What is Brand?

A brand is not a logo, tagline, colors, TV commercials, or websites.

A brand is perception. More specifically, it’s the sum total of people’s perceptions and experiences—what they think, feel, and respond to when they interact with an organization. And branding is the intentional process of shaping that perception.

The value of brand

A strong brand is the most valuable intangible asset any organization owns. A strong brand:

  • Communicates clearly what the organization stands for
  • Is credible, reflecting reality and aspirations
  • Connects emotionally with its audiences
  • Motivates the target audience to take action
  • Creates loyalty
  • Makes it possible to charge a higher price for the same product

Universities need brands

Universities are more alike than different. All large land-grant universities do much the same thing—teaching, research, and outreach. Branding helps distinguish MSU and makes it memorable.

Like MSU, the university's brand has enormous influence. By building a stronger brand, we continue to positively shape the way people think and feel about MSU, ultimately influencing:

  • Student recruitment and enrollment
  • Faculty recruitment
  • Alumni participation
  • Fundraising
  • Word of mouth and social engagement
  • Partnerships

Why brand guidelines?

Great brands build strong bonds with their audiences by being consistent. They are instantly recognizable and immediately stand for something. They speak a common language, despite the fact that they may speak to different people. This consistency builds trust between MSU and its audiences.

The primary purpose of articulating a clear brand strategy is to provide the entire university community with a unified platform from which to promote MSU and its components. Following MSU’s brand guidelines ensures that the look and feel of Michigan State University stays consistent in whatever manner it goes out to meet the wider world—from newsletters and websites to videos and social media.

Aligning with the brand enables individual MSU colleges, departments, and units to leverage MSU’s considerable brand equity—the full quality, strength, and credibility of Michigan State. Working across the university to pursue branding in a disciplined way enables MSU as a whole and every university unit to achieve greater impact and reputational lift with a lower investment of resources.

The greatest successes at Michigan State always have been the result of Spartans coming together and working together to effect great change and make a difference. Building and strengthening the MSU brand is no different.

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