Changing Tomorrow Today

Changing Tomorrow Today

UT is becoming more brand conscious. A statewide marketing effort keyed to the “fUTure” includes billboards, a new television commercial, and print advertising. The branding effort was launched September 19 at a six-way simulcast for UT employees. More than 3,600 attended at locations in Knoxville, Memphis, Martin, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Tullahoma. The marketing effort is an important element of the university’s largest fundraising campaign in history, now in its first phase.

The heart of the brand image is nothing new. It’s the UT icon, designed in 1986 by UT graphic artist Ted Williams (Knoxville ’55). The icon represents a melding of the university and the state of Tennessee. The new multiyear marketing strategy unifies all parts of the statewide university in giving more prominence to the mark and using it to gain broader recognition and stronger appeal.

Representatives of all the UT campuses and institutes participated in planning for the branding, and each campus and institute is developing its own plans to use the identity. Though the plan will create a consistent identity across the system, each campus will maintain some individuality. This reflects what President John Petersen calls the “distinct but linked” relationship of the various units of the UT system. He says each campus and institute has its niche, but being part of the UT system gives each more clout and recognition. The branding program doesn’t impact the athletic programs or established colors on each campus.

The university has traditionally had a strong brand identity through its athletics teams. The new marketing plan capitalizes on the popular UT orange to draw attention to the statewide university as a rising star in higher education that is central to the future of the state of Tennessee.

Creating awareness and strengthening identity generates interest and support from all the people the university serves, Petersen says: “Higher education is a competitive industry. We compete for students, faculty, and staff and maintain widespread support from our stakeholders–alumni and donors, the General Assembly, and the residents of Tennessee. Creating, promoting, and reinforcing a compelling identity is critical to our competitive advantage and ensures that we influence what people think when they hear or see our name.”

A complete description of the branding campaign is available on the Web at

Why a Brand Identity?

  • To define and communicate a clear, compelling identity in an increasingly competitive environment
  • To create an effective brand that makes a positive first impression, that is easily remembered, and that builds on current positive perceptions
  • To increase support from the state of Tennessee, donors, and foundations
  • To enhance recognition and credibility with the constituencies we serve in Tennessee, around the nation and world
  • To establish a clear link from UT to Tennessee’s promising future