Ohio University launched its Forever Ohio rebranding effort, but Robin Oliver, vice president for University Communications and Marketing, knows it’s much more than a rebrand.
“This is intended to be a university-wide articulation of our brand,” Oliver said. “When you say we're going to rebrand, that usually means that we're going to reset our values…I think this is really who Ohio University always has been, and what Ohio University always will be. It is not intended to just be a campaign. This is intended to be bigger than that, and to really inform the way that we're talking externally about our brand.”
The university-wide brand articulation is all-encompassing as to what OU stands for.
Forever Ohio means that OU has been here for a long time and will continue to exist for a long time, Oliver said. The community of students drives OU and it is always looking forward.
OU doesn’t only offer a degree, Oliver said. The university offers the college experience that makes students who they are. Oliver feels the experiences will teach students everything they need to know – from how to learn, lead and forge a fulfilling career path to how to make an impact on people and communities.
Oliver and the brand articulation team created a PowerPoint to further showcase the Forever Ohio message.
“Welcome to Athens, Ohio,” Oliver said, reading from the PowerPoint. “No one simply passes through here and it's not a quick step along the road. In fact, it's not even a single place. We are generations bound together by the Ohio experience and when you become a part of Ohio University, Ohio University becomes a part of you. Forever.
“Yes, there's green, there's white and a backdrop of red bricks with the soundtrack of the Marching 110 in the distance. But just when you think Ohio was modeled after an oil painting titled ‘Classic American University,’ you meet a 36-year-old mother of three earning her degree at our campus in Lancaster. Or you discover that Ohio was leading online learning before it became popular…and long before it became necessary.
“We've been here since 1804. By staying true to yesterday's ideals and taking action for the good of tomorrow by addressing our students’ needs yet always placing the experience above all. Forever adaptable. Forever focused. Forever innovative. Forever community. Forever forward. Forever Ohio.”
For Oliver, Forever Ohio means that the university experience will stay with students forever. She knows that the area, the people they meet and the connections that they form can stick with a person for their entire life.
“You don’t come to Ohio University just to get a degree; you’re coming here to have an experience that is going to last,” Oliver said.
The brand articulation has been years in the making. Oliver joined OU in 2019, but the brand project was already in the works. The marketing team brought in a consulting firm to look at the university’s perception from current and prospective students. According to the team’s market research, there was a gap between what current students know about the university and what prospective students think.
“We recognized that there was a gap between reality and perception and this project is really about trying to bring those two things together,” Oliver said. “It’s also really about bringing together a lot of disparate voices across the university.”
The marketing team hired a firm called Truth and Consequences and they met with students, faculty senate representatives and multicultural center representatives.
The firm worked to spell out what it means that OU is a blend of a big university with many resources and a supportive, tight-knit community. The firm’s brand positioning statement is that OU delivers the nation’s highest return on experience, Oliver said, from incomparable relationships to heavy drive and innovation in career fields.
“You're going to remember your time here,” Oliver said. “It’s going to impact the way you think, the way you act [and] who you become in the end. It all happens in this tight-knit supportive community.”
The brand articulation included a commercial, signage and banners across campus, a wall mural and new social media banners. In addition, a 60-second television spot debuted in November and became the brand’s kickoff.
“We really wanted to tell this story internally because we depend on you all, as our brand ambassadors, to help us tell that story,” Oliver said. “We wanted to give you all the tools to do that.”
Brad Walker, a senior studying journalism and Jacob Krupp, a senior studying finance and marketing, were in the commercial together. Walker and Krupp are roommates and in the commercial, Krupp is spray painting Walker’s hair in a Lindley Hall bathroom.
“It was pretty sweet, to be honest,” Walker said. “Obviously I love this place; that’s why I’m a tour guide and I have nothing but good things to say about OU. It was so cool knowing that I was one of the first people to be a part of the new philosophy of the university.”
Krupp is involved in Delta Tau Delta fraternity, is the vice president of Bobcathon and was a tour guide at the time of filming.
“(The) video was great,” Krupp said in a message. “It showed how people come to [OU] and fall in love with the loyalty…and how great it is to be a part of the loving alumni.”
Not only are students loving the new university-wide brand articulation, but OU faculty and staff are on board as well.
“Representing this institution to the public is a dream job for me,” Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said. “The campaign really speaks to me as an alumna. That is how I feel, and I know there are other alum on the team who feel the same way.”