The Power of a Brand



The good news:

The University of San Francisco delivers an education unlike any other. The combination of our world-class faculty, Jesuit values, and the unique spirit and resources of San Francisco are only available at USF. In addition, our students, faculty and university are receiving awards, grants, and high ratings from higher education experts as never before.

The challenges:

  • Not enough people know about USF or this good news.

  • Prospective students and supporters are experiencing communications overload from regional and national competitors who present an ever-growing array of academic programs and methods of delivery.

  • We already send out thousands of communications—from news releases to direct mail appeals to e-communications to program open houses. “More of the same” will not cut through the communications clutter.

    The mandate:
    “Communicate USF’s distinctiveness among colleges and universities.” This is one of just seven strategic priorities set by our president and Board of Trustees. They have determined that reaching our strategically important audiences is crucial to ful lling our mission in the future. 


    To respond to this mandate, we employ the proven strategy known as “branding.” We begin by naming our “distinctives”—those aspects of our students’ experience that set us apart from our competitors. In branding language, these are our di erentiators. We will talk in depth about these in Section C (p9). Together they constitute a unique, favorable “position” relative to our competitors, a position we hope to instill in the minds of our target audiences.

    Effective branding, then, is a sustained, university-wide strategy, using consistent messaging and visuals to elevate USF out of the higher education communications clutter and build the university’s reputation among audiences important to our future.


    Starting with a “Positioning Statement,” this guide explains how we can all work together to carry out this strategy. The guide covers both messaging guidelines and visual guidelines.

    To help the university make best use of the guide and access our creative resources, the O ce of Marketing Communications (OMC) was established in 2011. All academic and administrative units are served by one of OMC’s client managers who serve as partners in developing and implementing e ective marketing communication plans.