Nobel Prize-winning research. Top students at the university. Diverse collaborations. LSU College of Science has all the goods to be a heavy-hitter in the scientific community.
So then why did the audiences most important to the college’s future not know how strong it is? The college needed to invite more people into the fold — more scientists, non-scientist donors and state residents — to help spread the word, voice their own ideas and influence future research.
LSU’s new “Your question next” creative concept invites its diverse audiences — inside and outside the sciences — to put their best ideas forward. Using intriguing questions as an entry into storytelling, communications cut straight to the questions LSU scientists and its audiences are asking.
- Build the College of Science’s reputation across the state and the nation as the front-runner for the university.
- Unify siloed academic departments under a collegewide umbrella for the brand internally and externally.
- Invite a wide array of audiences into the college community — from distinguished academic peers to donors and state residents.
Created a distinct visual identity that elevates the College of Science across the national scientific community and within the LSU university brand.
Developed a new brand platform that unites the College of Science and serves as a message playbook with peer academics, faculty, Louisiana residents, prospective donors and undergraduate students.
Clarified brand positioning to attract more best-fit students, faculty, staff, industry partners and donors, and distinguish LSU from its audiences’ other choices.
Showcasing the college’s strengths
LSU College of Science needed a sub-brand that highlighted the best of the college’s culture: creative collaborations across campus and around the world, diverse perspectives that yield world-class research breakthroughs and accessible science for all — from other scientists to ordinary taxpayers.
“Your question next” unites these three strengths. It also brings out the visionary aspect of sciences, showcases the questioning mindset that drives science and pinpoints the sparks of curiosity that move knowledge forward.
Questions are tailored to each audience to invite them in. For local residents, questions target a broader impact. For peer scientists, questions narrow in on a super-specific aspect about the research. For example:
- Local residents: How can we save Louisiana’s coastlines — and economy? What causes asthma besides genetics? Why aren’t Mardi Gras beads biodegradable? How can we stop the diabetes epidemic?
- Peer scientists: What’s the extent of bird hybridization in the Amazon rainforest? Why did the fringefin lanternshark disappear from the Gulf of Mexico? Can understanding green-blooded lizards offer clues to treating malaria? How do specialized microbes protect coral from extreme temperatures?
Research teams and lead scientists are photographed like portraits you might see in Wired or Fast Company. They’re heroic, confident and imbued with a silver tone that conveys strength. Photographs depict researchers in their actual settings — in messy labs and in the field. (Marianna Massey, photographer)
Stories showcase diverse research teams — projects led by female scientists and other underrepresented minorities, pairing student researchers with faculty experts and collaborations with scientists and science enthusiasts across the globe.
Arming brand ambassadors
How do you bring more national partners to the table? Build your brand internally first.
As part of its brand launch plan, the College of Science created a college ambassador guide to build its internal brand culture and inspire people to talk about the college.
The guide unifies five departments and a museum that represent nearly 2,000 students and 200+ faculty, and serves as an internal guidebook for faculty, staff, alumni and donors in their communications about the college. Using key stats and stories that back up the college’s brand platform messages, the guide equips people to have more meaningful conversations about the college.
The guide was distributed at brand launch events to faculty, college leaders and donors, generating excitement and buy-in for “Your question next.” And more than 600 people attended the student block party which featured everything from a question submission booth to “Your question next” t-shirt giveaways.
What Zehno did
- Brand audit and brand strategy.
- Brand platform.
- Brand vision.
- Flagship content including profiles and photo shoot.
- Communications plan consulting.
- College ambassador guide.
- College brochure.
- Annual report redesign.
Tips for your team
- Build your internal brand culture by including a brand resources web page and storytelling workshops for faculty, staff and students in your brand launch plan.
- Use wide-angle environmental photography to turn abstract research topics into intriguing work, making the research feel larger than life.
- Use a distinctive hook — like LSU’s questions — as an entry into your storytelling. Don’t be afraid to repeat the approach over and over to get your point across.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
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