First Phase of Branding Project Complete; Higher Education Specialty Firm Hired

St. Thomas has completed the first phase of a project to develop a comprehensive brand strategy for the university and has retained a higher education specialty firm to work on the next phase.

Mindpower is an Atlanta-based brand strategy and branding execution agency specializing in higher education, healthcare and professional services, and will work with St. Thomas on brand strategy development, creative concepts, visuals and a rollout plan.

Minneapolis agency Barrie D’Rozario DiLorenzo handled the branding project’s initial phase over the last three months, conducting research, interviews and focus groups with more than 350 faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees. BD’D recently has been engaged in a branding initiative by the University of Minnesota, a top competitor to St. Thomas in student recruitment. St. Thomas consequently retained Mindpower to continue the branding project here.

“I want to thank BD’D for its work on the first phase,” said Kimberly Motes, St. Thomas senior vice president of institutional advancement, who is leading the branding initiative. “The information gathered and findings will guide the next phase of creative branding with Mindpower, which has two decades of experience in working with universities around the country. The St. Thomas branding working group had recommended two firms to President Julie Sullivan because both were very strong and experienced. We now have the opportunity to engage both firms and bring their particular strengths to this effort.”

Founded in 1994, Mindpower has been involved in branding projects with more than 150 universities, including Harvey Mudd, Michigan Tech, Missouri, Mount Holyoke, Saint Joseph’s, Tulane and the University of Maine system. Mindpower recently won a CASE Excellence Award for its comprehensive branding work with Mount Holyoke.

“St. Thomas is operating from a position of strength in terms of local reputation, alumni engagement, strong academics and forward-looking leadership,” said Lisa Jordan, managing partner at Mindpower. “Without a centralized brand-building effort, it is challenging to ensure the institution is telling its story in a powerful, unified way. Mindpower is well-versed in helping an institution strategically implement a comprehensive brand platform across a university campus.”

Representatives from Mindpower will be on campus April 14-16 to engage in this next phase of work with the St. Thomas community. Mindpower’s work over the next several months will include:

  • Brand strategy development: build a brand concept, including messaging platform and visual approach
  • Brand guidelines: brand strategy documentation, messaging and visual guidelines
  • Rollout planning and brand management: development of a comprehensive rollout plan for internal and external audiences.

The branding project falls within the parameters of “Enhanced Visibility and Profile,” one of the eight priorities of St. Thomas’ new strategic plan. The priority calls for St. Thomas to “improve our marketing and branding strategy to bolster public recognition and visibility across all of our academic programs.”

Motes said the project will provide greater understanding of the St. Thomas brand; create an institutional brand that can house sub-brands for colleges, schools, centers, departments and programs; focus efforts to market and communicate in a cohesive and consistent manner; and execute the brand through marketing, messaging, positioning and graphics.

As updates on the branding initiative become available, they will appear in the Newsroom. Questions about the project can be directed to Motes as well as members of the Branding Working Group.