November 19, 2020

Celebrating Purdue again, and again, and again, marketing team earns top higher ed honor

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In April 2020, Purdue University Marketing and Communications took its newly launched brand and applied it to a vast new and vital initiative — Protect Purdue — aligning students, faculty and staff across the West Lafayette campus in planning for and helping implement the return to on-campus instruction for the fall semester.

The persistent pursuit of telling and staying true to the Purdue story, amid what could have been a chaotic and brand-busting year, helped attract Purdue’s largest freshman class in its history and has earned Purdue’s Marketing and Communications team the American Marketing Association Foundation’s Higher Education Marketing Team of the Year award.

Announced and presented during the AMA’s annual conference, this year held virtually, on Thursday (Nov. 19), the award completed a sweep of top AMA honors for Purdue. R. Ethan Braden, senior vice president of marketing and communications, also was named the 2020 Higher Education Marketer of the Year by the AMA.

The team was honored for its work in creating and living its evolved brand platform, known as The Persistent Pursuit of the Next Giant Leap, focusing on consistent and compelling messaging and storytelling with a sharper focus on digital engagement and external understanding. After a year of research and feedback, Purdue launched the new brand in January 2020, based on a unique and unifying essence of Persistent Innovation Together, and including a visual identity that, for the first time, aligns the entire campus in look and feel, including Purdue Athletics.

“This is a great honor for our team, the campus marketing community and our partners, recognizing all of the hard work that has happened during this unprecedented year – from the new brand launch in January to the rapid development of the Protect Purdue Plan,” Braden said. “I am continually thankful for the support of the board (of trustees) and President Daniels and impressed by our team’s persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, accepting every challenge with optimism, high standards and care (Braden discusses the honor).”

Shortly after the January brand launch, Marketing and Communications was called on to help address student, staff, faculty and community safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Marketing and Communications was able to pivot quickly, anchoring in the brand to assemble and communicate the Protect Purdue Plan with various deliverables and outreach items for the campus community to use. The vast efforts included, among other things, direct contact with students and their families, social media, traditional media and the building of the comprehensive Protect Purdue website, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times this year and continues to be updated daily with the newest information. Under Braden’s direction, Purdue Marketing and Communications developed the Protect Purdue Ambassador program, made up of 200-plus Purdue students, to provide peer encouragement and align the entire student body with the Protect Purdue Pledge.

 “We had three goals over the past two years for Purdue Marketing and Communications: to cultivate, excite and unite a world-class marketing community; to passionately position, promote and preserve the Purdue brand worldwide; and build affinity, demand for and loyalty to Purdue with external audiences,” Braden said. “When done right, central marketing should make intentional and material contributions to the realization of an institution’s goals, driving an atmosphere of innovation and collaboration to help other areas do the same.”

Purdue’s central marketing office has about 65 professionals in brand strategy, digital marketing, creative services, strategic communications and media relations, part of a campus marketing and communications community of more than 300 individuals.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer, Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell),, @mo_oates

Source: Ethan Braden, 

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Related release: Purdue Marketing senior VP is AMA’s Higher Ed Marketer of the Year 

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