporations, government officials and foundations.

7. A new blog

Launching a Strategic Marketing & Branding blog in July has provided another way for us to support campus communications and marketing professionals on a weekly basis with tips, examples and more.

8. Marketing research

To support data-driven decisions and to help establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help manage project success, we established a marketing research program on campus. (Reach out to Jeff Sylvester to learn more.)

9. O'Hare monument

By installing a large, block-I monument at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in February, we're able to welcome travelers to and from Illinois while sending the message, "You're in Illini Country!"

10. Building the SMB team

Four members of our 12-person team joined us in 2020, making us a well-rounded collection of experts in media, messaging, strategy, research, graphic design and cinematography. Over the past year, we've enjoyed assisting units across campus to help them reach their marketing goals, as we all work together toward a strong, unified university brand that is known throughout the world.

Working with all of you has been the best part of 2020, and we look forward to collaborating and serving you more in 2021. Happy holidays!