Marketing and Branding Plan

The Marketing and Branding Plan provides guidance regarding the direction of University marketing efforts. The initial plan, approved by Administrative Council April 7, 2014, is intended to address strategic goals, with tactical aspects to be determined by the advisory and other implementation groups. It is expected that the plan will evolve over time to incorporate ongoing marketing research, climate studies, recruitment goals and other factors.

The initial plan is the result of a comprehensive market research project approved by the Board of Governors, with Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods developing marketing recommendations based on research conducted by Penn Schoen Berland.


Implement integrated branding practices

  • For messaging, continue to emphasize use of strong visuals, less text and multimedia elements
  • Form Marketing and Communications Advisory Group
    • Would replace current Marketing Council
    • Presidential appointments to include university relations, student affairs, academic leadership, current students, alumni/alumni relations, athletics, outreach, diversity and inclusion and select marketing professionals
    • Provide counsel and advocate for University-wide branding efforts
    • Develop a branding creative brief that merges research findings, clarifies goals and objectives and provides foundation for creative efforts
    • Identify University-wide signature programs, with college input
  • Increase adoption of Web and social media as a communication tool
  • Continue adoption of mobile-responsive website practices
  • Lead all messaging with academic programs; follow with campus offerings and value talking points
  • Continue to utilize content marketing to reach target audiences
  • Enhance the spotlights system and utilization
    • Tell the story in a multimedia format that is short and delivered in a mobile-friendly format that is easily consumed and shared
    • Prioritize stories that demonstrate experience beyond the classroom or highlight programs where current students and new graduates have benefited from MSU’s leadership in a given field

Implement strategies that propagate the brand awareness and understanding

  • Grow the brand organically through social media presence
  • Continue to build the Missouri State brand through earned media
  • Ensure all produced materials (publications, audio, videos, websites, etc.) are branded with the look and messaging strategy

Focus on distinctive/signature academic programs as a key element of University marketing

  • Continue to feature recent alumni, top faculty and high-achieving students
    • Focus on alumni who have graduated within the past two years
  • Continue to promote significant/distinctive faculty and student research and expertise
    • Highlight undergraduate research opportunities and research that supports public affairs mission
  • Continue to enhance academic websites to use integrated branding practices
  • Focus on successful outcomes of our students
    • Career success
    • Job placement
    • Acceptance into post-graduate and professional programs
  • Position the University as one that offers distinctive, nationally recognized programs and avoid strategies that compete unfavorably with other in-state institutions

Promote school pride and campus life experiences

  • Highlight traditions
  • Show innovation taking place inside and outside the classroom
  • Show maroon and white pride that defines the culture and highlights what it means to be a Bear
    • Consider using Boomer the Bear when appropriate

Use paid media to market the University 

  • Continue using billboards to reach in-state market

Fiscal year 2015

Implement Integrated branding practices

  • Ensure marketing and communications reinforce the brand message
    • Consolidate authority, responsibility and accountability for marketing, paid media, communications and brand management within the vice president for marketing and communications
    • Align college branding with University messaging
  • Secure support from senior leadership
  • Minimize competing taglines used by colleges and departments to headlines or other message elements
  • Develop communication messaging that utilizes facts, statistics and points of reference and incorporates emotion, strong visuals, compelling, brief narratives and multimedia elements
  • Continue to lead all messaging with academic programs; follow with campus offerings and value talking points
  • Ensure messaging is culturally relevant and incorporates parental involvement as appropriate
  • Develop strategic integrated marketing/communication plans for recruitment, public affairs, diversity and inclusion, alumni relations, athletics, Missouri State Foundation and other key areas
  • Adopt assessment tools to help guide current and future marketing/communications initiatives and decisions
  • Develop an internal network of marketing/communication professionals for sharing best practices and providing support and information

Redefine and refresh the Follow Your Passion, Find Your Place brand

  • Continue interaction with the Marketing and Communications Advisory Group
  • Support the creative brief findings
  • Refresh the branding campaign and test with target audiences
  • Refine marketing campaigns to focus on priority messages
  • Expand Identity Standards to incorporate brand guidelines and core values
  • Enhance Marketing Toolkit with additional templates/formats, points of pride, refined talking points and content/media guidelines
  • Implement an internal brand awareness campaign
    • Share history of brand and provide supporting research
    • Encourage incorporation of brand into presentations, speeches and day-to-day communications
    • Incorporate professional development component, including requirements for all public-facing individuals
    • Consider a brand ambassador certification program
  • Update all materials to use refreshed brand

Support recruitment activities

  • Optimize event opportunities
    • Consider adding other recruitment events, especially African-American and Hispanic events
    • Consider expanding Showcase
    • Integrate social media, Welcome Center and other opportunities
  • Bolster the campus tour experience
    • Incorporate college points of pride
    • Explore adding social media
    • Consider adding interactive elements
    • Renew the virtual tour experience

Focus on distinctive/signature academic programs as a key element of University marketing

  • Provide facts, statistics and points of reference that position key programs as leaders in the regional and national playing field
    • Colleges collect and provide measurable data that can be used as supporting facts for any pride points
    • Expand the Career Center tracking system for improved utilization for campus marketing efforts

Promote school pride and campus life experiences

  • Expand and leverage student presence online, such as through student blogging, social media engagement and emerging platforms
  • Consider expanding culturally relevant campus offerings and promotion to the community and public

Use paid media to market the University

  • Develop a centralized paid media strategy that includes an approval procedure
    • Consider focusing in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and southwest Missouri
    • Determine final paid media budget and concentrate media buys to maximize reach and frequency to generate action or change perception
      • Minimal television buys are not effective or recommended
      • Large media market purchases must be robust for results-driven efforts; spot placement could be considered for awareness efforts
      • Avoid spot placement on local websites or apps
    • Allocate advertising money on radio, online and mobile
      • Synchronize buys with annual recruitment cycle to target timeframes when students/parents make decisions
      • Consider both traditional radio and Internet streaming opportunities
      • Utilize online ad networks to achieve geo-targeted placement and optimization based on search results and popular terms
      • Consider media placement focused on online and mobile pre-roll video accompanied with banner ads
      • Consider culturally-relevant messaging for diverse audiences, including Spanish-language variants
    • Outdoor
      • Optimize focus to undergraduate recruiting
      • Consider placement to connect with transfer student recruitment, especially near two-year colleges that partner with the University
  • Incorporate diversity research into paid media strategy
  • Research the top programs attracting students from St. Louis and Kansas City and develop targeted campaigns for those areas
  • Consider the following on mass media executions:
    • Recruitment campaigns should highlight current student success stories in the format previously described 
    • Students highlighted should have experience that can be shared in 30-second radio spots, print ads and online ads 
    • To extend the messaging, develop a website to expand each story
    • The website would provide links toward any relevant content within the main site and be an extension of mass communication efforts