Why Brand Matters

A strong brand is an essential element for building awareness and understanding about an organization. It helps an organization break through the clutter of competing messages. It is about what an organization says it does, how it does it, and how well it delivers. A well-defined and effectively communicated brand is increasingly important for Humboldt State as we seek to bolster student recruitment, research support, charitable giving, and more.

Building the strength of the HSU brand, and communicating about the brand, is a shared responsibility across campus. Repetition and reinforcement is essential. The goal is alignment of what HSU is, how we are portrayed in communications, and how our most important audiences perceive us.

Definitions of Brand

The concept of “brand” has many definitions, all of which seek to explain the same general concept. Some consider it the core promise that an organization makes to its audiences, or the perception of an organization among its key audiences. Others think of brand as the personality or core essence of an organization. Another definition of brand is the DNA or fingerprint of an organization – the “real” organization beneath the evolving programs, offerings, marketing, and infrastructure. Yet another view is that a brand represents the way in which an organization is a hero for its audiences. Importantly, many consider a brand to be jointly created by an organization and its audience. The story that the audience tells about an organization matters.

Brands reflect the mission, vision, and strategic priorities of an organization. They are both descriptive (about the current reality of an organization) and aspirational (about the organization’s vision for its future).

HSU's Brand Evolution

Humboldt State’s brand has evolved over time. It has been created in the imaginations and shared experiences of our community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and supporters. It has been shaped by the stories we tell one another, and it represents what the University has been, as well as what it hopes to become.

This website provides an expanded guideline about HSU’s brand and how it can be expressed in communications and marketing. It builds on long-standing key messages for student recruitment; the University’s mission, vision, and values; and existing graphic standards. Key brand messages have been tested and verified in recent years by outside consultants, who also provided recommendations for more clearly articulating the brand for campus use. The Strategic Planning process, undertaken by the campus community in 2014-15, helped to further sharpen the brand messages and tone.

Brand = The big idea, promise, or heart of an organization.

Branding = Utilizing communications and marketing to reinforce the brand essence to important audiences.