DePaul University Enrollment Management and Marketing > Signature Initiatives > Brand Marketing

DePaul Brand: Defining the University’s Promise

What do you think of when someone says “DePaul University”? How do you describe it? What images do you associate with DePaul?

The answers to these questions involve the university’s brand—the combination of images, identities, values, attributes and experiences that come to mind among critical audiences when they think of DePaul. The brand is the promise DePaul makes about the experiences people will have with the university.

One of the hallmarks of DePaul’s enrollment strategy is its inextricable connection with the university’s brand strategy. By understanding the brand and regularly leveraging it throughout the enrollment process, DePaul has seen steady enrollment growth to maintain its position as the largest Catholic university in the country.

While branding is highly valued in most commercial industries, it is a relatively nascent concept in higher education. Many universities have found, however, that their brands are important ingredients in enrollment success and strategic planning. Brands that are consistent with a university’s mission, strategic priorities and preferred position resonate stronger in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

Defining a university brand is a complex challenge. A university’s brand is largely a result of the experience people have with it. Therefore, institutions do not “brand” or “re-brand” themselves; rather, they create a set of experiences and support them with strategic messages that build and reinforce the university brand over time.

Through extensive research and the use of brand marketing expertise, DePaul has been able to define its brand. For the university’s primary audiences, DePaul is the university that prepares graduates to work, succeed and contribute in the global community. Its foundation of respected academics and real-world knowledge, balanced with the urban and multicultural experiences of Chicago and an awareness of social responsibility, make DePaul unique. This brand promise is regularly reviewed to ensure its relevance.

Defining the brand is one thing—but managing it is another. To ensure that its many constituents understand DePaul’s unique advantages, DePaul manages the university’s brand by consistently using the same brand language and graphic identity.

While DePaul’s brand research and strategies are the private and confidential property of the university, you can contact Verna Donovan if you have questions.

Milestones

  • 2003: Work to originally define the DePaul brand begins and results in the creation of consistent brand architecture, brand messaging and logos, which was then implemented university-wide.
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  • 2007: "Become" campaign launches. Centered on elevating DePaul’s academic reputation, the Become campaign included university-wide as well as college-specific executions, across multiple media vehicles, including television, print, radio, outdoor/transit and web. In 2010-11, the last year that the campaign ran, the campaign’s ads generated more than 215 million impressions in the Chicago area and reached 94.1 percent of Chicago adults age 25 to 49 approximately 61 times. This exposure generated 238,510 unique pageviews to the Become campaign landing pages.
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  • 2010: A comprehensive refresh of the university’s brand begins. The effort includes a series of qualitative interviews and focus groups with key audiences (i.e., prospective students and parents, alumni, employers, prospective donors and community members) followed by a comprehensive quantitative survey designed to understand the factors that influence the reputation of a university, and the brand characteristics most closely associated with DePaul and its comparator schools. A cross-divisional group then analyzed the results of this research and agreed to a refinement of the brand articulation.
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  • 2011: Launch of a new university-wide advertising campaign—the “Greater Perspective” campaign—to build and reinforce DePaul’s 2010 refined brand promise.

DePaul's Brand Language

The words and phrases used by DePaul to describe the promise to people about the experiences they will have with this institution is brand language. This language is most often used in marketing materials, such as the university’s core web content and prospective student materials.


While certain elements of the DePaul brand are emphasized depending on the specific audience, the core of the university’s brand promise is about preparing graduates to work, succeed and contribute to the global community. The four core attributes of that brand identity are respected academics, real-world knowledge, social responsibility and multicultural experiences.

  • Respected academics: having programs that are recognized for excellence; faculty who are experts in their fields; and having graduates who are hired by top employers and accepted into top graduate programs.
  • Real-world knowledge: having faculty who bring real-world experience into the classroom with a focus on teaching and a curriculum that is reflective of current trends.
  • Social responsibility: encouraging social responsibility by providing an educational experience that encourages service in line with DePaul’s mission as a Catholic university.
  • Multicultural experiences: infusing global issues into the curriculum; encouraging a diverse student body that reflects Chicago’s diverse population; and providing an education balanced between academics and developing social maturity in an open-minded atmosphere.

DePaul's Graphic Identity

The DePaul University graphic identity is a complex set of logos, signatures, graphics and text elements, the most prominent of which is the official logo. Each component of the DePaul identity works together with all others to ensure a consistent look and feel in our communications materials.

 

The development of DePaul’s graphic identity has been informed by DePaul’s brand and the management of this graphic identity promotes and protects the brand. While the majority of the university’s marketing and promotional activities are coordinated by the Division of Enrollment Management and Marketing, guidelines are available to all within the university to ensure the consistent and correct use of our identity.

 

For more information about DePaul’s graphic identity, visit the DePaul Brand Resources site. ​