Integration. Consistency. Common message. Brand Guidelines. Rules. Standard Design Elements. Control! WHY??
The last ten years we have seen an amazing shift in how people obtain information. Communication channels have moved beyond traditional media such as television ads, billboards and brochures. The marketing and communications landscape gets more complex every day with online channels popping up too fast for us to keep up. Who would have thought that when I was being laughed at for getting a Twitter account four years ago that today it would be a mainstream channel for communication? With so many ways for our audiences to get information from us we have a bigger need than ever to be consistent across all channels.
This concept, consistency, is complex in itself when you look at all the ways to communicate. Being in an institution of higher education adds even more complexity. A university is a very complex organization with many colleges, units, and departments and programs all reaching out to different audiences (or the same audiences in many cases). This makes integration even more critical. This makes consistency even more critical. Every communication that goes out, whether it is in print or online, has an opportunity to either leverage the brand or fragment it. While every area on campus has individual unit goals it is also is a part of the bigger whole – the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The University mission and unit goals complement each other therefore making integration easier and more powerful. For example, we have a brand promise for each of our main constituencies. All of the promises can be found here: http://www.uwosh.edu/imc/brand-guidelines/brand-platform/brand-promise
Our promise to our students
UW Oshkosh provides a hands-on, collaborative academic experience, promoting discovery in an environment that celebrates inclusive excellence, fuels imagination, and champions critical thinking and opportunity.
The Mathematics department could build this messaging into a student recruitment brochure while using a look that is consistent with the University brand guidelines. The brochure would build on the University brand while accomplishing their goal to recruit students. The prospective student will likely see that brochure as well as the Mathematics website, the University website, the Admissions website and any other materials or communications from the Admissions office, all providing a cohesive experience. In this same scenario, if the brochure did not use consistent messaging and did now follow brand guidelines the prospective student would then feel the fragmentation. Consciously or subconsciously the prospective student will sense the break in consistency, which then impacts the impression they get of UW Oshkosh.
The level of integration we have on this campus has taken over five years to accomplish and continues to grow every day. It’s a commitment and a challenge to maintain but UW Oshkosh has become a model of how to accomplish IMC within Higher Education due to the excellent collaboration and support on this campus.