Purdue to make a difference with new brand 'Makers, All'

October 14, 2010

Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue's vice president for marketing and media, with a banner outside Armstrong Hall. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As part of its Homecoming celebration, Purdue is unveiling a new brand campaign, "Makers, All," that celebrates the University's proud Boilermaker traditions as well as its future promise.

"Makers, All" reflects on the athletic nickname the football team acquired in the late 1800s.

"The beauty of this strategy is that it is truly unique to Purdue. In the higher education sector, we see tremendous similarity in the advertising and messaging of various institutions. We know Purdue is special -- is different from other institutions. I am very proud this strategy sets us apart and that even its language, 'Makers, All,' is not replicable by any other institution," said Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue's vice president for marketing and media. "'Makers, All' embraces the university's strengths -- energy, optimism, enthusiasm, curiosity and reliability -- while staying grounded in the historic Boilermaker reputation. It is uncomplicated, powerful and real. It brings to life the university's persona as a visionary institution that serves as a catalyst for transformation."

The new brand strategy is grounded in research that is based on interviews, focus groups and surveys of more than 5,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, prospective students, corporate partners and state legislators.

"We also analyzed our competitors and benchmarked against them with an eye to finding that competitive messaging advantage, that sweet spot where we are 'better, different, special,'" Thompson said. "A good strategy must be grounded in truth, that is, an honest appraisal of its assets and liabilities, and in the voice of the customer. I can say with 100 percent certainty this brand strategy is built on that foundation."

Thompson said the process began with understanding what audiences think about the brand. This blend of quantitative and qualitative research provided the insight to build the brand strategy. The strategy helps bring to life key differentiators of Purdue: excellence in the STEM disciplines, experiential learning opportunities and the preparation students receive readying them to make a difference.

The first phase of the campaign will focus primarily on internal audiences -- students, faculty, staff and alumni -- who recognize Purdue as an academically strong institution and who, as advocates for the institution, serve as brand ambassadors to carry its messages of making a difference to the world.

"There are exciting things happening at Purdue," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "This strategy helps us unite as a university community in communicating our successes, our values and our reputation." 

To kick off the brand launch during Homecoming week, some temporary elements on campus include banners on the outside of Wetherill Hall, Loeb Playhouse, Elliott Hall of Music and Armstrong Hall. Three sculpture installations going up during the week will feature Purdue's accomplishments in space, earthquake research and the Online Writing Lab. Special messages also will be featured on the video board in Ross-Ade Stadium during Saturday's (Oct. 16) Homecoming football game.

"Our creative strategy uses disruptive and interactive marketing techniques to draw the audience in to conversations about the brand," said Rwitti Roy, senior director of brand and advertising in marketing and media. "This helps build excitement because the audience feels they have participated and have connected with the brand. The power of this campaign is that everyone can identify themselves in it."

The campaign is embracing new technology such as QR codes, mobile sites, texting and social media to engage the Purdue community and encourage interaction.

The QR, or quick response, codes can be found on banners and at the installations. The barcode-like graphics are readable by smart phones or mobile phones with a camera. Visitors scan the code with their phone to connect to a mobile site. Many smart phones have the necessary QR code reader built in, and free readers are available to download online. iPhone users can download a QR scanning application.

Audiences also will be encouraged to text during the Homecoming game in reaction to video board spots and to visit the microsite, http://www.purdue.edu/makers, which provides information about the brand as well as interactive forums.

The Purdue home page, http://www.purdue.edu, will be redesigned to reflect the new brand. Other mediums -- from print ads to billboards -- will be in place by the end of the year.

The tagline for the brand is "We are Purdue. Makers, All." No change will be made to the current Purdue signature. Thompson said.

Writer:  Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources:   France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                   Teri Lucie Thompson, 765-494-2082, tlthompson@purdue.edu