‘Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow’

University chooses branding theme to guide recruitment efforts

Kathy Buettner

Kathy Buettner

NIU is ready to clearly define its promise to current and future students as well as alumni.

After months of conversations, research and surveys of students, faculty, staff, alumni, high school guidance counselors, parents and prospective students, “Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow” was announced Wednesday as the tagline for NIU’s branding identity.

Led by Kathy Buettner, Vice President for University Relations, members of the university’s Branding and Marketing Committee now will spend the next eight to 10 months exploring how best to define that phrase with representatives of the university’s numerous stakeholders, bringing forth supporting evidence of its pledge and preparing a new university logo as well as aggressive communications and marketing programs to spread the branding initiative.

President John Peters, who launched the branding effort along with the August 2009 organization of the Division of University Relations, is excited by the new course.

“Over 2,000 people who care deeply about NIU have provided us with their opinions about what it is that differentiates NIU from other colleges and universities,” Peters said.

“Every group we surveyed preferred the phrase ‘Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow’ to describe their NIU experience. And, as you can imagine, it means different things to different people,” Peters added. “The goal is to provide our current and future students and alums with a common language they can use to describe their diverse NIU experiences that shape their lives.”

The brand reflects NIU’s culture and values, the president said, and it offers a promise to all who engage with the institution.

Meanwhile, it also communicates a unique identity from other schools in the marketplace – something that has become a crucial need for all of higher education.

Competition for Students: logos of other colleges and universities“Students in the Chicago area and northern Illinois are recruited heavily by all types of higher education institutions. High school juniors and seniors searching for their personal college experience don’t have to look far before they are bombarded with options,” Peters said.

“Twenty-six of the best community colleges and in the United States are scattered throughout northern Illinois. A dozen private and independent colleges are tucked into suburban communities and the Chicago Loop. Quality state universities in Chicago and Champaign-Urbana and Big 10 powerhouses in neighboring states are within a short drive.”

Peters expects the committee members will find ample proof of the “Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow” message that so appropriately represents NIU.

“Our students receive a terrific education from caring faculty who prepare them to be lifelong learners while they are here. And when they graduate, they join the 225,000 alums who have gone before and who are integral to the fabric of the northern Illinois region,” he said.

“Think about what this university has meant over the years to the people of northern Illinois and Chicago. Quite simply, we are the university for northern Illinois – and our students and alums are living proof of the impact NIU has had, and will have, on the future of our region.”

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