Our primary objective is to enhance our position among institutions of higher learning. It is essential, therefore, that we thoroughly understand our current brand image, our market position, our true identity and our value propositions. Defining and reinforcing all of these elements – but especially our true identity and our distinctive claims – is fundamental to our success. Your knowledge of our core strategies and your dedication to maintaining our marketing efforts through the Texas Tech brand and positioning platform will ensure a consistent message, image and experience for all our audiences.
We recently completed an extensive review and analysis of the Texas Tech identity and brand image among key audiences. In this process, we examined the gaps between our audiences' perceptions and our true identity and value propositions. The findings revealed a number of recurrent, overriding themes regarding Texas Tech's brand image today:
The Texas Tech University System and its two sister institutions – the university and the health sciences center – must compete with other institutions for donor and alumni loyalty and largesse, political support, talented college-bound high school seniors, ambitious graduate students and faculty with substantial research and teaching portfolios. To succeed, the institution must advance a brand claim that is genuine and provable.
The Texas Tech brand should be aspirational but realistic and attainable. Its claims should distinguish the institution from its peers and competitors and speak to a wide range of constituents. Finally, it must be in harmony with Texas Tech's mission and strategic direction.
Our research has led to the conclusion that the optimal position for Texas Tech corresponds directly to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Closing the Gaps by 2015 plan. Specifically, the optimal position conveys access to a comprehensive education that emphasizes centers of teaching and research excellence that focus on the complex problems facing the future of Texas, the nation and the world. The essence of this position is captured in the following platform for the system:
The Texas Tech University System attacks the challenges of the new Texas and the Southwest by improving access to quality education and health care, by facilitating student and professional success, by acquiring resources for its component institutions and by providing innovative solutions to national and global questions that arise in its setting.
For the university and the health sciences center, this platform manifests itself in two slightly different ways based on those institutions' specific objectives and audiences.
Texas Tech University is dedicated to shaping the future of our students by providing them a comprehensive, quality education that prepares them to enter careers in a timely fashion. The university, in an environment of openness and friendliness, develops leaders who can articulate appropriate solutions to challenges and advance the well-being of the people of Texas and the global community. Texas Tech University achieves this through research and creative activity and by preparing students to turn theory into practice. Students, staff and faculty provide dedicated service through programs that draw upon a vast array of intellectual resources and world-class expertise.
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center provides creative solutions to the health care challenges of today and tomorrow. It educates a diverse group of health care professionals for successful careers; it investigates and treats complex health issues, especially those affecting historically underserved populations; and it advances knowledge through research and other innovations that touch the health of people in Texas and beyond.
These statements carry weighty implications for institutional programs and budgets. They also have a direct impact on Texas Tech's efforts to communicate with constituents.
In the writing guidelines sections for each institution, you'll find detailed, key messages drawn from the positioning statements that should be conveyed to both internal and external audiences.
In creating guidelines for both writing and design, we've also extracted fundamental concepts and relevant brand attributes from our positioning statements and research into the Texas Tech personality traits. These concepts and attributes have guided the development of our new academic identity system. They will act as essential touchstones and filters for directing and evaluating future marketing and communication efforts.
Aligning our marketing strategies, objectives and tactics with our positioning and key concepts will take the arbitrariness out of decisions and ensure that we're "on brand" across all experiences with Texas Tech.
In light of the statewide higher education plan Closing the Gaps by 2015 and our subsequent research, we see an opportunity to position Texas Tech within a distinctive niche. We see rich opportunities to express our commitments to student participation, our histories of student success, and our achievements and promise in important research. Communicating this unique combination of strengths and benefits is essential for a strong Texas Tech brand.
This opportunity allows us to move beyond our historical identification with athletics alone. Now, the university and health sciences center are prepared to stake a claim of academic quality that responds to the needs of the state, nation and world. A positioning statement that reinforces this claim will establish Texas Tech as an institution of higher learning accomplished in its own right. It will extend the institution's impact beyond its traditional frontiers to attract the support, attention and admiration Texas Tech deserves.
Establishing a strategic position is essential for defining, managing and advancing our position in the competitive academic marketplace. Think for a moment about Volvo. The automobile company differentiates itself from its competitors by its singular commitment to safety. In a similarly focused and concise manner, Texas Tech should reinforce a singular position in the minds of our target audiences.
In light of the statewide Closing the Gaps by 2015 plan and our research, we see an opportunity to claim the position of "PREPAREDNESS." This single word represents the essence of our character and commitment in a number of ways.
Texas Tech is prepared to meet the needs of many people in many ways.
Texas Tech answers the call of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's plan Closing the Gaps by 2015. This plan aims to close educational gaps within Texas, as well as between Texas and other states, with attention to student participation, student success, excellence and research.
Texas Tech has what it takes to get things done with a vast array of intellectual resources, world-class expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and outstanding accessibility.
Texas Tech administrators, alumni, students and faculty are practical and proactive in their strong work ethic and ambition; it develops skilled and responsive leaders; and the Texas Tech culture puts theory into practice.
Students at Texas Tech prepare for life with unparalleled access to a full range of undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities. These include the Honors College, interdisciplinary opportunities, undergraduate research, distance learning and transitions to study at the Law School or at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Research at Texas Tech addresses regional issues with national and global impact.
The Texas Tech brand and positioning platform identifies the key concepts, messages and identity attributes that support our unique "Preparedness" position and provides a common foundation for all branding activities. It supplies marketing and creative guidance, inspiration, messaging and energy for all communication and experiences. It establishes approved criteria for objective review and offers long-term reference for brand management over time.
You should reinforce the concept of "Preparedness" in all of your marketing and communication plans and programs. And you should support that position with your choices in concept, message and imagery. Consistency and frequency are important. As with any other investment, an ongoing commitment to making substantial and frequent installments builds equity in the minds of our target audiences.
The unique combination of strengths and benefits that support our position of "Preparedness" can be consolidated into a group of key concepts that – along with our character and personality attributes – provide a constant reminder of what defines and differentiates the Texas Tech brand experience. Bringing these essential concepts to life is at the heart of the Texas Tech brand experience. It is the key to making that experience visible in the marketplace.
Our newly unified academic identity system is a highly visible symbol of Texas Tech's commitment to academic excellence. As such, it represents a core component of our strategy to appropriately align our academic image with best practices found in the vast majority of colleges and universities across the nation. But our Academic Signature is only a symbol. It must have meaning assigned to it over time through tangible evidence of that commitment. Every action, image and word should be gauged against this primary objective, for without it, our claims will ring hollow.
We're committed to improving access to quality education and health care and to facilitating student and professional success wherever we are. We provide a full range of academic opportunities, vast intellectual resources and facilities to respond to the challenges of the new Texas and Southwest. We provide the resources and innovative solutions to help both individuals and the institution realize their full potential.
Texas Tech has developed a culture based on nurturance and growth. Our positioning platform has established us as the answer to issues of student access, academic and professional preparation, degree completion and career success. That highly supportive attitude is pervasive and extends to experiences found both on and off campus. Our sense of service extends well beyond the classroom into communities that are enthusiastic participants in facilitating personal growth and providing a rewarding university life.
Bringing visibility to the richness and diversity of the Texas Tech experience is of paramount importance. Sense of place addresses not only what is here, but also what happens here. Prospective students, their parents and other key influencers have little to no idea of what we have to offer. Providing greater visibility to our campuses and all dimensions of our rich academic and social life is a critical first step toward establishing a clearer and more complete image of our system and sister universities.
And for those who have yet to gaze in wonder and awe at the towering expanse of an approaching West Texas thunderstorm or our majestic sunsets, there is something essential to share here as well. The endless skies are an important part of that unique experience. They are a constant reminder to us all of endless possibilities.
From our beloved Double T, to the Masked Rider and the Goin' Band from Raiderland, to "Guns Up," to the peal of our Victory Bells ringing out across campus, Texas Tech takes great pride in the rich traditions that generations of Red Raiders have shared and cherished. Whether it's the Carol of Lights, or wrapping Will Rogers, each of these traditions is as unique to Texas Tech as the warmth, friendliness and passion of our university community.
These spirit traditions provide vivid illustrations of the Red Raider experience. They set us apart. They reinforce the tremendous sense of belonging that comes with being a part of the Texas Tech family. And as such, they should be used whenever we want to create an emotional connection to our brand. Make the most of these connections, keeping in mind their relevance to your specific subject and communication objectives.
For those of us within the Texas Tech family, reciting all of the things that are special about our institutions and about our experiences comes easily. Indeed, there is a lot to talk about. And yet, we often find that individuals outside the family know very little about us or have significant misperceptions. Visitors to our campus are continually surprised at what they discover. Many have remarked that Texas Tech is one of the best-kept secrets around. We agree.
But in an increasingly competitive academic environment, we can't afford to keep this secret to ourselves. The need to define and differentiate Texas Tech has become even more critical as colleges and universities around the state and nation vie for the favor of prospective students and their parents, school counselors, prospective faculty and administrators, legislators, grantors and business professionals. We're competing not only for name recognition but, more importantly, for what that name represents. We need to answer the questions:
Presenting a compelling message, a rewarding experience and a consistently recognizable face is essential to establishing and advancing the Texas Tech image and reputation – our brand – in the region, state and nation. We must be committed to investing in a relationship with our stakeholders that consistently builds familiarity and confidence.
From a marketing and communication perspective, it is vitally important that we clearly position ourselves in the minds of our audiences so that our unique claims are evident and supported. Our brand exists solely in the minds of our audiences. The image and understanding they have is the culmination of all their experiences with Texas Tech, whether as prospective students and faculty, sports fans, legislators, academic colleagues or business professionals. The following model provides an illustration of some of the various contact points that define and direct our brand identity and position.
It's helpful to think of our brand image or identity in human terms. How do we appear and how do we behave? What has defined our character? What core values can we always be counted on to represent? What are our personality traits?
Much like the consumer brand Volvo, whose mission is to provide safety for families, Texas Tech can be considered a "caregiver"* brand. Just like a good parent, physician, teacher or member of the clergy, we share a goal of helping others and protecting them from harm. We're nurturing and supportive, reliable and unquestionably committed. Thinking of Texas Tech as the caregiver persona can provide a simple reminder of our primary value proposition.
Texas Tech's identity is deeply rooted in the independent character and caregiver culture of the people of West Texas, where the vast expanse of the South Plains has demanded not only rugged determination and self-reliance but also a vital connection to a supportive community. It's a land where the limitless sky and horizon both humble and inspire. It is a place where commitment to nurturance and growth seems just as endless.
These experiences have shaped the Texas Tech identity. They are essential components of the key concepts and attributes that form our brand and positioning platform. Our constituents have come to depend on these highly prized characteristics. Along with the key concepts supporting our "Preparedness" position, these characteristics provide the basis for our point of differentiation and value proposition.
*Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, "The Hero and the Outlaw" (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 209-226.
Just as any individual is defined by behavior over time, so too we have established expectations for behaviors and qualities. The qualities associated with Texas Tech should be evident in every piece of communication and every experience that stakeholders have with the institutions and their components.
Anyone who comes to our campuses and communities is struck with the open and friendly character of the people he or she encounters. Students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community enthusiastically welcome and embrace new members of our ever-growing family.
We're nurturing. We both challenge and guide, serving as a valued counselor, teacher and friend to all.
We share our expertise and experiences, empowering others with both the theory and the practical skills to succeed, regardless of the endeavor.
We're focused on outcomes – having positive impacts in our community and in the world. Our sphere of influence is limited only by our imaginations.
We're exceptionally diligent and committed to the task at hand.
We're committed to an intellectually rich environment, where creativity, innovation and intellectual freedom flourish.
We're able to act effectively and imaginatively, regardless of the challenges.
We can be counted on to respond, no matter what the need, and to always be worthy of confidence and trust.
For all audiences, the Texas Tech brand stands for access to a quality education in a nurturing and challenging environment that fosters student and professional success.
In the simplest of terms, this is what audiences can be assured of receiving as a result of their relationships with Texas Tech. It's a promise that we must hold in the highest regard. We must ensure that it is delivered consistently with every encounter and reinforced in all our marketing and communication activities. We're all caregivers, and your stewardship of our brand is essential to advancing the shared interests of the Texas Tech family.
Our tagline – From here, it's possible – quickly communicates to all audiences that the tradition of fostering student and professional success at Texas Tech creates a culture where anything is possible. From here, it's possible to pursue over 150 different degree programs or to pursue a medical, law or a performing arts career. From here it's possible to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, to become an astronaut, a singer with the Metropolitan Opera or to discover cures for life-threatening diseases. From here it's possible for a first-generation college student to realize potential and discover passion. From here is anywhere that Texas Tech has a presence in the region, state, nation and world. It's not just what is here, it's what happens here that we need to keep uppermost in our minds and share with the rest of the world.