Brand strategy

Brand foundation

The University of Illinois has one brand which represents all university enterprises – undergraduate and graduate education, online education, research and innovation programs, community engagement and advancement programs, government relations, and athletics.

Because academic units all belong to one primary unit, they don’t have an independent brand or identity. For example, the department of Bioengineering is not separate from the Grainger College of Engineering. Departments “brand up” to their primary unit. This frees up units to focus on marketing their specific programs to their respective audiences – something only they can do best – while ensuring the consistency of the singular University of Illinois brand.

Branding is very much tied to the art of positioning – defining how we’re different from our outside competitors, not how we’re different from the other units here at the university.

Our position is not marketing copy. It’s an internal-facing statement meant to remind us where we are situated in the marketplace, and to guide us in making decisions about how we serve our audiences.

Positioning statement

For people who are smart, accomplished, and aim to excel, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the land-grant public research university that enhances your power because it delivers excellence at scale which improves and impacts the lives of many; it educates leaders and innovators who influence society; and it resonates for generations.


Brand pillars are an internal articulation of the university’s DNA. They represent what data shows we are already known for and should continue to emphasize.


Our ever-evolving approach to our students’ learning experience encourages progressive, creative, and cutting-edge thought in our students, faculty and staff alike.

Tailored experience

We offer students a tailored educational experience, because we believe that focusing on the individualized journey of each student is the catalyst to a transforming and shaping our students’ lives.


For over 150 years, we have been challenging the traditional, leading to 23 Nobel Laureates, 26 Pulitzer Prize winners, and hundreds of world-changing achievements, innovations and discoveries.



With an emboldened spirit and an air of confidence, we’re eager to share our academic prowess, leaving behind the boring and traditional. Although we conduct ourselves as leaders, we humbly value collaboration over competition in the spirit of global improvement and progress.

Full of Integrity

We take pride in our honest and trustworthy character and are committed and reliable. We value diversity, creativity, impactful learning, new and different perspectives, and the transformation of our students and the world.


With students from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and a history of accessibility, U of I is an understanding and flexible environment that values each student’s complex, and not always linear, journey over institutionalized monotony.

The brand essence wheel

This visual demonstrates how various aspects of the brand strategy relate to one another, creating a brand ecosystem or essence that ultimately impacts our audiences. (Read about the brand powers and our audiences.)