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When the University of North Georgia was born — from a consolidation of two completely different institutions — it could have looked like a mishmash: a hodgepodge of academic offerings, different types of students (from military cadets to doctoral students), and five campuses positioned across northeast Georgia.

Charged with creating a singular brand for this new institution, UNG partnered with Zehno to find the nexus between a selective university with Senior Military College status and a state college focused on giving more people access to quality education.

UNG’s new brand looks past all differences to pinpoint the common denominator: leadership. “Lead where it counts” depicts UNG students thriving in many facets of leadership — on campus, in their careers, in their communities, in their families.

University of North Georgia


  • Build a unified institutional identity for a new, multifaceted institution.
  • Develop key messages that differentiate UNG among competitors.
  • Embrace the role of a regional institution — even one that is surprisingly global.


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etting UNG’s brand out in the marketplace — and helping people understand the school’s strengths — drove up enrollment on every campus. Enrollments increased by 34% since the consolidation was announced.

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Setting an example

By emphasizing the whole university — instead of its parts — UNG serves as an example for other schools undergoing consolidation and attempting to unify institutions with different missions, demographics and cultures.

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The new brand elevates all five campuses while highlighting UNG’s most well-known programs, including the Corps of Cadets.

University of North Georgia
University of North Georgia
University of North Georgia

Uniting a multi-campus institution

When UNG was formed, everything was new: new name, new logo, new breadth of programs, new culture, new campus policies. Even a new mascot!

But UNG started with the right raw materials. It was uniquely designated as a state leadership institution. And as one of only six senior military colleges in the nation, it has produced a long line of generals and leaders in business and government.

Because its campuses — Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee — span from one of America’s richest counties to the edge of Appalachia, UNG needed to speak to all audiences individually while representing the university as a whole. And because each campus offers different programs ranging from dual credit in high school to doctoral programs, it was essential to showcase how people could get the degree they wanted and progress to the next level — all within UNG.

The new brand honors the strengths and culture of each campus. It also balances the prominence of small but high-profile programs with the greater university. For example, UNG’s prestigious Corps of Cadets is, after all, in the same category as The Citadel.

Building the brand on inherent strengths

Leadership rose to the top as a brand theme. But UNG’s challenge was to broaden its appeal beyond Type A personalities who might go on to lead a big corporation or a state legislature. UNG also needed to appeal to people who would blossom as leaders in their hometowns, churches, offices and families.

“Lead where it counts” features flagship stories that prove how UNG turns personal potential into success and successful people into leaders.

For example, UNG grad Rachel Glazer won a Nachshon Fellowship to study in Jerusalem, where she was challenged to step up as an educator and leader. When she returned to campus, she was appointed as a UNG Diplomat for Diversity, initiating for some students first-time conversations about racism, women’s empowerment and gender equality. Now as a community engagement associate for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, she combines her social justice and philanthropic work to improve communities.

And there’s Cadet Dwight Bennett, who rose in the ranks from Company First Sergeant to Company Commander at UNG. After learning Arabic in UNG’s intensive Summer Language Institute, he won a Project Global Officer grant to study in Morocco and attended International Cadet Week in Latvia.

Using graphics to illustrate pathways

The new brand conveys UNG’s multi-campus university as a seamless experience that delivers a broad range of majors and options for continuing your education, regardless of where you begin.

“Lead where it counts” uses graphic devices that tell stories through literal maps or markings like pinpoints. In the viewbook, a world map plots where students and recent grads lead all over the world — from a cadet completing U.S. Army Ranger School at the top of his class to a Fulbright Award winner studying in Bulgaria.

What Zehno did

  • Brand audit and strategic recommendations.
  • Brand platform.
  • Brand vision.
  • Flagship content including profiles and photo shoot.
  • University viewbook.
  • Cadet viewbook.
University of North Georgia

Tips for your team

  1. Test your brand attributes with your stakeholders.Kate Maine, chief of staff at UNG, shares the behind-the-scenes work her communications team did to build consensus. Read it here.
  2. Focus on the common thread to give your brand relevance and longevity — even if you add another campus or change programs drastically.
  3. Spotlight student and faculty whose stories bring your key messages to life.

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