Today, Virginia Tech enjoys a solid reputation as a comprehensive, land-grant institution and is a dominant brand recognized across the commonwealth and throughout the mid-Atlantic. Nonetheless, the university is working hard to solidify its brand in the minds of the public. On Feb. 2, President Charles W. Steger unveiled a new branding campaign that speaks to the spirit and direction of the university as captured in the campaign's new tagline: "Virginia Tech: Invent the Future."
Shaping the future
The branding campaign is intended to give voice and clarity to the university's strategic directions. Fundamentally, a brand effort is about message. Virginia Tech, for example, is a large, diverse, land-grant research university with a strong commitment to undergraduate education--a description that is both accurate and complicated.
Each day, we strive to portray the world-class excellence of Virginia Tech's faculty, who not only stimulate the minds of students, but also are scholars and researchers on a quest of discovery. We offer our bright and motivated students intellectual challenges. We promote our dynamic and infectious spirit of innovation--simply look at our Blacksburg Electronic Village, which was launched before "Internet" became part of the common vernacular, or at Tech's System X, the world's fastest supercomputer built with off-the-shelf desktop units. We laud our alumni, who make a difference around the world in ways both great and small. And we remain proud of the underlying soul of the land-grant college movement, which compels us to remain engaged with our communities, our professions, our industries, and our governments by helping solve the problems of our day.
In a nutshell, telling the story of Virginia's leading research university can be challenging. Still, each facet of the Virginia Tech experience is expressed by the new tagline--in their own way, the university's scholars, students, innovations, and outreach efforts are all inventing the future.
The multifaceted elements of the new branding campaign include an updated and refreshed Virginia Tech logo and tagline and applications in print, radio, and television advertising and on the Virginia Tech website homepage. A focal point of the campaign is the new Funds for the Future financial aid program for students. A tangible underpinning to the branding campaign, the program will enable moderate- to low-income families to send their students to Virginia Tech. The Funds for the Future program will include up to $14.5 million in financial aid by the 2011-12 academic year. Also announced was the Invent the Future Essay Scholarship contest, which will award five prospective 2006 freshmen applicants $1,000 scholarships.
Another highlight of the recent branding efforts is the introduction of podcasting, or downloadable audio programming. Already in use in classroom applications for Virginia Tech's executive M.B.A. program, the new podcasting programming is among the most extensive offered by any university and provides an array of choices for the entire Tech community. One unique option is "HokieCast," which is produced for students by students, featuring news and events around the Blacksburg campus. Other available podcasts include the weekly "VT PodNews," "A Touch of Tech," and the popular "Distinguished Professor Series." In less than a month after Tech's podcasts were introduced, more than 10,000 visitors had downloaded more than 2,000 podcasts to their PCs or MP3 players.
Have questions? We've got answers.
Is this campaign just about creating new logos and taglines?
We have updated the Virginia Tech logo to help us standardize our visual identity and to work better in electronic communications, especially on the university's websites. Now the official logo is:
What about the "VT"? I thought that was our logo.
The new Virginia Tech tagline, Invent the Future, evolved from extensive research by a firm that specializes in higher-education marketing. The tagline was selected for its appropriateness to Virginia Tech's brand and is expected to last for many years.
Will the HokieBird or any other symbols be affected? What about the official (circular) university seal?
Aside from Virginia Tech Magazine, where will I see this brand campaign?
Where can I buy apparel or other merchandise with the new university logo and tagline?
Virginia Tech already gets a ton of applications. Why should it seek more?
Is the entire university involved in the branding campaign?
How will the branding affect my college?
Are other universities conducting branding campaigns?
Envisioning a future for all Hokies
The university's brand is dependent upon all members of the university community who act as ambassadors in carrying the brand message forward. Hokies everywhere have a strong loyalty to the university and the countless interactions among students, faculty, staff, and alumni shape the reputation and brand of Virginia Tech. Reputation- and brand-building are particularly important with prospective students, their families, and other key influencers.
If you're still not convinced of the importance of a strong university brand, think about this: In 1990, U.S. News & World Report's first "Best Colleges" survey ranked Princeton University's M.B.A. program among the best in the country. The only problem? Princeton doesn't have an M.B.A. program. Which just goes to show that in some cases, it is all about the brand.
All the major elements of the campaign, including those directed at prospective students, can be seen at www.vt.edu/future.