Differentiating Messaging Concepts

The University of San Francisco has identifed four differentiating messaging concepts that set it apart from competitors and developed specifc language to describe each. These messages allow us to speak with one voice when communicating with internal and external audiences, ensuring that the USF brand is consistently, clearly, and compellingly conveyed.

The descriptions here are intentionally brief and general. The message names, especially The San Francisco Advantage, should be used uniformly wherever possible. However messages describing experiences and achievements that illustrate the concepts will vary widely according to the particular academic and administrative unit as well as the target audience. 

Differentiating Concept 1: 

The San Francisco Advantage

“University of San Francisco students, faculty, and alumni are integral participants in the entrepreneurial, innovative city of San Francisco and are engaged in everything from technology to nonprofits.” 

USF’s San Francisco Bay Area location has proven to be the university’s strongest selling point across all audiences. Location should be framed around the city as an extension of campus, i.e. how a USF education reaches beyond the classroom to include internship, service learning, and other experiential learning and professional opportunities available in the city and region.

In addition, the San Francisco Advantage message ties into our mission: Getting an education at USF, in the city of San Francisco, uniquely prepares students to “change the world.” Because of the nature of the city—and because of USF’s special relationship with the city—our students gain the skills, values, and perspectives to work for positive change in a complex, diverse, and interconnected world. The same inclusive, progressive spirit that has long de ned San Francisco is also a de ning trait of USF. Living and learning in San Francisco means the real world isn’t “out there” somewhere—it’s right at our feet. 

Differentiating Concept 2:

Engaged Learning 

“A USF education is intensely personal and intellectually demanding, emphasizing disciplined thinking and fostering transformative experiences.” 

USF teaches students not just what to think but how to think. USF’s academic quality is defined by:
• accessible faculty to whom students feel accountable
• broad academic choices
• intellectually demanding academic and service learning experiences.
• small class sizes
• student research opportunities
• breadth of programming offered including USF’s broad, interdisciplinary core curriculum and experiential learning opportunities that reach into the city, the region, and the world

USF should also be identified as a private and accessible university, clearly distinguishing it from every other institution of higher education in the city of San Francisco. Private should be defined in a way that underscores the inclusive, diverse nature of our community as well as the academic benefits of small classes and greater student-faculty engagement. 

Differentiating Concept 3:

Equipped to Lead and Succeed

“USF students graduate as broadly educated women and men with the professional skills needed to do well throughout their lifetimes.” 

USF graduates are ready for everything. USF ensures that students graduate with market-ready competencies that allow them to thrive in their chosen career path. The undergraduate liberal arts core curriculum builds skills in critical analysis and communication that are always in demand and prepares graduates should they change jobs, or even whole careers during their lifetime.

Our students are prepared to be successful, effective leaders who are inspired to do their part to change the world.

This culture of success and leadership is at the heart of the USF enterprise. The university’s momentum is accelerating with innovative programs, new facilities, and a rising national profile. 

Differentiating Concept 4:

Passion for Justice

“The University of San Francisco community ignites students’ passion for social justice and the pursuit of the common good.” 

USF’s commitment to social justice is informed by our 155-year-old Jesuit, Catholic mission. This message should emphasize that we are a community united around a deeply rooted mission to advance justice and we offer more experiences that heighten students’ awareness of social inequalities.

At USF, students are educated to be responsible global citizens in an increasingly interdependent world. USF applies scholarship to justice issues—thought with action—which in turn enhances academic quality. In the context of our tagline, messaging on this attribute should strengthen the internalized meaning of “here” as mind and heart, cultivated at USF in each student committed to social justice and the pursuit of the common good.