You may have noticed a new Millikin logo on many of the university's recent publications. The familiar sketching of Shilling Towers, used since 1994, is replaced by the Millikin seal. The words “Millikin University” are in a sleek, modern typeface. It’s all part of a new visual package for the university, but it goes much deeper than that. It relates to the brand.
Just like a soft drink or a car company, Millikin is a brand. People make decisions based upon their impressions of and experiences with a brand each time they are “loyal” to a favorite coffee or sports team. For Millikin, the collective perceptions of prospective students, alumni, trustees, community members and employees define the Millikin brand. In other words, if Millikin was a person, the brand would be the unique attributes, values and personality characteristics that set it apart from every other person in the room.
Why does a university
need to “define its brand”?
Life is noisy and complicated. It can be very difficult to make the right choice in the cluttered field of marketing and advertising surrounding you 24/7. Searching for a college forces students to rely on their brand experiences to inform their choices.
We know that not every student is a “Millikin student.” Defining our brand is how we help students determine if the Millikin fit is the right fit for their college experience. Defining what MU is and what it is not is absolutely necessary for this process.
How did Millikin define its brand?
Working with Jump Company, a national brand-development agency cofounded by Jon Tiede ’92, we engaged in a three-year effort involving focus groups of Millikin constituents in every category and a thorough analysis of the results. In the end, it was affirming to see that the results confirmed the gut feelings we’d had all along.
So what is Millikin’s brand?
There are a couple of ways to define it. To use one word, it’s THRIVE.
Thriving is what Millikin students typically do, both during and after their Millikin experience. It’s a result of Millikin’s approach to offer aspiring students of all majors the chance to build their confidence through a unique concept we call “performance learning.” Time and time again, students are given the chance to actually gain practical, hands-on experience in their fields of study that goes beyond simulation and embraces reality – such as letting business students successfully manage a $100,000 university investment fund (they are beating the current rate of return, by the way).
Performance learning is a concept that takes Millikin’s mission and its 1901 origin – to be a place where the theoretical and practical exist side by side – one step further. Because practice is not enough to be prepared for today’s work world, we’ve raised the bar to performance level. Specifically, it’s a promise to our students to “ignite a life of meaning and success through the power of preparation by performance.”
This is a promise that our students have lived every day for generations, and now we have the tools to help future students better understand it.
by Sarah Shupenus